Female Genital Mutilation:
A violation of rights with no medical justification

According to the World Health Organization, Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a traditional harmful practice that involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons. 

The practice is recognized internationally as a violation of human rights of girls and women and as an extreme form of gender discrimination, reflecting deep-rooted inequality between the sexes. As it is practiced on young girls without consent, it is a violation of the rights of children. FGM also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated. In addition, every year, an estimated 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation, the majority of whom are cut before they turn 15 years old.  

FGM has no health benefits. It can lead to not only immediate health risks but also to long-term complications to women’s physical, mental and sexual health and well-being.   

As part of the Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has set a target to abandon the practice of female genital mutilation by the year 2030. 

While girls today are a third less likely to be subjected to the practice compared to 30 years ago, UNICEF said action must now be accelerated ten times faster due to the pandemic and other overlapping crises such as rising poverty, inequality and conflict. 

Experts agree effectively eliminating the practice requires a comprehensive, rights-based strategy focused on reducing gender discrimination, improving social justice and supporting human rights, community development, and empowerment and literacy among women and girls.