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): partial or total removal of the external clitoris
- Type 2 (excision): partial or total removal of the external clitoris and the labia minora (inner lips)
- Type 3 (infibulation or “pharaonic circumcision”): Narrowing of the vaginal opening by cutting and sewing the labia minora and/or the labia majora. Sometimes, but not always, the clitoris is also cut.
- 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 four and eight years old. There are, however, also communities that perform female genital cutting during puberty or on adult women. In some cases, for instance, the vaginal opening of an adult woman is stitched closed again (reinfibulation) after she gives birth.
If you would like to find out in which parts of the world and the frequency of female genital cutting, you can find a map providing an overview here.
Please contact us if you have questions about female 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: