What is FGM?

FGM is the painful and unnecessary ritual removal of some or all of the external and internal parts of a vagina. There are three main types of FGM and they are all considerably unnerving. Type 1, known as clitoridectomy, involves removing part of the clitoris. Type 2 is excision and sees to it that all of the victim's clitoris and the inner labia are removed- the outer labia is sometimes also removed. But wait, it gets worse. In type 3, the opening of the vagina is narrowed through cutting and repositioning the labia; this is referred to as infibulation.

Following this excruciating procedure the remaining and freshly cut vagina is sewed and only an inconceivably small hole is left.

The complete savagery of the vaginal lips and the clitoris is traditionally performed using pieces of glass, knives, scissors or a razor blade with no anaesthetic. Religious (typically Islam), social, and political reasons are sometimes given as a justification for the act. No matter what reasons are given, FGM is child abuse as there are no actual medical justifications for such an invasive and extreme procedure.

Who is affected by it?

FGM is often performed on young girls who do not even understand why they are made to experience such a thing. The belief is that it will stop the girls from having sexual desires and will guarantee a virginal bride- because apparently, that is the key to a successful marriage, right?.

I find it so scary to think that not too far in our world, innocent young girls are being pinned down and forced to undergo such an unnecessary bodily modification. The thought of knowing that so many girls have their still developing anatomy prodded, cut and sewn quite literally leaves me speechless, as I am sure it would many people.

It is honestly difficult for me to even fathom that FGM is sometimes described as the female equivalence of the male circumcision. This could not be further from the truth. The reason why is in the name- mutilation, kind of gives it away. To call it 'the female circumcision', in my opinion, is just wrong. Doing so removes the brutality of it and makes it appear medically just when the reality of this practice is difficult to swallow.

According to the NHS website, the side effects are not only physical but also psychological as many victims face problems with pregnancy and puberty. Victims are sometimes left so traumatised that mental heath problems develop.

The facts and stats

According to the Unicef FGM 2016 report, "at least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries have been subjected to the practice". More than half of the victims can be found in 3 countries: Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia. Sadly, 44 million of these girls are under the age of 15. The highest number of FGM victims can be found in Somalia however, where 98% of females aged between 14 to 49 have undergone the procedure. However, the exact number of FGM victims worldwide remains unknown.

FGM not only occurs in African and Asian countries as according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre 5,700 new cases of FGM were recorded in England from April 2015 to March 2016 alone.

Imagine, if you would, being surrounded by a sea of faces- both alien and familiar- screaming and shouting for help but to no avail because it is perceived as a social expectation.