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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 Mutilation (FGM). As a result, boys and men are taking action to protect girls from harmful practices.

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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 such as FGM. 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. 


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. 

Meet the community rising up against FGM

In Egypt, 91% of girls and women have been subjected to female genital mutilation despite it being illegal. In this series of photos, see why a small community is determined to end the practice and give girls control over their bodies.

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Where does FGM 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

What are the consequences of FGM?

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.

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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*Facts by United Nations.

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