Sexual and reproductive health

WHO commits to stand against female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM)

22 July 2014 – WHO participated in the first Girl Summit in London. Organized by the UK Government, and co-hosted by UNICEF, the summit aimed to mobilize domestic and international efforts to end FGM and child, early and forced marriage within a generation. The summit invited dialogue and commitments from partner agencies, the private sector, religious organizations, civil society, and governments around the world.

What works and what does not: approaches for the abandonment of female genital mutilation

Photo showing small girls who have undergone FGM, they will remain in seclusion until their wounds heal.
UNICEF/Getachew
Three days after undergoing FGM, these girls will remain in seclusion until their wounds heal.

The prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is reducing in many countries where it is practiced but the degree of change varies between countries and communities. Various interventions have been tried but the reduction in prevalence remains slow. This raises questions about their efficacy and the need to channel the limited resources where they can make the most difference. This paper is intended to contribute to the design of more effective interventions by assessing existing knowledge of what works and what does not.

About FGM

A five-year-old girl at home, near Kassala. Sudan, whose her mother chose not to have FGM performed on her.
UNICEF/Kate Holt
A five-year-old girl at home, near Kassala. Sudan, whose her mother chose not to have FGM performed on her.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
The practice of FGM has no health benefits, causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences. It is mostly carried out by traditional providers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths.

Research and evidence on FGM

A pregnant woman talks to a community health worker outside her home, Ethiopia. She was subjected to FGM, as was her seven-year-old daughter.
UNICEF/Kate Holt
A pregnant woman talks to a community health worker outside her home, Amibara District, Ethiopia. She was subjected to FGM, as was her seven-year-old daughter.

WHO's research seeks to generate knowledge about the causes and consequences of FGM, how to eliminate it, and how to care for those who have experienced FGM. Summaries of other research in the following areas are also provided along with full texts where available.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Video

Reply to American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on "Ritual genital cutting of female minors"


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