Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Don’t cut your daughter’s body!

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Don’t cut your daughter’s body!

All women and girls have the right to control what
 happens to their bodies and the right to say no to FGM.

What is FGM?
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genital organs are deliberately cut or injured, but where there is no medical reason for this to be done. The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women and can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths. It's also known as "female circumcision" or "cutting", and by other terms such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others.
FGM is performed on women and girls at different ages, depending on the community or ethnic group that carries it out, though it is mostly carried out on girls between the ages for 5 and 8 years old. FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. It is illegal in the UK and is child abuse.
It is very painful and dangerous and can seriously harm women and girls’ health. Some girls die from blood loss or infection as a direct result of the procedure.

Many clients who experience FGM may have associated problems with health, including mental health problems (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder), difficulties in giving birth, problems with or painful menstruation, repeated infections, difficult and painful intercourse, inability to conceive, problems during pregnancy and in a surprising number of cases, infant mortality.

An estimated 10% of victims die from short-term effects and 25% from recurrent problems.  There are different types of FGM and all of them are extremely harmful with many short and long term health implications including:

Short term health consequences of the practice can include infections, severe pain, emotional and psychological shock.

Longer term consequences for women can be severe and wide ranging, including, chronic infections, renal impairment, complications during pregnancy and childbirth, psychological issues, including depression and post stress-traumatic stress disorder, increased risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Types of FGM:
There are four main types of FGM:
  • Type 1: (clitoridectomy) – removing part or the entire 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, including pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping or burning the area.
Health risks of female genital mutilation (FGM)
1.    Severe and constant pain: Cutting the nerve ends and sensitive genital tissue causes extreme pain. Proper anaesthesia is rarely used and, when used, is not always effective. The healing period is also painful.
2.    Death: can be caused by infections including tetanus and haemorrhage including.  Death of mother and child during childbirth
3.    Excessive bleeding: (haemorrhage) can result if the clitoral artery or other blood vessel is cut during the procedure.
4.    Shock: can be caused by pain, infection and/or haemorrhage.
5.    Problems during labour and childbirth, which can be life-threatening for mother and baby
6.    Child birth complications: severe difficulties during pregnancy and increased risk of child’s poor health or death and high risk of infertility.
7.    Genital and urination problems: genital swelling, urinary retention and urinary tract infection, pain in passing urine.
8.    Psychological and psychosexual consequences: caused by the pain, shock and the use of physical force by those performing the procedure. Other effects include  mental health and psychosexual problems such as low libido, depression, anxiety and sexual dysfunction; flashbacks during pregnancy and childbirth;
9.    Menstrual problems: painful and irregular periods caused by the obstruction of the vaginal opening..
10. Trauma:  causes severe long term emotional and mental health issues.
11. Wound infections risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections caused by the use of unsterilized instrument such as razor blades, broken glass, knifes and scissors.
12. Injury to adjacent organs:  as a result of the forced use during the cutting process
13. Pain during sexual intercourse, reduction in pleasurable sexual sensation; reduced desire and arousal; reduced frequency of orgasm or anorgasmia, decreased lubrication and poorer sexual satisfaction, increased sexual phobia.
14. Female Genital Mutilation Can Be Treated: There are procedures which can, to some extent, repair or reverse the physical damage caused by FGM.

FGM is illegal

      FGM is a criminal offence. It is an unacceptable practice for which there is no justification. It is child abuse and a form of violence against women and girls.
      FGM is illegal in the UK and it is illegal to prepare, send or take a child to another country.
      Child abuse: violation of the rights of young girls and linked to other harmful practise e.g. domestic abuse and forced marriage.

Help and support

If you have any concerns that you have been affected by FGM then please speak to a trusted health professionals such as your GP for advice and treatment. Talk to your GP or another healthcare professional if you have sexual problems that you feel may be due to FGM, as they can refer you to a special therapist who can help.

If you are worried that this may happen to you or someone you know, you can speak in confidence to a teacher, doctor, school nurse, social worker, police officer or any health, educational or social care professional. They will be able to help, support, protect you and keep confidential your problems and FGM status.

If you are worried that a child or young person may be at risk of FGM, you can contact us confidentially on the contact details below.

Please feel free to contact us for confidential advice, guidance and information about  FGM:

Diversity Living Services, 57 The Market Square, Edmonton Green, London, N9 0TZ. Tel: 02088036161; email: eradicatefgm@gmail.com

Charity No: 1098916; Company No: 4459816
Diversity Living Services is accredited to UN in Special Consultative Status with Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

References: NSCCP, NHS and WHO.


A  WHO report states, “For many girls genital mutilation is a major experience of fear, submission, inhibition, and suppression of feelings and thinking. This experience becomes a vivid landmark in their mental development, the memory of which persists throughout life….for some, nothing they have subsequently gone through, including pain and stress in pregnancy….has come close to the painful experience of genital mutilation…their tension and tears reflect the magnitude of emotional pain they silently endure at all times…the resulting loss of confidence and trust in family and friends can affect the child/parent relationship and has implications for future intimate relationships between the adult and their own children.”



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Mental health problems are extremely common across society, with one in four of us experiencing them in any year. Despite being so common, people from all communities will still experience discriminatory attitudes and behaviours that can prevent people from speaking out, seeking support and playing full and active roles in our communities. The impact of mental health stigma and discrimination will vary between communities as mental health has a cultural context that affects the way communities talk about the subject and engage with people who have mental health problems. In some cultures depression, for example, doesn't exist and in others an experience of a mental health problem can be attached to a sense of shame.

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