About FGM

About FGM

What is FGM?
Over 130 million women and girls worldwide are victims of FGM and over 2 million girls undergo the ritual annually. In Tanzania, it is estimated that over 15 million women are victims. One of the strongest held traditions, FGM has very serious and irreversible physical and psychological effects on young girls and women. Here is everything you need to know about FGM.

What is FGM?
Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves a number of procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

What do the procedures entail?
There are four major types of FGM as identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO). These are:
  • Type 1 – clitoridectomy – removing part or all of the clitoris.
  • Type 2 – excision – removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (larger outer lips).
  • Type 3 – infibulation – narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia.
  • Other harmful procedures to the female genitals, which include pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping and burning the area.
Who is at risk?
FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, although adult women are also affected. The practice is mainly found in Africa and the Middle East, where more than 125 million women are thought to be currently living with the consequences of FGM. In Africa alone, more than three million girls are estimated to be at risk of being cut each year.

Who carries out the procedure?
The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. However, according to the WHO, more than 18% of all FGM is performed by health care providers, and the trend towards medicalization is increasing.
FGM is usually conducted using makeshift unsterilized tools like broken glass; tin-lids; razor blades; knives; scissors or any other sharp object, without anaesthesia.

What are the health risks?
There are no health benefits to FGM and the procedures involved can cause a number of serious health issues for girls and women. Aside from the extreme pain experienced because anaesthetics and pain killers are not commonly use, women and girls also face these risks:
Immediate complications can include death; severe shock; extensive bleeding; bacterial infections; urine retention; HIV transmission; open sores and trauma to the genital region and surrounding tissue.
Long-term complications can include reoccurring urinary infections; cysts; menstrual disorders; infertility; childbirth complications; and psychological trauma and mental health problems.

Why is FGM practised?
There are a number of cultural, religious, and social beliefs within these grass-root communities that contribute to why FGM still takes place today.
FGM is often motivated by traditional beliefs that the procedure is beneficial for girls and will properly prepare them for adulthood and marriage. For example, many communities believe the procedure will reduce a young woman’s libido, therefore discouraging sexual activity and ensuring pre-marital virginity and marital fidelity.
Despite FGM being illegal in many countries, the long-standing prevalence of this cultural tradition often means there are social pressures to conform. Many believe if their daughters don’t have the operation to find a husband, they will be shunned by their community.

Where does the law stand in Tanzania?

FGM has been prohibited by law in Tanzania since 1998 and is considered a gross violation of the human rights of girls and women. Any person who commits the offence of cruelty to children could be imprisoned for up to 15 years and fined $150 (300,000 TZ Shillings). However, the government struggles to enforce this law and FGM still continues among grass-root communities.

What can be done?
If you know someone who is at risk of having FGM, please help us by getting in touch with us to stop FGM

Contact us

NAFGEM Tanzania is located in Shanty Town - Moshi City

  • dummy (+255 ) 272 755 652

  • dummy info@nafgemtanzania.org

 

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