What is Female Genital Cutting?
The region and the community a girl lives in determines which of the various forms of female genital cutting she undergoes. Female genital cutting is classified into the following four types:
- Type I (incision or sunna): partial or total removal of the clitoris
- Type 2 (excision): partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (inner lips)
- Type 3 (infibulation or “pharaonic circumcision”): Excision of the clitoris and the labia minora. The labia majora (outer lips) are stitched together, leaving only a small opening.
- Type 4: All other practices that involve injury to the female genitalia. For example, pricking or piercing of the inner and outer genitalia.
The age at which female genital cutting is performed on girls varies a great deal. In some communities, girls are cut during the first months of their lives. In other communities the cutting is performed when girls are between the ages of 4 and 8. There are also communities in which female genital cutting is performed during puberty or on adult women though. In some cases, for instance, the vaginal opening of an adult women is stitched closed again (reinfibulation) after she gives birth.
If you would like to find out in which of the world’s regions and how often female genital cutting is practised, you can find a map providing an overview here.
Please contact us if you have questions about genital cutting or if you need help: Free information and advice.
What happens when a girl or woman undergoes female genital cutting? Dr. Kuhn, a gynaecologist from Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, explains the procedure: