FGM is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the range of procedures which involve ‘the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reason’
There are four main ‘types’ of FGM depending on the type of procedure that is made.
Type 1 – The clitoris or the clitoral hood is removed
Type 2 – The clitoris and inner lips are removed
Type 3 – The clitoris, inner lips and outer lips are removed and the skin is sewn to leave only a small opening (infibulation)
Type 4 – All other harmful procedures (pricking, piercing, burning, scraping etc)
“This issue is something that I have neither heard of or had training around. I feel uncomfortable that I do not know enough about this to help protect the children I teach”.Teacher
FGM can be performed on babies and toddlers, but it most often happens when girls are between the ages of 4-10, most commonly before they enter puberty. The World Health Organisation estimates that around 100-140 million women alive today have undergone FGM.
Why is Female Genital Mutilation practised?
The origins of FGM are complex and justified by deeply ingrained beliefs by the cultural groups who practice it. Parents submitting their daughters to FGM are aware that an uncircumcised woman may stand very little chance of marriage and may not be accepted by her community.
FGM as an education issue
FGM can have a significant impact on a girl’s education due to absenteeism, poor concentration, low academic performance and loss of interest. The loss of social opportunities also plays a huge part.
More information can be found here .
HM Government (2011) Female genital mutilation: multi-agency statutory guidance (PDF). London: The Stationery Office.