What is FGC?

Female genital cutting (FGC) is a harmful practice in which part, or all, of a girl’s external genitals are forcibly removed.  Girls are generally aged between 5 and 8 when it happens.

Most girls are cut without anaesthetic using a rusty knife or blade. There are different forms of female genital cutting – it can involve excision of the clitoris and either the inner or outer labia. 

In its most extreme form, the entire external genitals are cut away. The wound left will be sewn up with thorns or string.  A tiny hole is left for menstrual blood and urine.  A girl is often left  with her legs tied together for weeks,  so that the wound heals and scar tissue (often keloid) is formed, which means that the entire area is “sealed”. Around the time of her wedding, she will be  cut open, just enough for penetrative sex. She is also further cut to give birth. Each time she gives birth, she is re-sewn

There are  no health benefits to FGC.  The cut itself can cause severe bleeding and death. There are ongoing problems urinating, difficult periods, and painful sex.

Pregnancy may bring added problems, and childbirth complications and newborn deaths are common. The psychological and social impacts are wide-ranging, long-lasting and serious.

FGC has existed for over 2,000 years and pre-dates organised religion.

FGC happens because it is a social convention. It is considered a necessary part of raising a girl properly, a way to prepare her for adulthood and ensure a good marriage. A cut girl will marry, an uncut girl will not.

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  1. Pingback: The Last Cut « Africa's Heartbeat

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