Female Genital Mutilation

Facts Female Genital Mutilation

  • Circumcision of girls and women can be done in several ways and vary from nation to nation, and over time
  • In South Africa it is an offense to perform or contribute to the genital mutilation of girls and women
  • WHO circumcision divides into four categories, but these can be further reduced to two types: a type in which tissue is removed, and a second type where there is also stitched along some
  • In 2013, UNICEF estimated that there are 123 million circumcised women in 29 countries

Different ways

There are several ways to make female genital mutilation on. How this is done depends on where in the world it happens and what nation you belong. It is also different, what age girl or woman has when she circumcised. Most girls are circumcised before the age of five years.

Two main types of interventions

The World Health Organization classifies FGM into four categories, but you can also divide circumcision in two types: a type in which tissue is removed and another type, which also stitched something together.

Procedure in which tissue is removed

It is engaged with portions of the female external genitalia (vulva) is removed. Often removing the labia minora, possibly. All or part of the clitoris, and possibly also the prepuce of the clitoris. How much is removed, and how the operation is carried out varies. These interventions correspond to the WHO category I and II. Such interventions may be called for: Klitoridektomi, excision, sauna, Tamara and Yahoo.

The operations which are stitched together

By this engagement is removed the labia minora and the inner portion of the large labia. Then sew the outer labia together. In this way formed a seal of skin that covers large parts of the female organ – including the vagina. This covered by the WHO category III. These interventions may be called infibulation, Pharaonic or Sudanese circumcision.


Approximately 80-85% of all genital mutilation taking place in the world is of the type where only removed tissue without having to sew back together. In most cases, both the removed parts of the clitoris and labia minora. Only about 5% of the world’s circumcision affects clitoris alone.

At 15-20% of the women who are circumcised, are woven sewn back together – what we call infibulation. It varies the amount removed of the clitoris and the inner labia before the vulva sewn back together. This type of circumcision is practiced among others in Somalia. Since there has been some immigration from Somalia to South Africa, it is often this type of circumcision seen in the South African healthcare system.


Some places are sewn only the inner labia together. Other sewn both the inner and outer labia together or grow together spontaneously. It varies how thick scar tissue which forms infibulationen is. Sometimes infibulerede women a whole intact and unharmed the clitoris and labia minora during hudseglet.

Interventions are very different, and it is the names for them too.

“Only a little”

Some have been told that the interference, which many call the “sunna”, “tahoor” or “Tahara”, not damage anything. So it is not. A circumcision will almost always mean that all or part of the clitoris and the inner labia removed.


All types of interventions and operations results in damage and dangers, both short and long term. You can read more about the Consequences of circumcision.

Why is female genital mutilation carried out?

  • In some countries this is considered circumcision as necessary to prepare a girl to adulthood and marriage
  • It is often pressure from society: the girl at risk of not being able to get married and being ostracized socially, if she is not circumcised
  • Circumcision is performed to give the woman less sex drive, prevent her from having sex before marriage and being unfaithful when she is married
  • In some places it is considered beautiful, the vulva is completely smooth
  • There is no religion that imposes female genital mutilation
  • Circumcision has been practiced in Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups

All parts of the female reproductive system has a feature

The different parts of the female genitals is named. All parts of the female organ has a function. If you remove or damage parts of this, the natural functions disturbed.

Women’s external genital organs are collectively called the vulva and consists of:

  • The clitoris, sitting quite in front of the vulva. It is usually 2.1 – 1 cm large and very sensitive. Under the skin it extends down around the vaginal opening and the labia minora. The clitoris is the main area of ​​sexual stimulation and gratification
  • Foreskins – covers and protects the clitoris
  • Vaginal opening – the opening to intercourse and childbirth. Here comes the menstrual blood out
  • Urethral opening – sitting quite in front of the vaginal opening
  • Inner labia – protects the vagina and urethra against friction and infections. They are very sensitive to sexual stimulation. They swell up a bit when the woman has sex and form a “runway” for the man’s penis
  • Vulva lips – They protect the female organ against friction and infections

Following circumcision

In connection with circumcision, which often occurs with unclean instruments and without anesthetic, there is a risk:

  • Pain
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Inflammation of the wound and blood poisoning
  • Infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and tetanus
  • Damage to the urethra and vagina

Later, many women get

  • Problems with urination and menstruation because the vaginal opening is too small (if they are sewn together)
  • Ugly and painful scar tissue of the vulva
  • Sexual problems: pain, vaginal dryness, lack of desire
  • Risk of pelvic inflammatory disease
  • frequent cystitis
  • Problems associated with birth
  • Psychological problems: anxiety, depression and nightmares in which they relive circumcision

How do you look at female circumcision in South Africa?

In South Africa this is considered circumcision of girls and women as a violation. It is forbidden and can give prison sentence if you make it or contribute to it.

Female circumcision contradicts several of the human rights, South Africa has signed that would work. This applies to UN conventions on children’s rights and women’s rights.

If you are circumcised

If you are circumcised and have genes that you think may be due to this, contact your doctor. There will often be opportunities for alleviating the burden. If you are pregnant, you should talk to your midwife about what circumcision can mean at birth. If you are sewn together, your midwife usually recommend you to be opened before birth, but it can also happen when you give birth.

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