Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other mistreatment of other organs for non-medical reasons.
Because of the harm done to the body, FGM is illegal and deemed as a gender-based crime and child abuse. FGM is forced upon women, leaving them with physical and mental problems, along with a depletion of self-esteem.
It can be seen as tradition in some communities as a vital condition in arranged marriages and a normal expectation.
A myth that coincides with FGM is that it makes a woman more fertile, which is false. A woman is more susceptible to disease and complications during childbirth. Sexually sensitive skin is removed, causing intercourse to be painful, unsafe, and often impossible without re-opening the vagina.
The World Health Organization identifies four stages of FGM. The most practiced is Type 1, with the removal of the clitoris. Type 3, called infibulation, consists of the removal of the labia minora and labia majora, and the stitching up of the vagina, leaving the necessary passage for urine and menstruation.
FGM is a global issue, with almost three million girls affected by it each year.
In Somalia, 98 percent of women ages 15-49 are victims of FGM, and in Gambia, 56 percent of girls under the age of 14 are victimized. In Africa, many states have decreed FGM as dehumanizing and a criminal offense.
However, it has not stopped FGM from still being prevalent in their society, seeing that over 29 African countries are affected by FGM.
Many organizations, such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and Daughters of Eve are still fighting for an end to female genital mutilation through educating people on its harmful effects.