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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): What You Need To Know

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): What You Need To Know

Female genital mutilation, also known as female genital cutting or FGM, is the practice of intentionally cutting or altering the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. In most societies where FGM happens, it is seen as a cultural tradition and is deeply rooted in inequality between the sexes.

Each year the United Nations observes February 6th as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.  Together, we can stop this human rights tragedy and support victims of FGM. Here’s what you need to know and what actions you can take to help stop it:

UNICEF estimates that at least 200 million women and girls are victims of FGM.

Despite FGM being classified as a human rights violation by the World Health Organization, it still happens to thousands of vulnerable women and girls every single day.

Globally, a woman or girl is violated by FGM every ten seconds.

This means approximately 8,500 women and girls are harmed by FGM daily.

Most girls undergo FGM between infancy and the age of 15.

FGM has existed for over 2,000 years and is performed on women days before their marriages, or on babies as young as a few days old.

The procedure has no health benefits for women and girls.

FGM can cause severe pain, infertility, infection, and prolonged bleeding. It can also cause complications during childbirth and increases the risk of newborn deaths. The practice of FGM can also cause behavioral changes in women and girls and lifelong psychological damage.

Complications are common and often lead to death.

Women that undergo the procedure are twice and likely to die during childbirth.

FGM is often used as a way to control girls.

Communities practice FGM for a range of cultural reasons. Since it is such a powerful social norm, many families have their daughters cut despite the risk of death and lifelong health complications.

The practice of FGM is a universal problem, found in all corners of the world.

The practice of FGM is primarily concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, but it’s an issue across the globe. In Egypt and Ethiopia, nearly half of the female population are survivors of FGM. More than half a million women and girls in the United States are at risk of undergoing or have undergone FGM.  (Source: United Nations)

How You Can Help

    1. Share this article on Facebook or Twitter to spread the word about the millions of women and girls at-risk of female genital mutilation.
    2. Support high-impact, grassroots nonprofit organizations on GlobalGiving that are working to end FGM, like the ones featured below.

 

Projects working to end FGM

 

No FGM in Tanzania
We support FGM survivor and activist Rhobi Samwelly and her local NGO Hope for Women and Children Tanzania in Mara. She works together with district and regional officials to protect girls from Female Genital Mutilation in Tanzania via supporting outreach work in villages and with schools, and offering safe spaces for girls refusing to be cut, particularly during cutting seasons. They also arrange community film screenings of the film featuring their work, In the Name of Your Daughter.
Establish Girls' Empowerment Centre in Rural Kenya
NIGEE is a Kenyan-based non-profit organization that helps school girls who dropped out due to teen pregnancy or child marriage. About 200 of these girls have completed high school and need vocational training to join the job market, and about 300 girls in school need a facility to convene during school holidays and be tutored on sciences and educated on reproductive health. The Girls' Empowerment Center will offer these services to 500 girls and host 50 victims of sexual violence.
Helping Abused Girls, Sierra Leone
We have built a shelter for young female victims of violence (gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, rape, etc). We provide the necessary medical and psychological treatment, legal aid, education, and basic needs (food, water, clothing, hygiene) to help these girls heal and return to their families and communities. We need additional funding to continue operating our shelter and providing prevention and intervention programs to address the source of the problems.
Protecting  Girls from Genital Mutilation in Kenya
Tareto Maa is a community based organization that aims to overcome the cruel traditions of female circumcision and child marriage within the Maasai community. We built a rescue center which currently shelters 122 girls who refused to be circumcised and to be married by force and who were cast out by their families. We take care of the costs for food, clothes, and education for these children. In addition, we run information campaigns on child rights and child health in the local community.
Rescue Maasai Girls from Female Genital Mutilation
Despite laws attempting to prevent it, Female Genital Mutilation remains a prevalent cultural practice among Maasai communities. Global Roots is helping to change this by providing positive incentives and reinforcement to communities which remain mutilation free. We do this using our Global Children's Garden food security program as foundation and then use that food security to reinforce mutilation free villages. We also partner with local organizations to sponsor girls who have fled FGM.
RESCUE 10,000 KENYAN GIRLS AT RISK OF HORRIFIC FGM
In Maasai community,young girls below age 10 years are subjected to horrific cultural practice of female genital mutilation/cutting, FGM/C, as rite of passage from childhood to womanhood. Thereafter, denied opportunity to go on with schooling and instead married off. The supposed women, at onset of puberty, begin to bear children and manage homes.Cherish Others has identified over 5000 girls at risk, some orphans, by making home visits, counsel and give support and educate community to stop FGM
Leadership Training for Girls in Maasai Kenya
In Maasai Kenya, 80% of girls continue to undergo female genital mutilation at puberty, after which they enter an arranged marriage and drop out of school. Information about their rights and health is unavailable or distorted, and these topics are considered taboo. Kakenya's Dream is educating and empowering girls to become their own advocates for their rights and health. At weekend and weeklong camps, girls learn life skills and receive vital health, rights, and sexual education.
Empower Maasai Girls in Kenya
This project will teach life skills to Maasai girls and boys, offer business training and seed grants to rural Maasai women, provide mentoring and leadership support to Maasai students, and engage parents to increase involvement of the whole community in our effort to end early marriage of girls, teen pregnancy, female genital mutilation, and the spread of HIV, all significant factors preventing girls from getting an education and contributing to poverty among the Maasai.
Crowdsourced Mapping to Prevent FGM in Tanzania
This is a volunteer run project to map rural Tanzania into Openstreetmap - an open source map available to everyone for navigation, planning, and monitoring of services. It will add every school, clinic, village, road and water point using a combination of satellite images, open government data and training locals on the ground with mobile apps. We are starting with the area where girls are at risk of FGM so that advocacy staff know where the villages are and so can reach the girls at risk.
End Female Genital Mutilation in 9 schools, Kenya
The purpose of this project is to empower girls in Kenya to refuse to be subjected to the practice of FGM. FGM is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. It is often performed without anesthesia or sufficient antiseptic conditions, with girls as young as five years old. An estimated 150 million women have undergone FGM - with 2 to 3 million new victims annually. HFAW will bring qualified personnel to 9 of the 63 schools to educate girls and their parents about FGM.
Transform the Lives of  Up to 600 Orphaned Girls
In Bungoma County, situated in the Western part of Kenya, 117,000 children aged 8-15 are orphans. That's 9% of the population that simply has no future. We intend to change that for 600 girls & young women, by encouraging both formal and informal education whilst empowering participants to avoid the risks of early pregnancies, early marriages and female genital mutilation. The goal is for them to commit to their education and become capable of investing in capital resources.
Support 2000 Kenya school girls with reusable pads
With your kind support, we will empower Karunga Women Self Help Group to sew reusable ecological sanitary pad kits and cotton shopping bags. The sanitary pads will be distributed to school girls in vulnerable indigenous communities for improved hygiene, school attendance, participation and self-confidence. Project will include environmental conservation education, waste management and recycling. Cotton shopping bags and other environmentally friendly products will be promoted among communities.
Shoot to Score for 500 Children in Northern Kenya
The project of Shoot To score in Marsabit, Kenya will be providing a safe space for 500 children to play and experience their childhood. They will learn life skills on tolerance; fair play, peaceful acts on and off the field imparted through Shoot to Score not to Kill Intervention. It will also help girls and women break the silence on FGM, Child Marriage & beading through football while providing safe space with a leadership awards support for education of the survivors. Shoot2Score
Caring for Both Vulnerable Girls and Boys of Kenya
In & around JWHS, a children's home in Kenya, we: *Provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, & loving support for victims of HIV/AIDS, neglected, & abandoned children *Provide safety from FGM/illegal practices violating human rights of pastoralist girls *Provide school uniforms, shoes, fees, tuition, textbooks, school supplies, & school lunches to enable low-income children to attend school *Provide continuing, formal, and vocational education to empower vulnerable children
Improving Adolescent Girls Access to SRHR
GPI's weekly safe space lessons provide an opportunity for hundreds of 10-18 year old Nigerian girls to become empowered with factual information on gender, life management skills, adolescent sexuality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Girls graduating from the three year program use the information gained to carry out social work interventions in rural communities on issues of early marriage, teenage pregnancies and FGM which have led to a reduction in these practices.
Reducing the practice of Female Genital Mutilation
The main objective of the project is to reduce the practice of FGM in the targeted areas through applying massive, integrated and inclusive community mobilization project. The target is all groups in population but specific targeting applies to mothers, Traditional Birth Attendants (who are also FGM practitioners) and the youth. This is because of the findings we have from past research conducted as mothers need more priority in awareness creation that other community groups in relative terms.
She-Advance: Girls Mentorship Center
She-Advance program will improve girls effective participation in decision making and leadership at school, household and community through a blended approach comprised of holiday centers where 100 girls are engaged in off school scheduled girl mentorships with motivational speeches and dialogue; Girls are encouraged to volunteer at community events and learn about the importance of giving back to the community.
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