Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation, frequently called by its initialism (FGM), is defined as the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Female genital mutilation violates the same human rights as does male genital mutilation (MGM).
In 1997, the World Health Organization classified female genital mutilation into four different types. Since then, experience with using this classification revealed the need to subdivide these categories, to capture the varieties of FGM in more detail. Severity (which here corresponds to the amount of tissue damaged) and health risk are closely related to the type of FGM performed as well as the amount of tissue that is cut.
- Partial or total removal of the clitoral glans (the external and visible part of the clitoris, which is a sensitive part of the female genitals, with the function of providing sexual pleasure to the woman), and/or the prepuce/clitoral hood (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoral glans). When it is important to distinguish between the major variations of Type I FGM, the following subdivisions are used:
- Partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without removal of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva). When it is important to distinguish between the major variations of Type II FGM, the following subdivisions are used:
- (Often referred to as infibulation). Narrowing of the vaginal opening with the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora. The covering of the vaginal opening is done with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce/clitoral hood and glans (Type I FGM). When it is important to distinguish between variations of Type III FGM, the following subdivisions are used:
- All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.
Deinfibulation refers to the practice of cutting open the sealed vaginal opening of a woman who has been infibulated (Type III). This is often done to allow sexual intercourse or to facilitate childbirth, and is often necessary for improving the woman’s health and well-being.
Note: To date (September 2023), the World Health Organization has not yet cataloged male genital mutilation (MGM), although there is also a corresponding range of types. This is why the WHO is repeatedly accused of being blind in one eye when it comes to the issue of genital mutilation.