Female genital mutilation, especially in its more extensive forms, is permanently scarring both physically and mentally. Its impacts are lifelong and often severe.
Sometimes FGM is fatal. Its victims do not always become ‘survivors’ in any sense of the word.
Some girls or women who undergo mutilation die in the immediate and short-term aftermath of the abuse, and later on more will die as a result of difficulties in childbirth or because of long-term conditions including fistula. Babies born to women with FGM are also at risk and sometimes die because of the obstetric complications it can cause.
The United Nations, the World Health Organization and many other international and professional bodies1 are unanimous in asserting there is no positive benefit to FGM. They insist unequivocally that it must never be promoted or conducted as a medical procedure – which happens for instance in Kenya, Indonesia, Egypt and Malaysia, and which routinely puts the lives and well-being of those who undergo it at risk.