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What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is when parts or all of the external female genitalia are removed or injured for no medical reason.

To make it easier to see the changes that happen when FGM occurs please see below an image of the natural external female genitalia with the different parts labelled and explained.
Natural External Genitalia

There are four types of FGM:

  • Type 1 is when the clitoris or the clitoral hood is cut off.
  • Type 2 is when the clitoris and inner lips are cut off.
  • Type 3 is when the clitoris, inner lips and outer lips are cut and sewn together or sealed, leaving only a small opening (infibulation).
  • Type 4 is all other harmful practices which could include pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping and burning of female genitalia.

FGM Types 1 + 2
FGM Types 3 + 4

Other names used for FGM

FGM is sometimes called Female Genital Cutting (FGC), Female Circumcision (FC), or excision. However, many communities also use local names to refer to this practice including ‘Tahor’ or ‘Sunna’ (both Arabic terms) and ‘Fanado’ (term used in Guinea Bissau).