Top 10 Countries which Practice Female Genital Mutilation

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Female Genital Mutilation was earlier known as female circumcision and is used to refer to procedures that “intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”, according to World Health Organization (WHO). Female Genital Mutilation has no known benefits which arises due to its practice and in fact, is very harmful to the health of the girls and women who go through it and leads to problems like infertility and infections. It also leads to a lot of complications in maternal health and also puts a higher risk on newborns whose mothers go through the procedure. Female Genital Mutilation consists of procedures which can be classified into four types: Type I consists of the removal (partial or complete) of the clitoral hood, and is rarely performed alone. It is usually done in conjunction with Type II which is the partial or complete removal of the clit. Type III, also called “infibulation” consists of the removal of all external genitalia and fusing of the wound, leaving a small hole for the passage of menstrual blood and urine. Type IV consists of all other procedures which are harmful to a woman’s genitals and are done for non medical reasons, such as nicking the clitoris, piercing, scraping the tissue from around the vagina, scarring and/or burning genitals, and even the removal of the hymen etc.

Here are the top ten countries which practice Female Genital Mutilation:

10. Chad

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Chad, which is officially known as the Republic of Chad is a country in Central Africa, surrounded by land on all sides of its borders. It is one of the countries in which the highly problematic practice of mutilating female genitals is carried out. The practice is prevalent in all parts of the country, but two types of Female Genital Mutilation are especially common in the area. The types are II and III, also known as excision and infibulation, although the practice of Type III of FGM is mostly carried out in the eastern parts of the country which borders Sudan. It has been estimated that sixty percent of the women in Chad have undergone FGM.

9. Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso, also known as Burkina and formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta is a small country with a small population with a little more than fifteen million. The most common form of Female Genital Mutilation in Burkina Faso is the Type II form and is practiced in the whole country with only a few exceptions. It has deep roots in the culture of the region and the practice is not restricted to a particular class or religion in the country. The practice is illegal in Burkina Faso. It originally had the intention of ensuring the fidelity of women. It is generally carried out without anaesthesia.

8. The Gambia

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The Gambia, also called as The Republic of Gambia is a country situated in West Africa and is the smallest country on Mainland Africa. All four types of Female Genital Mutilation is practised in the country, but with differing popularity. Type I and Type II are the most common forms of FGM which are practised. Type III and Type IV are practised only among a relatively smaller percentage of women. Type IV is also known as “vaginal sealing” in the country. People of all ethnicities, religions and cultures practice it in the country. The percentage of women who have undergone FGM are thought to be anywhere from 60 to 90 %.

7. Sudan

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Sudan is officially known as the Republic of Sudan and the majority of the population practice Islam. It used to be the largest country in Africa but is now the third largest country after South Sudan separated from it. Therefore, it is also called North Sudan. Female Genital Mutilation is very widespread in this country with infibulation being the most popular method being practised. Although religion is not a bar in the practice of FGM, Christians usually practice a less extensive method than Muslims. According to researchers, this practice is bound up with notions of decency, dignity and fertility and marriage and sexuality are the main reasons for the practice of FGM.

6. Djibouti

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Djibouti, also known as the Republic of Djibouti, is a multi ethnic nation and has a strategic location. The most prominent religion in the nation is that of Islam. The practice of FGM is widespread in the country and the most prominent types are Type I and Type II. The country also has a very high maternal death rate and a high infant mortality rate influenced by the unhealthy practices of FGM. It is estimated that 93 % of the women between the ages of 14 and 45 have gone through the procedures. Most people in the country regard the practice as perfectly reasonable.

5. Somalia

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Somalia, which is officially called the Federal Republic of Somalia, and it is situated in the “Horn of Africa”. A very high percentage of women, from 80 to 98 percent have gone through the procedure in Somalia according to various estimations. The main form of FGM which is practised is Type IV. It is linked to traditions in the area and various notions of purity, virginity and the control of the unwanted sexuality of women. Most women are subjected to the procedure when they are just children and between the ages of 6 to 8. Some even undergo FGM as infants.

4. Eritrea

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Eritrea, also known as the State of Eritrea, is also a country which is located in the Horn of Africa. It is also a multi ethnic country. The most common types of FGM in the country are Type I, Type II and Type III. However, among all of the women who have gone through Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting, one third of them are infibulated (Type III). There is no religious difference in the practice of FGM since both Muslims and Christians practice it in Eritrea. Most people who practice FGM believe it is required by their religion and grandmothers are one of the most important factors in the continuing of this tradition.

3. Mali

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Mali, officially called the Republic of Mali is situated in West Africa and is bordered by land on all sides. The most popular forms which are practised in the country are Type I and Type II. Type III, which is a more extreme form of FGM is mostly practised in the southern regions of the country. These procedures do not vary among women by age or religion or even the level of education. A study has also found that the vast majority of women (about three fourths of women between 15 and 49) are in the favour of this practice being continued.

2. Egypt

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Egypt, also known as the Arab Republic of Egypt is situated mostly in Northern Africa. It is also a transcontinental country. The most common forms of FGM which are practised in Egypt are Type I and Type II. These practices are widespread but are more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas. They are common among both Muslims and Coptic Christians – religion is not a barrier in the practice of FGM. Type III, or infibulation is found only among a few ethnic groups in the southern parts of the country. A study has found that FGM is almost universal among the women of reproductive age in Egypt and Type III is rare. It is also connected to notions of female chastity.

1. Guinea

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Guinea, which is also called the Republic of Guinea, is a country in West Africa and was formerly known as French Guinea. FGM is widely practiced in Guinea which includes Type I, Type II and Type III. Some are now starting to opt for Type IV, which involves a symbolic incision on the female genitals. FGM is practiced without ethnicity, religion or region being a factor in it. The only varying factor is the age at which a woman undergoes the procedure. According to a survey, 98.6 percent of women in Guinea have gone through at least one of the procedures.

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