Sexual and reproductive health

New WHO guidelines to improve care for millions living with female genital mutilation

16 May 2016 - Health-care providers across the world need to be prepared to provide care to girls and women who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). New guidelines have been launched by WHO to help health-care providers give better care to the more than 200 million girls and women worldwide who live with FGM.

It’s our job as health workers to ‘do no harm’

16 May 2016 - Health workers often face difficult decisions and tough situations. Without the right information and support it can be hard to know what’s the right thing to do. A health-care worker might even be asked – by the patients themselves, or by their family – to perform a procedure which violates human rights and the rights of the child. This is the case when health workers are asked to perform female genital mutilation (FGM), which we refer to as “medicalization” of the practice.

Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation

Mother and father with their young daughthers in front of their home in a village of Sierra Leone.
UNICEF/Asselin

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. The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. In many settings, health care providers perform FGM in the erroneous belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized. WHO and other UN partners strongly urge health professionals not to perform such procedures.

WHO joins the world in marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

Women in Egypt hold up their hands in the 'peace' sign, during a session on the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation.
UNICEF/Pirozzi
Women in Egypt hold up their hands in the 'peace' sign, during a session on the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation.

6 Feb 2016: WHO joins organizations and people worldwide to mark this year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and to stand in solidarity against this practice.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

fact buffet

PrevalenceIt is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation.

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Health risksFGM has no health benefits and is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Fact sheet on FGM

End FGMIncreasingly health-care providers are asked to perform FGM. WHO is strongly opposed to the medicalization of FGM.

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