Female genital mutilation
|Definition||"Partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons" (WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA, 1997).|
|Areas||Africa, Asia, Middle East and within communities from these areas elsewhere|
|Numbers||Over 200 million women and girls in 27 African countries, Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen, as of 2016|
|Age||Days after birth to puberty|
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common. UNICEF estimated in 2016 that 200 million women in 30 countries—27 African countries, Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen—had undergone the procedures.
Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, FGM is conducted from days after birth to puberty and beyond. In half the countries for which national figures are available, most girls are cut before the age of five. Procedures differ according to the country or ethnic group. They include removal of the clitoral hood and clitoral glans; removal of the inner labia; and removal of the inner and outer labia and closure of the vulva. In this last procedure (known as infibulation), a small hole is left for the passage of urine and menstrual fluid; the vagina is opened for intercourse and opened further for childbirth.
The practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women's sexuality, and ideas about purity, modesty and beauty. It is usually initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honour, and who fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters cut will expose the girls to social exclusion.[a] The health effects depend on the procedure; they can include recurrent infections, difficulty urinating and passing menstrual flow, chronic pain, the development of cysts, an inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth, and fatal bleeding. There are no known health benefits.
There have been international efforts since the 1970s to persuade practitioners to abandon FGM. As a result it has been outlawed or restricted in most of the countries in which it occurs, although the laws are poorly enforced. The opposition to the practice is not without its critics, particularly among anthropologists, who have raised difficult questions about cultural relativism and the universality of human rights.
- 1 Terminology
- 2 Methods
- 3 Classification
- 4 Complications
- 5 Distribution
- 6 Reasons
- 7 History
- 8 Opposition
- 9 Criticism of opposition
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
Until the 1980s FGM was widely known as female circumcision, implying an equivalence in severity with male circumcision. From 1929 the Kenya Missionary Council referred to it as the sexual mutilation of women, following the lead of Marion Scott Stevenson, a Church of Scotland missionary. References to the practice as mutilation increased throughout the 1970s. In 1975 Rose Oldfield Hayes, an American anthropologist, used the term female genital mutilation in the title of a paper, and four years later Fran Hosken, an Austrian-American feminist writer, called it mutilation in her influential The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females.
The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children and the World Health Organization (WHO) began referring to it as female genital mutilation in 1990 and 1991 respectively. Other terms used include female genital cutting (FGC) and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), preferred by those who work with practitioners.
The many variants of FGM are reflected in dozens of terms in countries where it is common. These often refer to purification. In the Bambara language, spoken mostly in Mali, FGM is known as bolokoli ("washing your hands") and in the Igbo language in eastern Nigeria as isa aru or iwu aru ("having your bath").[b] A common Arabic term for purification has the root t-h-r, used for male and female circumcision (tahur and tahara). It is also known in Arabic as khafḍ or khifaḍ.
Communities may refer to only two forms of FGM: "pharaonic" for infibulation and sunna circumcision for everything else. Sunna means "path or way" in Arabic and refers to the tradition of Muhammad, although none of the procedures are required within Islam. The term infibulation derives from fibula, Latin for clasp; the Ancient Romans reportedly fastened clasps through the foreskins or labia of slaves to prevent sexual intercourse. The surgical infibulation of women came to be known as pharaonic circumcision in Sudan, but as Sudanese circumcision in Egypt. In Somalia it is known simply as qodob ("to sew up").
The procedures are generally performed by a traditional circumciser (cutter or exciseuse) in the girls' homes, with or without anaesthesia. The cutter is usually an older woman, but in communities where the male barber has assumed the role of health worker he will perform FGM too.[c]
When traditional cutters are involved, non-sterile devices are likely to be used, including knives, razors, scissors, glass, sharpened rocks and fingernails.:491 According to a nurse in Uganda, quoted in 2007 in The Lancet, a cutter would use one knife on up to 30 girls at a time.
Health professionals are often involved in Egypt, Kenya, Indonesia and Sudan. In Egypt 77 percent of FGM procedures, and in Indonesia over 50 percent, were performed by medical professionals as of 2008 and 2016. Women in Egypt reported in 1995 that a local anaesthetic had been used on their daughters in 60 percent of cases, a general anaesthetic in 13 percent and neither in 25 percent (two percent were missing/don't know).
Surveys, UN typology
The WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA issued a joint statement in 1997 defining FGM as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons." The procedures vary considerably according to ethnicity and individual practitioners. During a 1998 survey in Niger, women responded with over 50 different terms when asked what was done to them. Translation problems are compounded by the women's confusion over which type of FGM they experienced, or even whether they experienced it. Several studies have suggested that survey responses are unreliable.[d]
Standard questionnaires from United Nations bodies ask women whether they or their daughters have undergone the following: (1) cut, no flesh removed (pricking or symbolic circumcision); (2) cut, some flesh removed; (3) sewn closed; or (4) type not determined/unsure/doesn't know.[e] The most common procedures fall within the "cut, some flesh removed" category and involve complete or partial removal of the clitoral glans.
WHO Types I–II
The World Health Organization created a more detailed typology. Types I–III vary in how much tissue is removed (Type III is the UNICEF category "sewn closed"). Type IV describes miscellaneous procedures, including symbolic circumcision.
Type Ia (circumcision) involves removal of the clitoral hood only and is rarely performed alone.[f] The more common procedure is Type Ib (clitoridectomy), the complete or partial removal of the clitoral glans (the visible tip of the clitoris) and clitoral hood. The circumciser pulls the clitoral glans with her thumb and index finger and cuts it off.[g]
Type II (excision) is the complete or partial removal of the inner labia, with or without removal of the clitoral glans and outer labia. Type IIa is removal of the inner labia; IIb, removal of the clitoral glans and inner labia; and IIc, removal of the clitoral glans, inner and outer labia. Excision in French can refer to any form of FGM.
Type III (infibulation or pharaonic circumcision), the "sewn closed" category, involves the removal of the external genitalia and fusion of the wound. The inner and/or outer labia are cut away, with or without removal of the clitoral glans. Type IIIa is the removal and closure of the inner labia and IIIb the outer labia.[h] The practice is found largely in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan (though not South Sudan) in northeast Africa. Estimates of numbers vary: according to one in 2008, over eight million women in Africa have experienced it.[i] According to UNFPA in 2010, 20 percent of women with FGM have been infibulated.
Comfort Momoh, a specialist midwife, describes Type III: "[E]lderly women, relatives and friends secure the girl in the lithotomy position. A deep incision is made rapidly on either side from the root of the clitoris to the fourchette, and a single cut of the razor excises the clitoris and both the labia majora and labia minora." Girls "may be pinned down so firmly that bones may fracture". In Somalia the clitoral glans is removed and shown to the senior female relatives, who decide whether enough has been amputated. After this the labia are removed. The amputated parts might be placed in a pouch for the girl to wear.
A single hole of 2–3 mm is left for the passage of urine and menstrual fluid by inserting something, such as a twig, into the wound.[j] The vulva is then closed with surgical thread, agave or acacia thorns, or covered with a poultice such as raw egg, herbs and sugar.:491 To help the tissue bond, the girl's legs are tied together, often from hip to ankle; the bindings are usually loosened after a week and removed after two to six weeks.:491 The result is a "drum of skin extending across the [vaginal] orifice except for a small hole," Momoh writes.
If the remaining hole is too large in the view of the girl's family, the procedure is repeated. The vagina is opened for sexual intercourse, for the first time either by a midwife with a knife or by the woman's husband with his penis. In some areas, including Somaliland, female relatives of the bride and groom might watch the opening of the vagina to check that the girl is a virgin. Psychologist Hanny Lightfoot-Klein interviewed hundreds of women and men in Sudan in the 1980s about sexual intercourse with Type III:
The penetration of the bride's infibulation takes anywhere from 3 or 4 days to several months. Some men are unable to penetrate their wives at all (in my study over 15%), and the task is often accomplished by a midwife under conditions of great secrecy, since this reflects negatively on the man's potency. Some who are unable to penetrate their wives manage to get them pregnant in spite of the infibulation, and the woman's vaginal passage is then cut open to allow birth to take place. ... Those men who do manage to penetrate their wives do so often, or perhaps always, with the help of the "little knife." This creates a tear which they gradually rip more and more until the opening is sufficient to admit the penis.
The woman is opened further for childbirth and closed afterwards, a process known as defibulation (or deinfibulation) and reinfibulation. Reinfibulation can involve cutting the vagina again to restore the pinhole size of the first infibulation. This might be performed before marriage, and after childbirth, divorce and widowhood.[k]
The WHO defines Type IV as "[a]ll other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes", including pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. It includes nicking of the clitoris (symbolic circumcision), burning or scarring the genitals, and introducing substances into the vagina to tighten it. Labia stretching is also categorized as Type IV. Common in southern and eastern Africa, the practice is supposed to enhance sexual pleasure for the man and add to the sense of a woman as a closed space. From the age of eight, girls are encouraged to stretch their inner labia using sticks and massage. Girls in Uganda are told they may have difficulty giving birth without stretched labia.[l]
A definition of FGM from the WHO in 1995 included gishiri cutting and angurya cutting, found in Nigeria and Niger. These were removed from the WHO's 2008 definition because of insufficient information about prevalence and consequences. Angurya cutting is excision of the hymen, usually performed seven days after birth. Gishiri cutting involves cutting the vagina's front or back wall with a blade or penknife, performed in response to infertility, obstructed labour and other conditions. In a study by Nigerian physician Mairo Usman Mandara, over 30 percent of women with gishiri cuts were found to have vesicovaginal fistulae (holes that allow urine to seep into the vagina).
Short-term and late
FGM harms women's physical and emotional health throughout their lives. It has no known health benefits. The short-term and late complications depend on the type of FGM, whether the practitioner had medical training, and whether she used antibiotics and unsterilized or surgical single-use instruments. In the case of Type III, other factors include how small a hole was left for the passage of urine and menstrual blood, whether surgical thread was used instead of agave or acacia thorns, and whether the procedure was performed more than once (for example, to close an opening regarded as too wide or re-open one too small).
Common short-term complications include swelling, excessive bleeding, pain, urine retention and healing problems/wound infection. A 2015 systematic review of 56 studies that recorded immediate complications suggested that each of these occurred in more than one in ten girls and women undergoing any form of FGM, including symbolic nicking of the clitoris (Type IV), although the risks increased with Type III. The review also suggested that there was under-reporting. Other short-term complications include fatal bleeding, anaemia, urinary infection, septicaemia, tetanus, gangrene, necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease) and endometritis. It is not known how many girls and women die as a result of the practice, because complications may not be recognized or reported. The practitioners' use of shared instruments is thought to aid the transmission of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, although no epidemiological studies have shown this.
Late complications vary depending on the type of FGM. They include the formation of scars and keloids that lead to strictures and obstruction, epidermoid cysts that may become infected, and neuroma formation (growth of nerve tissue) involving nerves that supplied the clitoris.:491–492
An infibulated girl may be left with an opening as small as 2–3 mm, which can cause prolonged, drop-by-drop urination, pain while urinating, and a feeling of needing to urinate all the time. Urine may collect underneath the scar, leaving the area under the skin constantly wet, which can lead to infection and the formation of small stones. The opening is larger in women who are sexually active or have given birth by vaginal delivery, but the urethra opening may still be obstructed by scar tissue. Vesicovaginal or rectovaginal fistulae can develop (holes that allow urine or faeces to seep into the vagina). This and other damage to the urethra and bladder can lead to infections and incontinence, pain during sexual intercourse and infertility.:491–492
Painful periods are common because of the obstruction to the menstrual flow, and blood can stagnate in the vagina and uterus. Complete obstruction of the vagina can result in hematocolpos and hematometra (where the vagina and uterus fill with menstrual blood). The swelling of the abdomen that results from the collection of fluid, together with the lack of menstruation, can lead to suspicion of pregnancy. Asma El Dareer, a Sudanese physician, reported in 1979 that a girl in Sudan with this condition was killed by her family.
FGM may place women at higher risk of problems during pregnancy and childbirth, which are more common with the more extensive FGM procedures. Infibulated women may try to make childbirth easier by eating less during pregnancy to reduce the baby's size. :99 In women with vesicovaginal or rectovaginal fistulae, it is difficult to obtain clear urine samples as part of prenatal care, making the diagnosis of conditions such as pre-eclampsia harder.:491–492 Cervical evaluation during labour may be impeded and labour prolonged or obstructed. Third-degree laceration (tears), anal-sphincter damage and emergency caesarean section are more common in infibulated women.:97
Neonatal mortality is increased. The WHO estimated in 2006 that an additional 10–20 babies die per 1,000 deliveries as a result of FGM. The estimate was based on a study conducted on 28,393 women attending delivery wards at 28 obstetric centres in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. In those settings all types of FGM were found to pose an increased risk of death to the baby: 15 percent higher for Type I, 32 percent for Type II and 55 percent for Type III. The reasons for this were unclear, but may be connected to genital and urinary tract infections and the presence of scar tissue. The researchers wrote that FGM was associated with an increased risk to the mother of damage to the perineum and excessive blood loss, as well as a need to resuscitate the baby, and stillbirth, perhaps because of a long second stage of labour.
Psychological effects, sexual function
According to a 2015 systematic review there is little high-quality information available on the psychological effects of FGM. Several small studies have concluded that women with FGM suffer from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Feelings of shame and betrayal can develop when women leave the culture that practises FGM and learn that their condition is not the norm, but within the practising culture they may view their FGM with pride, because for them it signifies beauty, respect for tradition, chastity and hygiene.
Studies on sexual function have also been small. A 2013 meta-analysis of 15 studies involving 12,671 women from seven countries concluded that women with FGM were twice as likely to report no sexual desire and 52 percent more likely to report dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse). One third reported reduced sexual feelings.
The prevalence of FGM is defined as the percentage of the 15–49 age group that has exerienced it. These figures are based on nationally representative household surveys known as Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), developed by Macro International and funded mainly by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), conducted with financial and technical help from UNICEF.
These surveys have been carried out in Africa, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere roughly every five years, since 1984 and 1995 respectively. The first to ask about FGM was the 1989–1990 DHS in northern Sudan. The first publication to estimate FGM prevalence based on DHS data (in seven countries) was by Dara Carr of Macro International in 1997.
FGM is found mostly in what Gerry Mackie called an "intriguingly contiguous" zone in Africa—east to west from Somalia to Senegal, and north to south from Egypt to Tanzania. Nationally representative figures are available for 27 countries in Africa, as well as Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen. Over 200 million women and girls are thought to be living with FGM in those 30 countries.
The highest concentrations among the 15–49 age group are in Somalia (98 percent), Guinea (97 percent), Djibouti (93 percent), Egypt (91 percent) and Sierra Leone (90 percent). As of 2013, 27.2 million women had undergone FGM in Egypt, 23.8 million in Ethiopia, and 19.9 million in Nigeria. There is also a high concentration in Indonesia, where Type Ia (removal of the clitoral hood) and symbolic nicking (Type IV) are practised; the prevalence rate for the 0–11 group is 49 percent (13.4 million).:2
Smaller studies or anecdotal reports suggest that FGM is also practised in Colombia, the Congo, Malaysia, Oman, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as among the Bedouin in Israel; in Rahmah, Jordan; and among the Dawoodi Bohra in India. It is also found within immigrant communities in Australasia, Europe, North America and Scandinavia.
Prevalence figures for the 15–19 age group and younger show a downward trend.[n] For example, Burkina Faso fell from 89 percent (1980) to 58 percent (2010); Egypt from 97 percent (1985) to 70 percent (2015); and Kenya from 41 percent (1984) to 11 percent (2014).
From 2010 household surveys asked women about the FGM status of all their living daughters. The highest concentrations among girls aged 0–14 were in Gambia (56 percent), Mauritania (54 percent), Indonesia (49 percent for 0–11) and Guinea (46 percent). The figures suggest that a girl was one third less likely in 2014 to undergo FGM than she was 30 years ago. If the rate of decline continues, the number of girls cut will nevertheless rise from 3.6 million a year in 2013 to 4.1 million in 2050 because of population growth.[o]
Rural areas, wealth, education
Surveys have found FGM to be more common in rural areas, less common in most countries among girls from the wealthiest homes, and (except in Sudan and Somalia) less common in girls whose mothers had access to primary or secondary/higher education. In Somalia and Sudan the situation was reversed: in Somalia the mothers' access to secondary/higher education was accompanied by a rise in prevalence of FGM in their daughters, and in Sudan access to any education was accompanied by a rise.
FGM is not invariably a rite of passage between childhood and adulthood, but is often performed on much younger children. Girls are most commonly cut shortly after birth to age 15. In half the countries for which national figures were available in 2000–2010, most girls had been cut by age five.
Over 80 percent (of those cut) are cut before the age of five in Nigeria, Mali, Eritrea, Ghana and Mauritania. The 1997 Demographic and Health Survey in Yemen found that 76 percent of girls had been cut within two weeks of birth. The percentage is reversed in Somalia, Egypt, Chad and the Central African Republic, where over 80 percent (of those cut) are cut between five and 14. Just as the type of FGM is often linked to ethnicity, so is the mean age. In Kenya, for example, the Kisi cut around age 10 and the Kamba at 16.
A country's national prevalence often reflects a high sub-national prevalence among certain ethnicities, rather than a widespread practice. In Iraq, for example, FGM is found mostly among the Kurds in Erbil (58 percent prevalence within age group 15–49, as of 2011), Sulaymaniyah (54 percent) and Kirkuk (20 percent), giving the country a national prevalence of eight percent.
The practice is sometimes an ethnic marker, but may differ along national lines. In the northeastern regions of Ethiopia and Kenya, which share a border with Somalia, the Somali people practise FGM at around the same rate as they do in Somalia. But in Guinea all Fulani women responding to a survey in 2012 said they had experienced FGM, against 12 percent of the Fulani in Chad, while in Nigeria the Fulani are the only large ethnic group in the country not to practise it.
Type of FGM
Women are asked during surveys about the type of FGM they experienced:
- Was the genital area just nicked/cut without removing any flesh?
- Was any flesh (or something) removed from the genital area?
- Was your genital area sewn?
Most women report "cut, some flesh removed" (Types I and II). According to Mackie in 2003, Type II is more common in Egypt, while a 2011 study identified Type I as more common. In Nigeria Type I is usually found in the south and the more severe forms in the north.
Type III (infibulation) is concentrated in northeastern Africa, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan. In surveys in 2002–2006, 30 percent of cut girls in Djibouti, 38 percent in Eritrea, and 63 percent in Somalia had experienced Type III. There is also a high prevalence of infibulation among girls in Niger and Senegal, and in 2013 it was estimated that in Nigeria three percent of the 0–14 age group had been infibulated. The type of procedure is often linked to ethnicity. In Eritrea, for example, a survey in 2002 found that all Hedareb girls had been infibulated, compared with two percent of the Tigrinya, most of whom fell into the "cut, no flesh removed" category.
Support from women
Dahabo Musa, a Somali woman, described infibulation in a 1988 poem as the "three feminine sorrows": the procedure itself, the wedding night when the woman is cut open, then childbirth when she is cut again. Despite the evident suffering, it is women who organize all forms of FGM. Anthropologist Rose Oldfield Hayes wrote in 1975 that educated Sudanese men who did not want their daughters to be infibulated (preferring clitoridectomy) would find the girls had been sewn up after the grandmothers arranged a visit to relatives.:620, 624
Gerry Mackie has compared FGM to footbinding. Like FGM, footbinding was carried out on young girls, nearly universal where practised, tied to ideas about honour, chastity and appropriate marriage, and supported by women.[p] FGM practitioners see the procedures as marking not only ethnic boundaries but also gender difference. According to this view, FGM demasculinizes women, while male circumcision defeminizes men.
Fuambai Ahmadu, an anthropologist and member of the Kono people of Sierra Leone, who in 1992 underwent clitoridectomy as an adult during a Sande society initiation, argued in 2000 that it is a male-centred assumption that the clitoris is important to female sexuality. African female symbolism revolves instead around the concept of the womb. Infibulation draws on that idea of enclosure and fertility. "[G]enital cutting completes the social definition of a child's sex by eliminating external traces of androgyny," Janice Boddy wrote in 2007. "The female body is then covered, closed, and its productive blood bound within; the male body is unveiled, opened and exposed."
In communities where infibulation is common, there is a preference for women's genitals to be smooth, dry and without odour, and both women and men may find the natural vulva repulsive.:435–436 Men seem to enjoy the effort of penetrating an infibulation. The local preference for dry sex causes women to introduce substances into the vagina to reduce lubrication, including leaves, tree bark, toothpaste and Vicks menthol rub. The WHO includes this practice within Type IV FGM, because the added friction during intercourse can cause lacerations and increase the risk of infection. Because of the smooth appearance of an infibulated vulva, there is also a belief that infibulation increases hygiene.:437
Common reasons for FGM cited by women in surveys are social acceptance, religion, hygiene, preservation of virginity, marriageability and enhancement of male sexual pleasure. In a study in northern Sudan, published in 1983, only 17.4 percent of women opposed FGM (558 out of 3,210), and most preferred excision and infibulation over clitoridectomy. Attitudes are changing slowly. In Sudan in 2010, 42 percent of women who had heard of FGM said the practice should continue. In several surveys since 2006, over 50 percent of women in Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gambia and Egypt supported FGM's continuance, while elsewhere in Africa, Iraq and Yemen most said it should end, although in several countries only by a narrow margin.
Social obligation, poor access to information
Against the argument that women willingly choose FGM for their daughters, UNICEF calls the practice a "self-enforcing social convention" to which families feel they must conform to avoid uncut daughters facing social exclusion.
Ellen Gruenbaum reports that, in Sudan in the 1970s, cut girls from an Arab ethnic group would mock uncut Zabarma girls with Ya, Ghalfa! ("Hey, unclean!"). The Zabarma girls would respond Ya, mutmura! (A mutmara was a storage pit for grain that was continually opened and closed, like an infibulated woman.) But despite throwing the insult back, the Zabarma girls would ask their mothers, "What's the matter? Don't we have razor blades like the Arabs?":432–433
Because of poor access to information, and because circumcisers downplay the causal connection, women may not associate the health consequences with the procedure. Lala Baldé, president of a women's association in Medina Cherif, a village in Senegal, told Mackie in 1998 that when girls fell ill or died, it was attributed to evil spirits. When informed of the causal relationship between FGM and ill health, Mackie wrote, the women broke down and wept. Mackie argued that surveys taken before and after this sharing of information would show very different levels of support for FGM.
The American non-profit group Tostan, founded by Molly Melching in 1991, introduced community-empowerment programmes in several countries that focus on local democracy, literacy, and education about healthcare, giving women the tools to make their own decisions. In 1997, using the Tostan programme, Malicounda Bambara in Senegal became the first village to abandon FGM. By 2016, over 7,300 communities in six countries had pledged to abandon FGM and child marriage.
Surveys have shown a widespread belief, particularly in Mali, Mauritania, Guinea and Egypt, that FGM is a religious requirement. Gruenbaum has argued that practitioners may not distinguish between religion, tradition and chastity, making it difficult to interpret the data.
FGM's origins in northeastern Africa are pre-Islamic, but the practice became associated with Islam because of that religion's focus on female chastity and seclusion.[q] There is no mention of it in the Quran. It is praised in several hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad) as noble but not required.[r] In 2007 the Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research in Cairo ruled that FGM had "no basis in core Islamic law or any of its partial provisions."[s]
There is no mention of FGM in the Bible. Christian missionaries in Africa were among the first to object to FGM, but Christian communities in Africa do practise it. UNICEF reported in 2013 that, for example, 55 percent of Christian women and girls in Niger had experienced FGM, compared with two percent of their Muslim counterparts. The only Jewish group known to have practised it are the Beta Israel of Ethiopia. Judaism requires male circumcision, but does not allow FGM. FGM is also practised by animist groups, particularly in Guinea and Mali.
The practice's origins are unknown, but its east-west, north-south distribution in Africa meets in Sudan. Gerry Mackie has suggested that infibulation began there with the Meroite civilization (c. 800 BCE — c. 350 CE), before the rise of Islam, to increase confidence in paternity. According to historian Mary Knight, Spell 1117 (c. 1991–1786 BCE) of the Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts may refer in hieroglyphs to an uncircumcised girl ('m't):
The spell was found on the sarcophagus of Sit-hedjhotep, now in the Egyptian Museum, and dates to Egypt's Middle Kingdom.[t] (Paul F. O'Rourke argues that 'm't probably refers instead to a menstruating woman.) The proposed circumcision of an Egyptian girl, Tathemis, is also mentioned on a Greek papyrus, from 163 BCE, in the British Museum:
Sometime after this, Nephoris [Tathemis's mother] defrauded me, being anxious that it was time for Tathemis to be circumcised, as is the custom among the Egyptians. She asked that I give her 1,300 drachmae ... to clothe her ... and to provide her with a marriage dowry ... if she didn't do each of these or if she did not circumcise Tathemis in the month of Mecheir, year 18 [163 BCE], she would repay me 2,400 drachmae on the spot.
The examination of mummies has shown no evidence of FGM. Citing the Australian pathologist Grafton Elliot Smith, who examined hundreds of mummies in the early 20th century, Knight writes that the genital area may resemble Type III because during mummification the skin of the outer labia was pulled toward the anus to cover the pudendal cleft, possibly to prevent sexual violation. It was similarly not possible to determine whether Types I or II had been performed, because soft tissues had deteriorated or been removed by the embalmers.
The Greek geographer Strabo (c. 64 BCE – c. 23 CE) wrote about FGM after visiting Egypt around 25 BCE (right).[u][v] The philosopher Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BCE – 50 CE) also made reference to it: "the Egyptians by the custom of their country circumcise the marriageable youth and maid in the fourteenth (year) of their age, when the male begins to get seed, and the female to have a menstrual flow." It is mentioned briefly in a work attributed to the Greek physician Galen (129 – c. 200 CE): "When [the clitoris] sticks out to a great extent in their young women, Egyptians consider it appropriate to cut it out."[w]
Another Greek physician, Aëtius of Amida (mid-5th to mid-6th century CE), offered more detail in book 16 of his Sixteen Books on Medicine, citing the physician Philomenes. The procedure was performed in case the clitoris, or nymphê, grew too large or triggered sexual desire when rubbing against clothing. "On this account, it seemed proper to the Egyptians to remove it before it became greatly enlarged", Aëtius wrote, "especially at that time when the girls were about to be married":
The surgery is performed in this way: Have the girl sit on a chair while a muscled young man standing behind her places his arms below the girl's thighs. Have him separate and steady her legs and whole body. Standing in front and taking hold of the clitoris with a broad-mouthed forceps in his left hand, the surgeon stretches it outward, while with the right hand, he cuts it off at the point next to the pincers of the forceps.It is proper to let a length remain from that cut off, about the size of the membrane that's between the nostrils, so as to take away the excess material only; as I have said, the part to be removed is at that point just above the pincers of the forceps. Because the clitoris is a skinlike structure and stretches out excessively, do not cut off too much, as a urinary fistula may result from cutting such large growths too deeply.[x]
The genital area was then cleaned with a sponge, frankincense powder and wine or cold water, and wrapped in linen bandages dipped in vinegar, until the seventh day when calamine, rose petals, date pits or a "genital powder made from baked clay" might be applied.
Whatever the practice's origins, infibulation became linked to slavery. Mackie cites the Portuguese missionary João dos Santos, who in 1609 wrote of a group inland from Mogadishu who had a "custome to sew up their Females, especially their slaves being young to make them unable for conception, which makes these slaves sell dearer, both for their chastitie, and for better confidence which their Masters put in them." The English explorer William Browne wrote in 1799 that the Egyptians practised excision, and that slaves in that country were infibulated to prevent pregnancy. Thus, Mackie argues, a "practice associated with shameful female slavery came to stand for honor."
Europe and the United States
Gynaecologists in 19th-century Europe and the United States removed the clitoris to treat insanity and masturbation. British doctor Robert Thomas suggested clitoridectomy as a cure for nymphomania in 1813. The first reported clitoridectomy in the West, described in The Lancet in 1825, was performed in 1822 in Berlin by Karl Ferdinand von Graefe on a 15-year-old girl who was masturbating excessively.
Isaac Baker Brown, an English gynaecologist, president of the Medical Society of London, and co-founder in 1845 of St. Mary's Hospital there, believed that masturbation, or "unnatural irritation" of the clitoris, caused hysteria, spinal irritation, fits, idiocy, mania and death. He therefore "set to work to remove the clitoris whenever he had the opportunity of doing so", according to his obituary in the Medical Times and Gazette in 1873. Brown performed several clitoridectomies between 1859 and 1866. When he published his views in On the Curability of Certain Forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy, and Hysteria in Females (1866), doctors in London accused him of quackery and expelled him from the Obstetrical Society.
In the United States J. Marion Sims followed Brown's work, and in 1862 slit the neck of a woman's uterus and amputated her clitoris, "for the relief of the nervous or hysterical condition as recommended by Baker Brown", after the patient complained of menstrual pain, convulsions and bladder problems. Later that century A. J. Bloch, a surgeon in New Orleans, removed the clitoris of a two-year-old girl who was reportedly masturbating. According to a 1985 paper in the Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, clitoridectomy was performed in the US into the 1960s to treat hysteria, erotomania and lesbianism.
Colonial opposition in Kenya
Protestant missionaries in British East Africa (present-day Kenya) began campaigning against FGM in the early 20th century, when Dr. John Arthur joined the Church of Scotland Mission (CSM) in Kikuyu. An important ethnic marker, the practice was known by the Kikuyu, the country's main ethnic group, as irua for both girls and boys. It involved excision (Type II) for girls and removal of the foreskin for boys. Unexcised Kikuyu women (irugu) were outcasts.
Jomo Kenyatta, general secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association and Kenya's first prime minister from 1963, wrote in 1938 that, for the Kikuyu, the institution of FGM was the "conditio sine qua non of the whole teaching of tribal law, religion and morality." No proper Kikuyu man or woman would marry or have sexual relations with someone who was not circumcised. A woman's responsibilities toward the tribe began with her initiation. Her age and place within tribal history was traced to that day, and the group of girls with whom she was cut was named according to current events, an oral tradition that allowed the Kikuyu to track people and events going back hundreds of years.
Beginning with the CSM mission in 1925, several missionary churches declared that FGM was prohibited for African Christians. The CSM announced that Africans practising it would be excommunicated, which resulted in hundreds leaving or being expelled. The stand-off turned FGM into a focal point of the Kenyan independence movement; the 1929–1931 period is known in the country's historiography as the female circumcision controversy.
In 1929 the Kenya Missionary Council began referring to FGM as the "sexual mutilation of women", rather than circumcision, and a person's stance toward the practice became a test of loyalty, either to the Christian churches or to the Kikuyu Central Association. Hulda Stumpf, an American missionary with the Africa Inland Mission who opposed FGM in the girls' school she helped to run, was murdered in 1930. Edward Grigg, the governor of Kenya, told the British Colonial Office that the killer, who was never identified, had tried to circumcise her.
In 1956 the council of male elders (the Njuri Nchecke) in Meru announced a ban on FGM. Over the next three years, thousands of girls cut each other's genitals with razor blades as a symbol of defiance. The movement came to be known as Ngaitana ("I will circumcise myself"), because to avoid naming their friends the girls said they had cut themselves. Historian Lynn Thomas described the episode as significant in the history of FGM because it made clear that its victims were also its perpetrators.
Growth of opposition
The first known non-colonial campaign against FGM began in Egypt in the 1920s, when the Egyptian Doctors' Society called for a ban. There was a parallel campaign in Sudan, run by religious leaders and British women. Infibulation was banned there in 1946, but the law was unpopular and barely enforced.[y] The Egyptian government banned infibulation in state-run hospitals in 1959, but allowed partial clitoridectomy if parents requested it. (Egypt banned FGM entirely in 2007.)
In 1959 the UN asked the WHO to investigate FGM, but the latter responded that it was not a medical matter. Feminists took up the issue throughout the 1970s. The Egyptian physician and feminist Nawal El Saadawi criticized FGM in her book Women and Sex (1972); the book was banned in Egypt and El Saadawi lost her job as director general of public health. She followed up with a chapter, "The Circumcision of Girls," in The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World (1980), which described her own clitoridectomy when she was six years old:
I did not know what they had cut off from my body, and I did not try to find out. I just wept, and called out to my mother for help. But the worst shock of all was when I looked around and found her standing by my side. Yes, it was her, I could not be mistaken, in flesh and blood, right in the midst of these strangers, talking to them and smiling at them, as though they had not participated in slaughtering her daughter just a few moments ago.
In 1975 Rose Oldfield Hayes, an American social scientist, became the first female academic to publish a detailed account of FGM, aided by her ability to discuss it directly with women in Sudan. Her article in American Ethnologist called it "female genital mutilation," rather than female circumcision, and brought it to wider academic attention.:21
In 1977 Edna Adan Ismail, who worked at the time for the Somalia Ministry of Health, raised the health consequences of FGM with the Somali Women's Democratic Organization. Two years later Fran Hosken, an Austria-American feminist, published The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females (1979), the first to offer global figures. She estimated that 110,529,000 women in 20 African countries had experienced FGM. The figures were speculative but consistent with later surveys. Describing FGM as a "training ground for male violence," Hosken accused female practitioners of "participating in the destruction of their own kind.":5 The language caused a rift between Western and African feminists; African women boycotted a session featuring Hosken during the UN's Mid-Decade Conference on Women in Copenhagen in July 1980.
In 1979 the WHO held a seminar, "Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children," in Khartoum, Sudan, and in 1981, also in Khartoum, 150 academics and activists signed a pledge to fight FGM after a workshop held by the Babiker Badri Scientific Association for Women's Studies (BBSAWS), "Female Circumcision Mutilates and Endangers Women – Combat it!" Another BBSAWS workshop in 1984 invited the international community to write a joint statement for the United Nations. It recommended that the "goal of all African women" should be the eradication of FGM and that, to sever the link between FGM and religion, clitoridectomy should no longer be referred to as sunna.
The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, founded in 1984 in Dakar, Senegal, called for an end to the practice, as did the UN's World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993. The conference listed FGM as a form of violence against women, marking it as a human-rights violation, rather than a medical issue. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s governments in Africa and the Middle East passed legislation banning or restricting FGM. In 2003 the African Union ratified the Maputo Protocol on the rights of women, which supported the elimination of FGM. By 2015 laws restricting FGM had been passed in at least 23 of the 27 African countries in which it is concentrated, although several fell short of a ban.[z]
In December 1993 the United Nations General Assembly included FGM in resolution 48/104, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and from 2003 sponsored International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, held every 6 February.
UNICEF began in 2003 to promote an evidence-based social norms approach to the evaluation of intervention, using ideas from game theory about how communities reach decisions about FGM, and building on the work of Gerry Mackie on the ending of footbinding in China. In 2005 the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre in Florence published its first report on FGM.
UNFPA and UNICEF launched a joint programme in Africa in 2007 to reduce FGM by 40 percent within the 0–15 age group and eliminate it from at least one country by 2012, goals that were not met.[aa] In 2008 several UN bodies recognized FGM as a human-rights violation, and in 2012 the General Assembly passed resolution 67/146, "Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations."
Immigration spread the practice to Australia, New Zealand, Europe, North America and Scandinavia, all of which outlawed it entirely or restricted it to consenting adults. Sweden outlawed it in 1982, the first Western country to do so.:611 Several former colonial powers, including Belgium, Britain, France and the Netherlands, introduced new laws or made clear that it was covered by existing legislation. As of 2013[update] legislation banning FGM had been passed in 33 countries outside Africa and the Middle East.
Canada recognized FGM as a form of persecution in July 1994, when it granted refugee status to Khadra Hassan Farah, who had fled Somalia to avoid her daughter being cut. In 1997 section 268 of its Criminal Code was amended to ban FGM, except where "the person is at least eighteen years of age and there is no resulting bodily harm." As of May 2016[update] there had been no prosecutions.
In the United States an estimated 513,000 women and girls had experienced FGM or were at risk as of 2012.[ab] A Nigerian woman successfully contested deportation in March 1994 on the grounds that her daughters might be cut, and in 1996 Fauziya Kasinga from Togo became the first to be granted asylum to escape FGM. In 1996 the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act made it illegal to perform FGM on minors for non-medical reasons, and in 2013 the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act prohibited transporting a minor out of the country for the purpose of FGM. In addition, 24 states have legislation banning FGM.:2 The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes all forms of the practice.[ac] The first FGM conviction in the US was in 2006, when Khalid Adem, who had emigrated from Ethiopia, was sentenced to ten years after severing his two-year-old daughter's clitoris with a pair of scissors.[ad]
According to the European Parliament, 500,000 women in Europe had undergone FGM as of March 2009[update]. France is known for its tough stance against FGM. Up to 30,000 women there were thought to have experienced it as of 1995. According to Colette Gallard, a family-planning counsellor, when FGM was first encountered in France, the reaction was that Westerners ought not to intervene. It took the deaths of two girls in 1982, one of them three months old, for that attitude to change. In 1991 a French court ruled that the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees offered protection to FGM victims; the decision followed an asylum application from Aminata Diop, who fled an FGM procedure in Mali.
The practice is outlawed by a provision of France's penal code dealing with violence against children. All children under six who were born in France undergo medical examinations that include inspection of the genitals, and doctors are obliged to report FGM. The first civil suit was in 1982 and the first criminal prosecution in 1993. In 1999 a woman was given an eight-year sentence for having performed FGM on 48 girls. By 2014 over 100 parents and two practitioners had been prosecuted in over 40 criminal cases.
Around 137,000 women and girls living in England and Wales were born in countries where FGM is practised (as of 2011). Performing FGM on children or adults was outlawed under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985. This was replaced by the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 and Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005, which added a prohibition on arranging FGM outside the country for British citizens or permanent residents.[ae] The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women asked the government in 2013 to "ensure the full implementation of its legislation on FGM." The first charges were brought the following year against a physician and another man, after the physician stitched an infibulated woman after opening her for childbirth. Both men were acquitted in 2015.
Criticism of opposition
Tolerance versus human rights
Anthropologist Eric Silverman wrote in 2004 that FGM had "emerged as one of the central moral topics of contemporary anthropology." Anthropologists have accused FGM eradicationists of cultural colonialism. In turn, anthropologists have been criticized for their moral relativism and failure to defend the idea of universal human rights.
According to the opposition's critics, the biological reductionism of the opposition to FGM, and the failure to appreciate FGM's cultural context, serves to "other" practitioners and undermines their agency—in particular when parents are referred to as "mutilators". Africans who object to the tone of the opposition to FGM risk appearing to defend the practice. Feminist theorist Obioma Nnaemeka—herself strongly opposed to FGM ("If one is circumcised, it is one too many")—argues that renaming it female genital mutilation introduced "a subtext of barbaric African and Muslim cultures and the West's relevance (even indispensability) in purging [it]".
According to Ugandan law professor Sylvia Tamale, early Western opposition to FGM stemmed from a Judeo-Christian judgment that African sexual and family practices—including dry sex, polygyny, bride price and levirate marriage—were primitive and required correction. African feminists "do not condone the negative aspects of the practice", writes Tamale, but "take strong exception to the imperialist, racist and dehumanising infantilization of African women".
The debate has highlighted a tension between anthropology and feminism, with the former's focus on tolerance and the latter's on equal rights for all women. According to the anthropologist Christine Walley, a common trope within the anti-FGM literature has been to present African women as victims of false consciousness participating in their own oppression, a position promoted by feminists in the 1970s and 1980s, including Fran Hosken, Mary Daly and Hanny Lightfoot-Klein. It prompted the French Association of Anthropologists to issue a statement in 1981, at the height of the early debates, that "a certain feminism resuscitates (today) the moralistic arrogance of yesterday's colonialism."
Commentators highlight the appropriation of women's bodies as exhibits. Historian Chima Korieh cites the publication in 1996 of the Pulitzer-prize-winning photographs (above) of a 16-year-old Kenyan girl undergoing FGM. The photographs were published by 12 American newspapers, although the girl had not given permission for the images to be taken, much less published.
Comparison with other procedures
Nnaemeka argues that the crucial question, broader than FGM, is why the female body is subjected to so much "abuse and indignity", including in the West. Several authors have drawn a parallel between FGM and cosmetic procedures.:32 Ronán Conroy of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland wrote in 2006 that cosmetic genital procedures were "driving the advance of female genital mutilation" by encouraging women to see natural variations as defects. Anthropologist Fadwa El Guindi compares FGM to breast enhancement, in which the maternal function of the breast becomes secondary to men's sexual pleasure. Benoîte Groult made a similar point in 1975, citing FGM and cosmetic surgery as sexist and patriarchal.
Carla Obermeyer maintains that FGM may be conducive to a subject's social well-being in the same way that rhinoplasty and male circumcision are. In Egypt, despite the 2007 ban, women wanting FGM for their daughters seek amalyet tajmeel (cosmetic surgery) to remove what is viewed as excess genital tissue for a more acceptable appearance.
The WHO does not cite procedures such as labiaplasty and clitoral hood reduction as examples of FGM, but its definition aims to avoid loopholes, so several elective practices fall within its categories. Some of the laws banning FGM, including in Canada and the US, focus only on minors. Several countries, including Sweden and the UK, have banned it regardless of consent, and the legislation would seem to cover cosmetic procedures. Sweden, for example, has banned "[o]perations on the external female genital organs which are designed to mutilate them or produce other permanent changes in them ... regardless of whether consent to this operation has or has not been given." Gynaecologist Birgitta Essén and anthropologist Sara Johnsdotter note that it seems the law distinguishes between Western and African genitals, and deems only African women (such as those seeking reinfibulation after childbirth) unfit to make their own decisions.:33:613
Arguing against suggested similarities between FGM and dieting or body shaping, philosopher Martha Nussbaum writes that a key difference is that FGM is mostly conducted on children using physical force. She argues that the distinction between social pressure and physical force is morally and legally salient, comparable to the distinction between seduction and rape. She argues further that the literacy of women in practising countries is generally poorer than in developed nations, and that this reduces their ability to make informed choices.
Several commentators maintain that children's rights are violated with the genital alteration of intersex children, who are born with anomalies that physicians choose to correct. Legal scholars Nancy Ehrenreich and Mark Barr write that thousands of these procedures take place every year in the United States, and say that they are medically unnecessary, more extensive than FGM, and have more serious physical and mental consequences. They attribute the silence of anti-FGM campaigners about intersex procedures to white privilege and a refusal to acknowledge that "similar unnecessary and harmful genital cutting occurs in their own backyards."
- UNICEF 2013: "There is a social obligation to conform to the practice and a widespread belief that if they [families] do not, they are likely to pay a price that could include social exclusion, criticism, ridicule, stigma or the inability to find their daughters suitable marriage partners."
Nahid F. Toubia, Eiman Hussein Sharief, 2003: "One of the great achievements of the past decade in the field of FGM is the shift in emphasis from the concern over the harmful physical effects it causes to understanding this act as a social phenomenon resulting from a gender definition of women's roles, in particular their sexual and reproductive roles. This shift in emphasis has helped redefine the issues from a clinical disease model (hence the terminology of eradication prevalent in the literature) to a problem resulting from the use of culture to protect social dominance over women's bodies by the patriarchal hierarchy. Understanding the operative mechanisms of patriarchal dominance must also include understanding how women, particularly older married women, are important keepers of that social hegemony."
- For example, "a young woman must 'have her bath' before she has a baby".
- UNICEF 2005: "The large majority of girls and women are cut by a traditional practitioner, a category which includes local specialists (cutters or exciseuses), traditional birth attendants and, generally, older members of the community, usually women. This is true for over 80 percent of the girls who undergo the practice in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Tanzania and Yemen. In most countries, medical personnel, including doctors, nurses and certified midwives, are not widely involved in the practice."
- A 2003 study in Ghana found that in 1995 four percent said they had not undergone FGM, but in 2000 said they had, while 11 percent switched in the other direction. In Tanzania in 2005, 66 percent reported FGM, but a medical exam found that 73 percent had undergone it. In Sudan in 2006, a significant percentage of infibulated women and girls reported a less severe type.
- UNICEF 2013: "These categories do not fully match the WHO typology. Cut, no flesh removed describes a practice known as nicking or pricking, which currently is categorized as Type IV. Cut, some flesh removed corresponds to Type I (clitoridectomy) and Type II (excision) combined. And sewn closed corresponds to Type III, infibulation."
- WHO, 1995: "[There is a] common tendency to describe Type I as removal of the prepuce, whereas this has not been documented as a traditional form of female genital mutilation. However, in some countries, medicalized female genital mutilation can include removal of the prepuce only (Type Ia) (Thabet and Thabet, 2003), but this form appears to be relatively rare (Satti et al, 2006). Almost all known forms of female genital mutilation that remove tissue from the clitoris also cut all or part of the clitoral glans itself."
- Susan Izett and Nahid Toubia, 1998: "[T]he clitoris is held between the thumb and index finger, pulled out and amputated with one stroke of a sharp object."
- WHO 2014: "Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation). "Type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; Type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora."
- USAID 2008: "Infibulation is practiced largely in countries located in northeastern Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. ... Sudan alone accounts for about 3.5 million of the women. ... [T]he estimate of the total number of women infibulated in [Djibouti, Somalia, Eritrea, northern Sudan, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tanzania, for women 15–49 years old] comes to 8,245,449, or just over eight million women."
- Jasmine Abdulcadira, Swiss Medical Weekly, 2011:"In the case of infibulation, the urethral opening and part of the vaginal opening are covered by the scar. In a virgin infibulated woman the small opening left for the menstrual fluid and the urine is not wider than 2–3 mm; in sexually active women and after the delivery the vaginal opening is wider but the urethral orifice is often still covered by the scar."
- Elizabeth Kelly, Paula J. Adams Hillard, Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2005: "Women commonly undergo reinfibulation after a vaginal delivery. In addition to reinfibulation, many women in Sudan undergo a second type of re-suturing called El-Adel, which is performed to recreate the size of the vaginal orifice to be similar to the size created at the time of primary infibulation. Two small cuts are made around the vaginal orifice to expose new tissues to suture, and then sutures are placed to tighten the vaginal orifice and perineum. This procedure, also called re-circumcision, is primarily performed after vaginal delivery, but can also be performed before marriage, after cesarean section, after divorce, and sometimes even in elderly women as a preparation before death.":491
- WHO 2005: "In some areas (e.g. parts of Congo and mainland Tanzania), FGM entails the pulling of the labia minora and/or clitoris over a period of about 2 to 3 weeks. The procedure is initiated by an old woman designated for this task, who puts sticks of a special type in place to hold the stretched genital parts so that they do not revert back to their original size. The girl is instructed to pull her genitalia every day, to stretch them further, and to put additional sticks in to hold the stretched parts from time to time. This pulling procedure is repeated daily for a period of about two weeks, and usually no more than four sticks are used to hold the stretched parts, as further pulling and stretching would make the genital parts unacceptably long.":31
- In this table and above, these are the countries for which nationally representative figures are available (UNICEF 2016).
- UNICEF 2013: "The percentage of girls and women of reproductive age (15 to 49) who have experienced any form of FGM/C is the first indicator used to show how widespread the practice is in a particular country ... A second indicator of national prevalence measures the extent of cutting among daughters aged 0 to 14, as reported by their mothers. Prevalence data for girls reflect their current – not final – FGM/C status, since many of them may not have reached the customary age for cutting at the time of the survey. They are reported as being uncut but are still at risk of undergoing the procedure. Statistics for girls under age 15 therefore need to be interpreted with a high degree of caution ..." An additional complication in judging prevalence among girls is that, in countries running campaigns against FGM, women might not report that their daughters have been cut.
- UNICEF 2014: "If there is no reduction in the practice between now and 2050, the number of girls cut each year will grow from 3.6 million in 2013 to 6.6 million in 2050. But if the rate of progress achieved over the last 30 years is maintained, the number of girls affected annually will go from 3.6 million today to 4.1 million in 2050. "In either scenario, the total number of girls and women cut will continue to increase due to population growth. If nothing is done, the number of girls and women affected will grow from 133 million today to 325 million in 2050. However, if the progress made so far is sustained, the number will grow from 133 million to 196 million in 2050, and almost 130 million girls will be spared this grave assault to their human rights."
- Gerry Mackie, 1996: "Footbinding and infibulation correspond as follows. Both customs are nearly universal where practiced; they are persistent and are practiced even by those who oppose them. Both control sexual access to females and ensure female chastity and fidelity. Both are necessary for proper marriage and family honor. Both are believed to be sanctioned by tradition. Both are said to be ethnic markers, and distinct ethnic minorities may lack the practices. Both seem to have a past of contagious diffusion. Both are exaggerated over time and both increase with status. Both are supported and transmitted by women, are performed on girls about six to eight years old, and are generally not initiation rites. Both are believed to promote health and fertility. Both are defined as aesthetically pleasing compared with the natural alternative. Both are said to properly exaggerate the complementarity of the sexes, and both are claimed to make intercourse more pleasurable for the male."
- Gerry Mackie, 1996: "FGM is pre-Islamic but was exaggerated by its intersection with the Islamic modesty code of family honor, female purity, virginity, chastity, fidelity, and seclusion."
- Gerry Mackie, 1996: "The Koran is silent on FGM, but several hadith (sayings attributed to Mohammed) recommend attenuating the practice for the woman's sake, praise it as noble but not commanded, or advise that female converts refrain from mutilation because even if pleasing to the husband it is painful to the wife."
- Maggie Michael, Associated Press, 2007: "[Egypt's] supreme religious authorities stressed that Islam is against female circumcision. It's prohibited, prohibited, prohibited," Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said on the privately owned al-Mahwar network."
- Knight adds that Egyptologists are uncomfortable with the translation to uncircumcised, because there is no information about what constituted the circumcised state.
- Strabo, Geographica, c. 25 BCE: "One of the customs most zealously observed among the Aegyptians is this, that they rear every child that is born, and circumcise [περιτέμνειν, peritemnein] the males, and excise [ektemnein] the females, as is also customary among the Jews, who are also Aegyptians in origin, as I have already stated in my account of them."
Book XVI, chapter 4, 16.4.9: "And then to the Harbour of Antiphilus, and, above this, to the Creophagi [meat-eaters], of whom the males have their sexual glands mutilated [kolobos] and the women are excised [ektemnein] in the Jewish fashion."
- Knight 2001 writes that there is one extant reference from antiquity, from Xanthus of Lydia in the fifth century BCE, that may allude to FGM outside Egypt. Xanthus wrote, in a history of Lydia: "The Lydians arrived at such a state of delicacy that they were even the first to 'castrate' their women." Knight argues that the "castration", which is not described, may have kept women youthful, in the sense of allowing the Lydian king to have intercourse with them without pregnancy. Knight concludes that it may have been a reference to sterilization, not FGM.
- Knight adds that the attribution to Galen is suspect.
- A paragraph break has been added for ease of reading.
- FGM is still practised in Sudan. Some states banned it in 2008–2009, but as of 2013[update], there was no national legislation.
- For example, UNICEF 2013 lists Mauritania as having passed legislation against FGM, but (as of that year) it was banned only from being conducted in government facilities or by medical personnel.
The following are countries in which FGM is common and in which restrictions are in place. An asterisk indicates a ban:
Benin (2003), Burkina Faso (1996*), Central African Republic (1966, amended 1996), Chad (2003), Côte d'Ivoire (1998), Djibouti (1995, amended 2009*), Egypt (2008*), Eritrea (2007*), Ethiopia (2004*), Ghana (1994, amended 2007), Guinea (1965, amended 2000*), Guinea-Bissau (2011*), Iraq (2011*), Kenya (2001, amended 2011*), Mauritania (2005), Niger (2003), Nigeria (2015*), Senegal (1999*), Somalia (2012*), Sudan, some states (2008–2009), Tanzania (1998), Togo (1998), Uganda (2010*), Yemen (2001*).:12
- Fifteen countries joined the programme: Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Senegal and Sudan in 2008; Burkina Faso, Gambia, Uganda and Somalia in 2009; and Eritrea, Mali and Mauritania in 2011.
- The Centers for Disease Control's previous estimate was 168,000 as of 1990.
- In 2010 the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that "pricking or incising the clitoral skin" was a harmless procedure that might satisfy parents, but it withdrew the statement after complaints.
- In 2014 President Barack Obama spoke about FGM for the first time, calling it "a tradition that's barbaric and should be eliminated."
- Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003: "A person is guilty of an offence if he excises, infibulates or otherwise mutilates the whole or any part of a girl's labia majora, labia minora or clitoris," unless "necessary for her physical or mental health." Although the legislation refers to girls, it applies to women too.
- "Classification of female genital mutilation", Geneva: World Health Organization, 2014.
- Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Statistical Overview and Exploration of the Dynamics of Change, New York: United Nations Children's Fund, July 2013 (hereinafter UNICEF 2013), 5.
- "Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Global Concern", New York: United Nations Children's Fund, February 2016.
- UNICEF 2013, 50.
- For the circumcisers, blade: UNICEF 2013, 2, 44–46; for the ages: 50.
- Jasmine Abdulcadira, et al., "Care of women with female genital mutilation/cutting", Swiss Medical Weekly, 6(14), January 2011. doi:10.4414/smw.2011.13137 PMID 21213149
- UNICEF 2013, 15.
- Nahid F. Toubia, Eiman Hussein Sharief, "Female genital mutilation: have we made progress?", International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 82(3), September 2003, 251–261. doi:10.1016/S0020-7292(03)00229-7 PMID 14499972
- "Female genital mutilation", Geneva: World Health Organization, February 2016.
- Bettina Shell-Duncan, "From Health to Human Rights: Female Genital Cutting and the Politics of Intervention", American Anthropologist, New Series, 110(2), June 2008, 225–236. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1433.2008.00028.x JSTOR 27563985
- Martha Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 119.
- James Karanja, The Missionary Movement in Colonial Kenya: The Foundation of Africa Inland Church, Göttingen: Cuvillier Verlag, 2009, 93, n. 631.
- "Eliminating Female genital mutilation: An Interagency Statement", Geneva: World Health Organization, 2008 (hereinafter WHO 2008), 4, 22.
- Rose Oldfield Hayes, "Female Genital Mutilation, Fertility Control, Women's Roles, and the Patrilineage in Modern Sudan: A Functional Analysis," American Ethnologist 2(4), November 1975, 617–633. JSTOR 643328
- Fran Hosken, The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females, Lexington: Women's International Network, 1994 .
- Claire C. Robertson, "Getting beyond the Ew! Factor: Rethinking U.S. Approaches to African Female Genital Cutting", in Stanlie M. James and Claire C. Robertson (eds.), Genital Cutting and Transnational Sisterhood, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002 (54–86), 60.
- UNICEF 2013, 6–7.
- UNICEF 2013, 48.
- Chantal Zabus, "The Excised Body in African Texts and Contexts," in Merete Falck Borch (ed.), Bodies and Voices: The Force-field of Representation and Discourse in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, New York: Rodopi, 2008, 47.
- Chantal Zabus, "'Writing with an Accent': From Early Decolonization to Contemporary Gender Issues in the African Novel in French, English, and Arabic," in Simona Bertacco (ed.), Language and Translation in Postcolonial Literatures, New York: Routledge, 2013, 40.
- Fadwa El Guindi, "Had This Been Your Face, Would You Leave It as Is?" in Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf (ed.), Female Circumcision: Multicultural Perspectives, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007, 30.
- Clarence-Smith, William G. "Islam and Female Genital Cutting in Southeast Asia: The Weight of the Past", Finnish Journal of Ethnicity and Migration, 3(2), 2008, 14.
- Ibrahim Lethome Asmani, Maryam Sheikh Abdi, De-linking Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting from Islam, Washington: Frontiers in Reproductive Health, Population Council, 2008, 3–5.
- Ellen Gruenbaum, The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001, 2–3.
- Leonard J. Kouba, Judith Muasher, "Female Circumcision in Africa: An Overview," African Studies Review, 28(1), March 1985 (95–1100), 96–97. JSTOR 524569
- Raqiya D. Abdalla, "'My Grandmother Called it the Three Feminine Sorrows': The Struggle of Women Against Female Circumcision in Somalia", in Abusharaf 2007, 190.
- UNICEF 2013, 42–44 and table 5, 181 (for cutters), 46 (for home and anaesthesia).
- Michael Miller and Francesca Moneti, Changing a harmful social convention: Female genital cutting/mutilation, Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2005 (hereinafter UNICEF 2005), 7.
- Elizabeth Kelly, Paula J. Adams Hillard, "Female genital mutilation", Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 17(5), October 2005, 490–494. PMID 16141763
- Wairagala Wakabi, "Africa battles to make female genital mutilation history", The Lancet, 369 (9567), 31 March 2007, 1069–1070. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60508-X PMID 17405200
- UNICEF 2013, 43–45.
- UNICEF 2013, 46.
- P. Stanley Yoder, Shanxiao Wang, Elise Johansen, "Estimates of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in 27 African Countries and Yemen", Studies in Family Planning, 44(2), June 2013 (189–204), 190. doi:10.1111/j.1728-4465.2013.00352.x PMID 23720002
- Elizabeth F. Jackson, et al., "Inconsistent reporting of female genital cutting status in northern Ghana: Explanatory factors and analytical consequences", Studies in Family Planning, 34(3), 2003, 200–210. PMID 14558322
- Elise Klouman, Rachel Manongi, Knut-Inge Klepp, "Self-reported and observed female genital cutting in rural Tanzania: Associated demographic factors, HIV and sexually transmitted infections", Tropical Medicine and International Health 10(1), 2005, 105–115. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2004.01350.x PMID 15655020
- Susan Elmusharaf, Nagla Elhadi, Lars Almroth, "Reliability of self reported form of female genital mutilation and WHO classification: cross sectional study", British Medical Journal, 332(7559), 27 June 2006. doi:10.1136/bmj.38873.649074.55 PMID 16803943 PMC 1502195
- Yoder 2013, 189; UNICEF 2013, 47.
- WHO Guidelines on the Management of Health Complications from Female Genital Mutilation, Geneva: World Health Organization, 2016 (hereinafter WHO 2016). PMID 27359024
- Jasmine Abdulcadir, et al., "Female Genital Mutilation: A Visual Reference and Learning Tool for Health Care Professionals"], Obstetrics & Gynecology, 128(5), November 2016, 958–963. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000001686 PMID 27741194
- WHO 2008, 4, 23–28.
- Box 1.1 "Types of FGM", WHO 2016.
- WHO 2008, 25
Also see Nahid Toubia, "Female Circumcision as a Public Health Issue", The New England Journal of Medicine, 331(11), 1994, 712–716. doi:10.1056/NEJM199409153311106 PMID 8058079
Carol R. Horowitz, J. Carey Jackson, Mamae Teklemariam, "Female Circumcision" (letters), The New England Journal of Medicine, 332, 19 January 1995, 188–190; Toubia's reply. doi:10.1056/NEJM199501193320313
- WHO 2008, 4.
- Susan Izett, Nahid Toubia, Female Genital Mutilation: An Overview, Geneva: World Health Organization, 1998.
- P. Stanley Yoder, Shane Khan, "Numbers of women circumcised in Africa: The Production of a Total", USAID, DHS Working Papers, No. 39, March 2008, 13–14.
- "Frequently Asked Questions on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting", United Nations Population Fund, April 2010.
- Comfort Momoh, "Female genital mutilation" in Comfort Momoh (ed.), Female Genital Mutilation, Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing, 2005, 7.
- Edna Adan Ismail, "Female genital mutilation survey in Somaliland", Edna Adan Maternity and Teaching Hospital, 2009, 12; Abusharaf 2007, 190.
- El Guindi 2007, 43.
- For a twig, Momoh 2005, 7.
- Ismail 2009, 14.
- Momoh 2005, 6–7; Ismail 2009, 14.
- Abdalla 2007, 190–191, 198; for the relatives, Ismail 2009, 14.
- Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "The Sexual Experience and Marital Adjustment of Genitally Circumcised and Infibulated Females in The Sudan"], The Journal of Sex Research, 26(3), 1989 (375–392), 380. JSTOR 3812643
Also see El Dareer 1982, 42–49; Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Prisoners of Ritual: An Odyssey Into Female Genital Circumcision in Africa, New York: Routledge, 1989.
- Asma El Dareer, Woman, Why Do You Weep: Circumcision and its Consequences, London: Zed Press, 1982, 56–64.
Also see Rebecca J. Cooke, Bernard M. Dickens, "Special commentary on the issue of reinfibulation", International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 109(2), May 2010, 97–99. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2010.01.004 PMID 20178881
Gamal I. Serour, "The issue of reinfibulation", International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 109(2), May 2010, 93–96. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2010.01.001 PMID 20138274
Olukunmi O. Balogun, et al., "Interventions for improving outcomes for pregnant women who have experienced genital cutting", Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2, 2013. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009872.pub2 PMID 23450610
- WHO 2008, 24.
- UNICEF 2013, 7.
- WHO 2008, 27.
- "Female Genital Mutilation: A Teachers' Guide", World Health Organization, 2005.
- For the countries in which labia stretching is found (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe), see Nkiru Nzegwu, "'Osunality' (or African eroticism)" in Sylvia Tamale (ed.), African Sexualities: A Reader, Cape Town: Fahamu/Pambazuka, 2011, 262.
For the rest, Brigitte Bagnol and Esmeralda Mariano, "Politics of Naming Sexual Practices", in Tamale 2011, 272–276 (272 for Uganda).
- WHO 2008, 27.
- Mairo Usman Mandara, "Female genital cutting in Nigeria: View of Nigerian Doctors on the Medicalization Debate", in Bettina Shell-Duncan and Ylva Hernlund (eds.), Female "Circumcision" in Africa: Culture Controversy and Change, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000, 98, 100; for fistulae, 102.
- Stephanie Sinclair, "Inside a Female-Circumcision Ceremony", The New York Times Magazine, April 2006, slideshow of images from Indonesia (article).
- Rigmor C. Berg, et al., "Effects of female genital cutting on physical health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis", BMJ Open, 4(11), 2014: e006316. PMID 25416059 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006316
- Dan Reisel, Sarah M. Creighton, "Long term health consequences of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)", Maturitas, 80(1), January 2015 (48–51), 49. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.10.009 PMID 25466303
- Rigmor C. Berg, Vigdis Underland, "Immediate health consequences of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C)", Kunnskapssenteret (Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services), 2014, 4–5 (full text).
- Christos Iavazzo, Thalia A. Sardi, Ioannis D. Gkegkes, "Female genital mutilation and infections: a systematic review of the clinical evidence", Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 287(6), June 2013, 1137–1149. doi:10.1007/s00404-012-2708-5 PMID 23315098
- UNICEF 2005, 16.
- Reisel and Creighton 2015, 50.
- Amish J. Dave, Aisha Sethi, Aldo Morrone, "Female Genital Mutilation: What Every American Dermatologist Needs to Know", Dermatologic Clinics, 29(1), January 2011, 103–109. doi:10.1016/j.det.2010.09.002 PMID 21095534
- Hamid Rushwan, "Female genital mutilation: A tragedy for women's reproductive health", African Journal of Urology, 19(3), September 2013, 130–133. doi:10.1016/j.afju.2013.03.002
- El Dareer 1982, 37. Also see Asma El Dareer, "Preliminary report on a study on prevalence and epidemiology of female circumcision in Sudan today", WHO seminar, Khartoum, 10–15 February 1979; Asma el Dareer, "Female circumcision and its consequences for mother and child", Yaounde, 12–15 December 1979, cited in Rushwan 2013.
- Mumtaz Rashid, Mohammed H. Rashid, "Obstetric management of women with female genital mutilation", The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, 9(2), April 2007, 95–101. doi:10.1576/toag.9.2.095.27310
- Emily Banks, et al., "Female genital mutilation and obstetric outcome: WHO collaborative prospective study in six African countries", The Lancet, 367(9525), 3 June 2006, 1835–1841. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68805-3 PMID 16753486
- "New study shows female genital mutilation exposes women and babies to significant risk at childbirth", World Health Organization, 2 June 2006.
- Rigmor C. Berg, Eva Denison, "A Tradition in Transition: Factors Perpetuating and Hindering the Continuance of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) Summarized in a Systematic Review", Health Care for Women International, 34(10), March 2013. doi:10.1080/07399332.2012.721417. PMID 23489149 PMC 3783896
For a summary of Berg and Denison: Reisel and Creighton 2015, 51.
- Also see S. Sibiani and A. A. Rouzi, "Sexual function in women with female genital mutilation", Fertility and Sterility, 93(3), September 2008, 722–724.doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.10.035 PMID 19028385
- "New statistical report on female genital mutilation shows harmful practice is a global concern"; Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A global concern, New York: UNICEF, February 2016.
- "Indonesia", UNICEF, February 2015.
- Anggi M. Lubis and Hans Nicholas Jong, "FGM in Indonesia hits alarming level", The Jakarta Post, 6 February 2016.
- Yoder 2013, 193.
- "DHS overview", Demographic and Health Surveys; "Questionnaires and Indicator List", Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, UNICEF.
- Yoder, Wang and Johansen, 2013, 191; Dara Carr, Female genital cutting: Findings from the Demographic and Health Surveys program, Calverton, MD: Macro International Inc., 1997.
- Gerry Mackie, John LeJeune, "Social Dynamics of Abandonment of Harmful Practices: A New Look at the Theory", Innocenti Working Paper No. 2008-XXX, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2008, 5.
- Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: What Might the Future Hold?, New York: UNICEF, 22 July 2014 (hereinafter UNICEF 2014), 89–90.
- UNICEF 2013, 2.
- UNICEF 2013, 23.
- For the Dawoodi Bohra: Diane Cole, "UNICEF Estimate Of Female Genital Mutilation Up By 70 Million", NPR, 8 February 2016.
For Rahmah, Jordan: Dana Charkasi, "Female circumcision still haunts Jordanian tribe in southern Jordan", ArabNews West, 2012.
- UNICEF 2013, 4.
- UNICEF 2013, 23.
- UNICEF 2013, 25, 100; Yoder 2013, 196.
- UNICEF 2016, 1.
- Yoder 2013, 194; UNICEF 2013, 25.
- UNICEF 2014, 2.
- UNICEF 2014, 3.
- For rural areas, UNICEF 2013, 28; for wealth, 40; for education, 41.
- Gerry Mackie, "Female Genital Cutting: The Beginning of the End", in Bettina Shell-Duncan and Ylva Hernlund (eds.), Female "Circumcision" in Africa: Culture Controversy and Change, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000, 275.
- UNICEF 2013, 50.
- UNICEF 2013, 47, 183.
- UNICEF 2005, 6.
- UNICEF 2013, 51.
- UNICEF 2013, 28–37.
- UNICEF 2013. For eight percent in Iraq, 27, box 4.4, group 5; for the regions in Iraq, 31, map 4.6).
Also see Berivan A. Yasin, et al., "Female genital mutilation among Iraqi Kurdish women: a cross-sectional study from Erbil city", BMC Public Health, 13, September 2013. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-809 PMID 24010850 PMC 3844478
- Yoder 2013, 196, 198.
- "Guinea" (2012), UNICEF statistical profile, July 2014, 2/4.
- Chad: UNICEF 2013, 35–36; Nigeria: T. C. Okeke, et al., "An Overview of Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria", Annals of Medical Health Sciences Research, 2(1), Jan–June 2012, 70–73. doi:10.4103/2141-9248.96942 PMID 23209995 PMC 3507121 FGM is practised in Nigeria by the Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo, Ijaw and Kanuri people.
- UNICEF 2013, 134–135.
- UNICEF 2013, 47, table 5.2; Yoder, Wang and Johansen, 2013, 189.
- Gerry Mackie, "Female Genital Cutting: A Harmless Practice?", Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 17(2), 2003 (135–158), 148.
- Salah M. Rasheedemail, Ahmed H. Abd-Ellah, Fouad M. Yousef, "Female genital mutilation in Upper Egypt in the new millennium", International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 114(1), July 2011, 47–50. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2011.02.003 PMID 21513937
- Okeke et al. 2012, 70–73.
- Yoder 2008, 13–14.
- UNICEF 2013, 47. For the years:
UNICEF FGM statistical profiles: "Djibouti", December 2013: "Source for all charts on this page: MICS 2006"; "Eritrea", July 2014, 2/4: "Source: DHS 2002"; "Somalia", December 2013, 2/4: "Source for all charts on this page: MICS 2006."
- UNICEF 2013, 114.
- "Nigeria", UNICEF, July 2014.
- "Stephanie Welsh" Archived 7 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine., 1996 Pulitzer Prize winners
- Abdalla 2007, 187.
- Olga Khazan, "Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised", The Atlantic, 8 April 2015 (interview with Bettina Shell-Duncan).
- Gerry Mackie, "Ending Footbinding and Infibulation: A Convention Account", American Sociological Review, 61(6), December 1996 (999–1017), 999–1000.
- Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, "Introduction: The Custom in Question," in Abusharaf 2007, 8; El Guindi 2007, 36–37.
- Fuambai Ahmadu, "Rites and Wrongs: An Insider/Outsider Reflects on Power and Excision," in Shell-Duncan and Hernlund 2000, 284–285.
- Janice Boddy, Civilizing Women: British Crusades in Colonial Sudan, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007, 112.
- Ellen Gruenbaum, "Socio-Cultural Dynamics of Female Genital Cutting: Research Findings, Gaps, and Directions," Culture, Health & Sexuality, 7(5), September–October 2005, 429–441. JSTOR 4005473
- Gruenbaum 2005, 437; Gruenbaum 2001, 140.
- Bagnol and Mariano 2011, 277–281.
- WHO 2008, 27–28.
- UNICEF 2013, 67.
- Asma El Dareer, "Attitudes of Sudanese People to the Practice of Female Circumcision", International Journal of Epidemiology, 12(2), 1983 (138–144), 140. doi:10.1093/ije/12.2.138 PMID 6874206
- UNICEF 2013, 178.
- UNICEF 2013, 52: "The highest levels of support can be found in Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gambia and Egypt, where more than half the female population think the practice should continue." Also see figure 6.1, 54, and figures 8.1A – 8.1D, 90–91.
- UNICEF 2013, 15.
- Mackie 2003, 147–148.
- Nafissatou J. Diop, Amadou Moreau, Hélène Benga, "Evaluation of the Long-term Impact of the TOSTAN Programme on the Abandonment of FGM/C and Early Marriage: Results from a qualitative study in Senega", UNICEF, January 2008.
- Mackie 2000, 256ff.
- "Female Genital Cutting", Tostan, accessed 21 March 2016.
- Malick Gueye, "Social Norm Change Theorists meet again in Keur Simbara, Senegal", Tostan, 4 February 2014.
- UNICEF 2013, 69–71.
- Gruenbaum 2001, 50; Mackie and LeJeune 2008, 8.
- Mackie 1996, 1008.
- Mackie 1996, 1004–1005.
- Asmani and Abdi 2008, 6–13.
- "Fresh progress toward the elimination of female genital mutilation and cutting in Egypt", UNICEF, 2 July 2007; UNICEF 2013, 70.
- Maggie Michael, "Egypt Officials Ban Female Circumcision", Associated Press, 29 June 2007, 2.
- Samuel Waje Kunhiyop, African Christian Ethics, Zondervan, 2008, 297: "Nowhere in all of Scripture or in any of recorded church history is there even a hint that women were to be circumcised."
- Jocelyn Murray, "The Church Missionary Society and the 'Female Circumcision' Issue in Kenya 1929–1932," Journal of Religion in Africa, 8(2), 1976, 92–104. JSTOR 1594780
- UNICEF 2013, front page and 73.
- Shaye J. D. Cohen, Why Aren't Jewish Women Circumcised? Gender and Covenant In Judaism, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005, 59; Adele Berlin (ed.), "Circumcision," The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, 173.
- UNICEF 2013, 175.
- Mary Knight, "Curing Cut or Ritual Mutilation?: Some Remarks on the Practice of Female and Male Circumcision in Graeco-Roman Egypt," Isis, 92(2), June 2001 (317–338), 330. JSTOR 3080631 PMID 11590895
- Adriaan de Buck and Alan H. Gardiner, The Egyptian Coffin Texts, Volume 7, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1961, 448–450.
- Mackie 2000, 264, 267; Shell-Duncan and Hernlund 2000, 13.
Also see C. G. Seligman, "Aspects of the Hamitic problems in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan",The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1913, 40(3) (593–705), 639–646. JSTOR 2843546
Esther K. Hicks, Infibulation: Female Mutilation in Islamic Northeastern Africa, Transaction Publishers, 1996, 19ff.
- Paul F. O'Rourke, "The 'm't-Woman", Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, 134(2), February 2007 (166–172), 166ff (hieroglyphs), 172 (menstruating woman). doi:10.1524/zaes.2007.134.2.166
- Knight 2001, 329–330; F. G. Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum, British Museum, 1893, 31–32 (also here ).
- Knight 2001, 318.
- Knight 2001, 331, citing G. Elliot Smith, A Contribution to the Study of Mummification in Egypt, Cairo: L'Institut Egyptien, 1906, 30, and Marc Armand Ruffer, Studies in the Paleopathology of Egypt, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1921, 171.
- Strabo, Geographica, Book VII, chapter 2, 17.2.5. (Cohen 2005, 59ff, argues that Strabo conflated the Jews with the Egyptians).
- Knight 2001, 326.
- Knight 2001, 333.
- Knight 2001, 326.
- Knight 2001, 327–328.
- Knight 2001, 328.
- Mackie 1996, 1003, 1009.
- J. F. C. "Isaac Baker Brown, F.R.C.S.", Medical Times and Gazette, 8 February 1873, 155.
- Sarah W. Rodriguez, "Rethinking the History of Female Circumcision and Clitoridectomy: American Medicine and Female Sexuality in the Late Nineteenth Century", Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 63(3), July 2008, 323–347. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrm044 PMID 18065832
- Robert Thomas, The Modern Practice of Physick, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1813, 585–586.
- Edward Shorter, From Paralysis to Fatigue: A History of Psychosomatic Illness in the Modern Era, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008, 82.
- Shorter 2008, 82.
- Uriel Elchalal, et al., "Ritualistic Female Genital Mutilation: Current Status and Future Outlook", Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, 52(10), October 1997, 643–651. PMID 9326757
- Peter Lewis Allen, The Wages of Sin: Sex and Disease, Past and Present, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, 106.
- J. F. C. 1873, 155, cited in Allen 2000, 106.
- John Black, "Female genital mutilation: a contemporary issue, and a Victorian obsession", Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 90, July 1997, 402–405. PMID 9290425 PMC 1296388
- Elizabeth Sheehan, "Victorian Clitoridectomy: Isaac Baker Brown and His Harmless Operative Procedure," Medical Anthropology Newsletter, 12(4), August 1981. JSTOR 647794 PMID 12263443
- Deborah Kuhn McGregor, From Midwives to Medicine: The Birth of American Gynecology, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1998, 146.
- John Milton Hoberman, Testosterone Dreams: Rejuvenation, Aphrodisia, Doping, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005, 63.
- Lawrence Cutner, "Female genital mutilation", Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, 40(7), July 1985, 437–443. PMID 4022475 Cited in Nawal M. Nour, "Female Genital Cutting: A Persisting Practice", Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1(3), Summer 2008, 135–139. PMID 19015765 PMC 2582648
Also see G. J. Barker-Benfield, The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes Toward Women and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century America, New York: Routledge, 1999, 113.
- Kenneth Mufuka, "Scottish Missionaries and the Circumcision Controversy in Kenya, 1900–1960", International Review of Scottish Studies, 28, 2003, 55.
- Lynn M. Thomas,"'Ngaitana (I will circumcise myself)': Lessons from Colonial Campaigns to Ban Excision in Meru, Kenya" in Shell-Duncan and Hernlund, 2000, 132.
For irua, Jomo Kenyatta, Facing Mount Kenya, New York: Vintage Books, 1962 , 129; for irugu being outcasts, Kenyatta, 127, and Zabus 2008, 48–49.
- Kenyatta 1962 , 127–130.
- Klaus Fiedler, Christianity and African Culture, Leiden: Brill, 1996, 75.
- Boddy 2007, 241–245; Ronald Hyam, Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990; Murray 1976, 92–104.
- Thomas 2000, 132; for the "sexual mutilation of women," Karanja 2009, 93, n. 631.
Also see Robert Strayer, Jocelyn Murray, "The CMS and Female Circumcision", in Robert Strayer (ed.), The Making of Missionary Communities in East Africa, New York: State University of New York Press, 1978, 139ff.
- Boddy 2007, 241, 244; Dana Lee Robert, American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice, Macon: Mercer University Press, 1996, 230.
- Thomas 2000, 129–131 (131 for the girls as "central actors"); Lynn Thomas, Politics of the Womb: Women, Reproduction, and the State in Kenya, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003, 89–91.
Also see Lynn M. Thomas, "'Ngaitana (I will circumcise myself)': The Gender and Generational Politics of the 1956 Ban on Clitoridectomy in Meru, Kenya"], Gender and History, 8(3), November 1996, 338–363. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0424.1996.tb00062.x
- UNICEF 2013, 10, calls the Egyptian Doctors' Society opposition the "first known campaign" against FGM; for independence, Boddy 2007, 147.
- Boddy 2007, 202, 299.
- UNICEF 2013, 2, 9.
- Elizabeth Heger Boyle, Female Genital Cutting: Cultural Conflict in the Global Community, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, 92, 103.
- Boyle 2002, 41.
- Bagnol and Mariano 2011, 281.
- Gruenbaum 2001, 22.
Homa Khaleeli, "Nawal El Saadawi: Egypt's radical feminist", The Guardian, 15 April 2010.
- Nawal El Saadawi, The Hidden Face of Eve, London: Zed Books, 2007 , 14.
- Raqiya D. Abdalla, "'My Grandmother Called it the Three Feminine Sorrows': The Struggle of Women Against Female Circumcision in Somalia," in Abusharaf 2007, 201; Alexandra Topping, "Somaliland's leading lady for women's rights: 'It is time for men to step up'", The Guardian, 23 June 2014.
- Yoder and Khan 2008, 2.
- Mackie 2003, 139.
- Boyle 2002, 47; Bagnol and Mariano 2011, 281.
- Shahira Ahmed, "Babiker Badri Scientific Association for Women's Studies", in Abusharaf 2007, 176–180.
- Ahmed 2007, 180.
- Anika Rahman and Nahid Toubia, Female Genital Mutilation: A Guide to Laws and Policies Worldwide, New York: Zed Books, 2000, 10–11; for Vienna, UNICEF 2013, 8.
- Emma Bonino, "A brutal custom: Join forces to banish the mutilation of women", The New York Times, 15 September 2004; Maputo Protocol, 7–8.
- UNICEF 2013, 8.
- UNICEF 2013, 8–9.
- Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Accelerating Change, New York: UNFPA–UNICEF, Annual Report 2012.
- "No time to lose: New UNICEF data show need for urgent action on female genital mutilation and child marriage", UNICEF, 22 July 2014.
- "48/104. Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women", United Nations General Assembly, 20 December 1993.
- Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs, "Commemorating International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation", Population Reference Bureau, February 2009.
- UNICEF 2013, 15; Francesca Moneti, David Parker, The Dynamics of Social Change, Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, October 2010, 6.
- UNICEF 2005.
- UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Evaluation of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Accelerating Change, New York: United Nations Population Fund, 2013 (for goals not met: "Executive Summary", 2).
- WHO 2008, 8.
- "67/146. Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations", United Nations General Assembly, adopted 20 December 2012.
Emma Bonino, "Banning Female Genital Mutilation", The New York Times, 19 December 2012.
- Australia: "Review of Australia's Female Genital Mutilation Legal Framework", Attorney General's Department, Government of Australia.
New Zealand: "Section 204A – Female genital mutilation – Crimes Act 1961", New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office.
Europe: "Eliminating female genital mutilation", European Commission.
United States: "18 U.S. Code § 116 – Female genital mutilation", Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School.
Canada: Section 268, Criminal Code.
- Birgitta Essén, Sara Johnsdotter, "Female Genital Mutilation in the West: Traditional Circumcision versus Genital Cosmetic Surgery", Acta Obstetricia Gynecologica Scandinavica, 83(7), July 2004, 611–613. PMID 15225183
- Boyle 2002, 97.
- Clyde H. Farnsworth, "Canada Gives Somali Mother Refugee Status", The New York Times, 21 July 1994.
- Section 268, Criminal Code of Canada.
- For a source covering up to February 2015: Corinne Packer, et al., "Canada's response to female genital mutilation: Are we failing our girls?", Canadian Medical Association Journal, 187(6), 17 February 2015, E188–189. doi:10.1503/cmaj.141215 PMC 4387059
- "Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in the United States: Updated Estimates of Women and Girls at Risk, 2012", Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Reports, 131, March–April 2016.
- Julie Turkewitz, "Effects of Ancient Custom Present New Challenge to U.S. Doctors: Genital Cutting Cases Seen More as Immigration Rises", The New York Times, 6 February 2015.
- Wanda K. Jones, et al., "Female Genital Mutilation/Female Circumcision: Who Is at Risk in the U.S.?", Public Health Reports, 112(5), September-October 1997 (368–377), 372. PMID 9323387 PMC 1381943
- Patricia Dysart Rudloff, "In Re: Oluloro: Risk of female genital mutilation as 'extreme hardship' in immigration proceedings", 26 Saint Mary's Law Journal, 877, 1995.
- Celia W. Dugger, "June 9–15; Asylum From Mutilation",The New York Times, 16 June 1996.
"In re Fauziya KASINGA, file A73 476 695", U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review, decided 13 June 1996.
- "Female Genital Mutilation", Pediatrics, 102(1), 1 July 1998, 153–156. PMID 9651425
- Pam Belluck, "Group Backs Ritual 'Nick' as Female Circumcision Option", The New York Times, 6 May 2010.
Susan Bewley, Sarah Creighton and Comfort Momoh, "Female genital mutilation: Paediatricians should resist its medicalisation"], British Medical Journal, 340(7760), 19 June 2010, 1317–1318. JSTOR 20734534
- "Man gets 10-year sentence for circumcision of 2-year-old daughter", Associated Press, 1 November 2006.
- Nedra Pickler, "Obama To Rename Africa Young Leaders Program For Nelson Mandela", Huffington Post, 28 July 2014.
- Douglas Martin, "Efua Dorkenoo Dies at 65; Key Foe of Genital Cutting in Africa, Middle East", The New York Times, 27 October 2014. Efua Dorkenoo, Cutting the Rose: Female Genital Mutilation, the Practice and its Prevention, London: Minority Rights Group, 1994.
- Yoder 2013, 195.
- Renée Kool and Sohail Wahedi, "Criminal Enforcement in the Area of Female Genital Mutilation in France, England and the Netherlands: A Comparative Law Perspective", International Law Research, 3(1), 2014, 3–5. doi:10.5539/ilr.v3n1p1
- Colette Gallard, "Female genital mutilation in France", British Medical Journal, 310, 17 June 1995, 1592. PMID 7787655 PMC 2549952
That one girl was three months old, Megan Rowling "France reduces genital cutting with prevention, prosecutions – lawyer", Thomson Reuters Foundation, 27 September 2012.
- Jana Meredyth Talton, "Asylum for Genital-Mutilation Fugitives: Building a Precedent", Ms., 17.
- Megan Rowling "France reduces genital cutting with prevention, prosecutions – lawyer", Thomson Reuters Foundation, 27 September 2012.
- For 1982, Gallard 1995, 1593; for 1993, Farnsworth (New York Times) 1994.
- David Gollaher, Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery, New York: Basic Books, 2000, 189.
- Alison Macfarlane and Efua Dorkenoo, "Female Genital Mutilation in England and Wales", City University of London and Equality Now, 21 July 2014, 3.
- For an early article on FGM in the UK: J. A. Black, G. D. Debelle, "Female genital mutilation in Britain", British Medical Journal, 310, 17 June 1995. doi:10.1136/bmj.310.6994.1590 PMID 7787654 PMC 2549951
- Kool and Wahedi 2014, 5–7; "Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985", legislation.gov.uk.
- "Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003" and "Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005", legislation.gov.uk.
- "Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003", legislation.gov.uk, and "Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003" (legal guidance), Crown Prosecution Service: "The Act refers to 'girls', though it also applies to women."
- "Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 26 July 2013, 6, paras 36, 37.
- Sandra Laville, "Doctor found not guilty of FGM on patient at London hospital", The Guardian, 4 February 2015.
- Eric K. Silverman, "Anthropology and Circumcision," Annual Review of Anthropology, 33, 2004 (419–445), 420, 427. JSTOR 25064860
- Nnaemeka 2005, 34.
- Vicky Kirby, "Out of Africa: 'Our Bodies Ourselves?'" in Obioma Nnaemeka (ed.), Female Circumcision and the Politics of Knowledge: African Women in Imperialist Discourses, Westport: Praeger, 2005, 83.
- Obioma Nnaemeka, "African Women, Colonial Discourses, and Imperialist Interventions: Female Circumcision as Impetus," in Nnaemeka 2005, 33.
- Tamale 2011, 19–20.
- Christine J. Walley, "Searching for 'Voices': Feminism, Anthropology, and the Global Over Female Genital Operations" in James and Robertson 2002, 18, 34, and for false consciousness, 43; Robertson 2002, 60.
- Bagnol and Mariano 2011, 281.
- Chima Korieh, "'Other' Bodies: Western Feminism, Race and Representation in Female Circumcision Discourse," in Nnaemeka 2005, 121–122.
- Nnaemeka 2005, 38–39.
- Sara Johnsdotter and Birgitta Essén, "Genitals and ethnicity: the politics of genital modifications", Reproductive Health Matters, 18(35), 2010, 29–37. doi:10.1016/S0968-8080(10)35495-4 PMID 20541081
- Marge Berer, "It's female genital mutilation and should be prosecuted", British Medical Journal, 334(7608), 30 June 2007, 1335. doi:10.1136/bmj.39252.646042.3A PMID 17599983 PMC 1906631
- Ronán M. Conroy, "Female genital mutilation: whose problem, whose solution?", British Medical Journal, 333(7559), 15 July 2006. PMID 16840444 PMC 1502236
- El Guindi 2007, 33.
- Lora Wildenthal, The Language of Human Rights in West Germany, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012, 148.
- Obermeyer 1999, 94.
- Rahim (Tahrir Institute) 2014.
- WHO 2008, 28.
- Nussbaum 1999, 123–124.
- Nancy Ehrenreich, Mark Barr, "Intersex Surgery, Female Genital Cutting, and the Selective Condemnation of 'Cultural Practices'", Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 40(1), 2005 (71–140), 74–75.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Female genital mutilation.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Female genital mutilation|
- FORWARD, London.
- "Circumcision, female", The Kinsey Institute (bibliography 1960s–1980s).
- FGM archive, The Guardian.
- Khazan, Olga. "Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised", The Atlantic, 8 April 2015 (interview with Bettina Shell-Duncan).
- David M. Westley, "Female circumcision and infibulation in Africa", Electronic Journal of Africana Bibliography, 4, 1999 (bibliography up to 1997).
- Nawal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero, London: Zed Books, 1975.
- Waris Dirie and Cathleen Miller, Desert Flower, New York: William Morrow, 1998.
- Fauziya Kassindja and Layli Miller-Muro, Do They Hear You When You Cry, New York: Delacorte Press, 1998.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel: My Life, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.