At Least 200 Mn FGM Victims Suffer Life-Threatening Complications

At least 200 million women and girls across 30 countries have been subjected to FGM, according to a UN estimate.

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Video Editor: Sandeep Suman


Deep in the desert of Ethiopia's Afar region in Bekarredar village, life is difficult for women and many traditional practices have hardly changed for generations. One of these is female genital mutilation (FGM).

25-year-old Kedija is an FGM survivor, and her story is painful.

She had her genitals cut when she was just seven days old and was subjected to a practice known as infibulation, where the external genitalia are removed and the vagina is sewn up.

As a result, Kedija has been forced to cope with a lifetime of pain and sexual and renal problems. She is now determined to do whatever she can to stop another generation of girls suffering like she did.

It is hard to explain the problems female genital mutilation created in my life. The pain and suffering begins in childhood and gets worse as you get older...Three childbirths later I was diagnosed with near-fatal renal complications. I had to put an end to my sex life and eventually my marriage.
Kedija, FGM survivor

She got married at 14 and when she gave birth to a baby girl a year later, simple daily chores proved to be extremely painful.

Sadly, Kedija's story is not unusual.

At least 200 million women and girls across 30 countries have been subjected to some form of FGM, according to a UN estimate. While, 44 million of them are children at the age of 14 or below. The UN considers FGM a violation of Human Rights.

Another woman, Addu Abdala Dubba, used to be one of the women who performed circumcisions. She believed she was doing what was necessary to help women preserve their virginity and marital faithfulness – a necessary part of maintaining a family's honour.

Dubba is now one of those spreading the word in her community about the dangers of FGM. She believes she spent far too many years practicing FGM as a result of misinformation and misunderstanding.

In our culture we believed that girls who are not cut, especially with an uncut clitoris, will easily be sexually aroused. We believed the clitoris, if uncut, would swell until eventually it bursts. That was my justification for doing it. But after attending trainings, especially by religious leaders and government, I now understand this practice is wrong and it can destroy a child’s future. Therefore I stopped doing it completely right away.
Addu Abdala Dubba, Former circumciser

A lone primary hospital is trying to make a difference in the lives of these women who have complications following FGM, especially during childbirth.

Yusuf says it is a way for women and their families to gain respect in the village.

"We have given care for infibulated young women who face great difficulty in performing penetrative sex with their significant other. After receiving our pain free de-infibulation services, they go back home feeling happy. And following post treatment counselling, we hear most of them vow to not let a single woman they know endure female genital mutilation ever again," Yusuf says.

But Yusuf says there is still a long way to go in changing people's attitudes.


On 6 February, in Dublin a worldwide social media campaign was launched calling for an end to FGM with the support of the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement. Campaigners across the world observed the day as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.

African countries like Liberia and Somaliland (a self-declared state of Somalia) has recently banned the FGM practice.

(With inputs from AP)

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