What is Female Genital Mutilation?

FGM is sometimes referred to as Female Circumcision or Female Genital Cutting, is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the range of procedures which involve ‘the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reason’.

The Pan Sussex Child Protection & Safeguarding Procedures use a similar definition of FGM, which is used as the collective term for procedures which include the removal of part or all of the external female genitalia for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons

The WHO classifies FGM into four types:

  • Type 1, Clitoridectomy: Partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, rarely, the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris) as well
  • Type 2, Excision: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are ‘the lips’ that surround the vagina)
  • Type 3, Infibulation: Narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner and sometimes outer labia, with or without removal of the clitoris
  • Type 4, Other: All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterising the genital area. Type 4 is noted by professionals to be common among [FGM] practising communities, however, it is also the type that often goes unnoticed and therefore not recorded.
Related subjects: