Removal of the clitoris
Although primarily concentrated in 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it is also practised in some countries in Asia and Latin America. But what Bishara did not know was that it would leave her with irregular periods, bladder problems, and recurrent infections. She was only able to give birth via Caesarean section. Female genital mutilation, or FGM for short, is the deliberate cutting or removal of a female's external genitalia. It often involves the removal or cutting of the labia and clitoris, and the World Health Organization describes it as "any procedure that injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons".
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But for some girls, the message is that, to be accepted by the wider community, their bodies must be cut, altered and even reshaped through a practice known as female genital mutilation FGM. Often viewed as a rite of passage, FGM can result in serious health complications, including infections, chronic pain and infertility. It can even be deadly. Despite being internationally recognized as a human rights violation, some million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM, and if current rates persist, an estimated 68 million more will be cut between and
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The practice is found in some countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities abroad from countries in which FGM is common. Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, FGM is conducted from days after birth to puberty and beyond. In half of the countries for which national figures are available, most girls are cut before the age of five. They include removal of the clitoral hood type 1-a and clitoral glans 1-b ; removal of the inner labia ; and removal of the inner and outer labia and closure of the vulva. In this last procedure, known as infibulation , a small hole is left for the passage of urine and menstrual fluid ; the vagina is opened for intercourse and opened further for childbirth.
Annemarie Middelburg does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Her work as a gynaecological surgeon over the past 25 years has made her one of the leaders in this field — and also in restoring sexual function in clitorises. She is one of only a handful of surgeons who performs this surgery on women who have suffered female genital mutilation FGM or cutting.