What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation (sometimes called female genital cutting) is a traditional cultural practice involving the cutting or removal of the external genitals. It has existed for more than 2,000 years, and is performed on girls of only a few days old, up to just before marriage. It is traditionally practised by non-medically trained women, often in unsterile conditions and without anaesthetic.

FGM is classified into four main types:

  1. clitoridectomy – clitoris or clitoral hood is cut off
  2. excision or intermediate – clitoris and inner lips are removed
  3. infibulation – clitoris, inner and outer lips are removed. The remaining skin is stitched or sealed leaving a small opening
  4. other harmful procedures include piercing, pricking, stretching, scraping, burning, cutting and introducing corrosives/herbs.

There are no health benefits to FGM and it causes much harm. Some of the health problems caused include:

  • severe loss of blood, pain or shock
  • difficulties in urinating or menstruating
  • increased risk of bladder infection and HIV
  • mental health problems
  • issues with sexuality and pain during sex
  • complications, and sometimes death,in pregnancy and childbirth
  • incontinence due to tears in bladder or rectum.

Further information on FGM can be found at:

World Health Organisation - Female Genital Mutilation factsheets and reports

NHS - Female Genital Mutilation overview and advice on FGM in the UK



The Ashworth Group