Female genital mutilation, also referred to as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is the practice of partially or wholly removing the external female genitalia or otherwise injuring the female genital organs for non-medical or non-health reasons. The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. Increasingly, however, female genital mutilation is being performed by healthcare providers.
Female genital mutilation is a harmful practice that constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. Female genital mutilation is performed in every region of the world and, within some cultures, is a requirement for marriage and believed to be an effective method to control women’s and girls’ sexuality. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
(1) CEDAW Committee (2014). Joint General Recommendation/General Comment No 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and No 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on harmful practices. Available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CEDAW/Pages/Recommendations.aspx; (2) World Health Organization – WHO (2016). Female Genital Mutilation Factsheet: Media Centre. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/