Female Genital Mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM), is one of the most extreme forms of violence against girls. ActionAid is working in nine African countries to end this painful and traumatic practice. We help communities — men and women — say no to FGM and provide safe spaces for girls who are at risk.
What is FGM?
Female genital mutilation (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 age 15.
The mutilation can cause severe bleeding, infection, infertility and even death. Afterwards, girls are often taken out of school and forced into early marriage. FGM can have devastating physical, psychological, and social consequences for the rest of girls’ lives. Today,
- 3 million girls in Africaare at risk of being mutilated every year.
- Up to 200 million girls worldwide have been subjected to FGM — more than triple the UK population.
- Somalilandhas one of the highest rates of FGM, where 98% of 15-19 year old girls have been cut.
Can FGM be stopped?
ActionAid believes that bringing an end to female genital mutilation requires changes in attitudes and behavior at all levels of society.
We provide direct support to women and girls who have escaped mutilation, through our rescue centres, safe houses and girls’ clubs.
To bring about change we talk openly about the damaging impacts of FGM with women, men, boys and girls, as well as influential members of the community, such as traditional elders and religious leaders. We work closely with each of these groups and offer them training in the specific skills they need to speak out and influence others, so that eventually whole communities say no to FGM.
ActionAid effort against FGM
The Case of ActionAid Women’s Watch groups
In Ethiopia, we’ve trained over 1,000 women to form Women’s Watch Groups, and helped them understand how FGM is harmful to women, and the laws that are there to protect them. As a result, more than 42,000 people living in 12 communities have stopped practicing FGM, and more and more girls are refusing it.
Meko Aman, 19, in Seru, was the first female to be married without having undergone FGM. Watch groups have been convincing parents against the practice, and those that are defiant are reported to the police. Meko’s mother is a member of the watch group.
Meko says: “Although we are taught about the ill effects of female genital mutilation, many girls still undergo it, as it had been difficult to convince parents. Now, anyone can report to the Women’s Watch Group. The Women’s Watch Group members try to convince parents against the practice and take individuals who persist to court.”
To support other long-term projects like the Women’s Watch groups