Female Genital Mutilation
What is FGM?
FGM is short for Female Genital Mutilation. The private parts are either partly or entirely removed in order to inhibit sexual desires and feelings. Majority of the time the mutilation is performed before reaching puberty on children aged between 4 and 8 years old. However more recently we have seen cases of mutilation of girls only a couple of weeks or months old.
Who performs FGM?
This is usually done by a respected member of society, usually a woman who has been a practitioner for some time such as traditional midwives but also local healers as well as nurses and doctors trained in western medicine. Often done without anaesthetic the mutilation is done under dreadful and unhygienic circumstances.
Where does FGM happen?
Primarily in Africa, in the North, East and Western areas of the continent. At present there are 29 countries globally where FGM is still legal. According to estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) 200 million women are affected by FGM worldwide. In Europe alone, up to 1 million women and girls are victims of FGM malpractice.
How many forms of FGM exist?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirms there are four different types of Female Genital Mutilation:
- Type 1 – clitoridectomy – removing part or all of the clitoris.
- Type 2 – excision – removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (larger outer lips).
- Type 3 – infibulation – narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia.
- Type 4 – Other harmful procedures to the female genitals, which include pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping and burning the area.
Consequences of FGM
The New Step for the African Community (NESTAC) list the following short and long term, common effects of the various types of FGM.
· Severe pain and shock
· Recurrent urinary tract infection
· Difficulty passing urine
· Difficulties with menstruation
· Urinary retention
· Infertility / Vulval abscess / Cyst
· Fistula / Keloid scarring / Pelvic infection
· Difficulties during childbirth
· Sexual, psychological and psychosexual disturbances
FGM is a form of domestic abuse that has strong links to cultural traditions but is not associated with any religion or faith. It is most commonly associated with African communities but prevalence varies widely across different parts of Africa and practices can be specific to a single tribe.
Affected women worldwide according to World Health Organization (WHO)
FGM in England and Wales
A recent report indicated Greater Manchester as being a major hotspot for FGM in England, specifically within the female asylum seeker population, as approximately 16% of this group are relocated in this region (GMCA, 2019).
Read the most recent report here
NESTAC'S SOS MODEL (2015 - PRESENT)
The primary focus of the SOS Model is to support women, young girls and families who are either at risk of, or affected by FGM. There are numerous strands by which this has, and continues to be achieved following the three-year pilot.
Since 2015, at the end of the pilot project, six FGM projects have been initiated by NESTAC in response to clients’ needs. All six projects are inter-related, have been ongoing since 2015, and constitute the SOS Model. These six projects are:
(1) The SOS Clinic (adult service);
(2) The Guardian Project (children and young girls’ service);
(3) Wellbeing Peer Mentoring Project;
(4) Aspire, Inspire Project – FGM Community Engagement Initiatives through Health Advocacy;
(5) Youth Peer Mentoring Project;
(6) FGM Education.
With the exception of the first two projects which are led by mental health specialists, the remaining four projects aim to feed into the SOS Clinic and the Guardian Project. The overall aim of the four latter projects is to educate professionals and to engage and empower members from FGM communities who want to play a role in the eradication of FGM. An overview of the six projects constituting the SOS Model can be seen below.