Female Genital Mutilation FGM | Plan International Skip to main content
Female genital mutilation or FGM is a harmful tradition that stems from a perceived need to control female sexuality

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)


At least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone a form of female genital mutilation (FGM). If current trends continue, 15 million additional girls between ages 15 and 19 will be subjected to it by 2030.

We must work together to end FGM.

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, excision or genital cutting, comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injuries to the genital organs for non-medical reasons, mostly carried out between infancy and age 15.

The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women. Because it is usually performed without permission and often against will, it violates girls’ right to make important decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

Boys and men speak out 

Plan International Ethiopia is working alongside communities to end female genital cutting. As a result, boys and men are taking action to protect girls from harmful practices.

Learn more


Plan International works with parents, community leaders, government authorities and children and young people to raise awareness, transform behaviour and put an end to harmful traditional practices. We are striving to end excision so girls can make decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health and well-being.

A key element to our approach is to give young people a voice in this process, to involve them – particularly girls – and to empower them to claim their rights to a safer, more fulfilling life. 

"FGM will not divide us anymore."

Despite being a deeply embedded cultural tradition, times are changing. Girls are learning increasingly more about the law, their rights and their bodies. 

Girls and their communitied are boldly speaking out, spreading awareness of the harmful consequences and encouraging new, updated rituals.

meet generation change


Gender inequality and discriminatory social, cultural and religious norms are factors in why this harmful practice takes place. These include the idea that it preserves chastity, cleanliness, family honour and saves a girl for marriage. These beliefs stem from a perceived need to control female sexuality. 

This issue requires sensitive handling if we are to persuade families, communities and religious leaders that FGM is not a necessary part of a girl’s coming of age ritual and, ultimately, that it will no longer be accepted or tolerated. 

It takes a village to end FGM: forming new rituals

Rural communities in Guinea are creating new rituals that bring together the whole community with the aim of abolishing female genital mutilation for good.

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Where does it happen?

Although primarily concentrated in 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East, female genital cutting is a universal problem and is also practised in some countries in Asia and Latin America. The practice continues to persist amongst immigrant populations living in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. 

FGM map

FGM map

Kenyan elders call for an end to FGM

A series of photos shows how leaders of Kenyan communities are campaigning to bring an end to FGM in Africa within a generation.

Read the story

What are the consequences?

Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn and maternal deaths.

The lasting psychological effects on victims can be traumatic, often leading to long-term mental health issues and sexual dysfunction.

*Facts by United Nations.

**Map data from UNICEF. Plan International is not responsible for the content of external sites.