FGM is a human rights violation

Female genital mutilation (FGM), is one of the most extreme forms of violence against women and girls. There Is No Limit Foundation created the Break the Silence campaign series to mobilize people worldwide to speak up and take action to end harmful practices and violence against individuals. Female genital mutilation is the first campaign under this banner. We chose to focus on FGM because it is one of the greatest threats to the health, well-being, and economic prosperity of women and girls worldwide. 


What is FGM?


FGM, also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the partial or full cutting of a girl’s clitoris and labia, for non-medical reasons, nearly always on girls between infancy and 15 years old.


The practice is also closely linked to early/forced marriage because girls are often taken out of school after being cut and entered into marriage. 

FGM can have lasting physical, psychological, and social consequences for the rest of girls and women’ lives.


What is the scale of problem?



3 million are at risk of being cut each year.




200 million girls and women have been cut in 30       countries. 




Somalia, Guinea, and Egypt have the highest rates of FGM at over 90%.




513,000 women and girls in the United States are at risk for FGM/C or its consequences. 


Reasons for FGM


FGM is a practice that has occurred for thousands of years. It is deeply rooted in socio-economic and political norms. FGM is illegal in many countries, including the United States and Guinea. However, these laws are often not enforced. Many people in the countries with the high prevalence live in rural communities where formal legal structures are lacking. 


Many parents and extended family members consider FGM a part of upholding family honor and traditions. They believe it is a key part of a girl’s identity and a social obligation. Some boys are also raised to believe that marrying a cut women is best. As such many people hide their true feelings about FGM and think it is taboo to discuss the issue in public settings. 


FGM is not a religious practice. It is not affiliated with any one religion, it is practised among various religious groups, under the misconception that it is a requirement.


Refusing FGM 


Refusing FGM can have harsh consequences, including being rejected by one’s family and becoming an outcast. and in extreme cases such as certain areas in Uganda - being denied the right to speak in public. If a girl refuses, she will usually be forced to be cut anyway, or have to run away to survive. 


Effects of FGM


FGM has serious short and long term effects that negatively affect girls and women.


Immediate effects include:

  • shock

  • haemorrhage (bleeding)

  • infections

  • urine retention

  • open sores

  • injury to the nearby genital tissue

  • death


Long term effects include:

  • bladder and urinary tract infections

  • cysts

  • infertility

  • greater risk of complications when giving birth

  • higher risk of infant deaths during labor 

  • need for additional surgery in cases where vaginal opening was sealed or narrowed


FGM also has lasting psychological effects including depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).