Female genital mutilation (FGM) can have a devastating impact on the lives of women and girls who have undergone the procedure. FGM can cause physical and psychological harm, as well as social and economic consequences.
The World Health Organization classifies FGM into 4 major types. Type 1 is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and/or the prepuce. Type 2 is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora, with or without removal of the labia majora. Type 3, also known as infibulation, is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce and glans. Type 4 includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for nonmedical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, and cauterizing the genital area.
In terms of physical harm, FGM can cause chronic pain, infection, and even death. It can also result in complications during childbirth, such as obstructed labor, which can lead to maternal and fetal mortality. In some cases, women may require further surgeries or medical treatment to address the complications caused by FGM.
Psychologically, FGM can have a lasting impact on women and girls. It can cause anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and can also affect their sexual and reproductive health. Women may experience difficulties with sexual intercourse, and may also face stigma and discrimination due to their FGM status.
In addition to physical and psychological harm, FGM can also have social and economic consequences. Women who have undergone FGM may be at greater risk of poverty, as they may face restrictions on their education and employment opportunities. FGM can also perpetuate gender inequality and reinforce harmful patriarchal norms that restrict women’s autonomy and decision-making power.
It is important to work towards ending FGM and supporting women and girls who have undergone the procedure, to ensure that they can lead healthy, fulfilling lives free from harm and discrimination.