GRAPHICThe World Health Organization estimates that between 100 and 140 million women worldwide have undergone FGM.

In Ireland has been estimated that a minimum of 3,780 women and girls living in the country have undergone FGM.

FGM is known to be widely practised in at least 28 African countries, and has been reported in some countries in the Middle East, Central and South America and Asia. But it is not isolated to this areas, the practice is increasing among migrant communities around the world, it is now a global issue.

In Europe as migration is an increasing trend, FGM has become an issue in several countries. The European Parliament estimates 500,000 girls and women living in Europe are suffering with the lifelong consequences of female genital mutilation and 180,000 are at risk every year.

For all health professionals looking for further information on FGM please see:
Information for Healthcare Professionals in Ireland [2nd Edition]

Types of FGM

There are four types of FGM depending on how much tissue is cut or removed. Type III FGM is the most extreme version and leaves the most risk during childbirth.  ALL types of FGM are a human rights violation and illegal in Ireland. Please see more details below;

Type I

Partialor total removal of theclitoris and/ortheprepuce. In medical literaturethisform of FGM/C isalsoreferred to as ‘clitoridectomy’. A number of practisingcommunitiesalsorefer to it as sunna, whichisArabicfor ‘tradition’ or ‘duty’.

Type II

Partialor total removal of theclitoris and labia minora, withorwithoutexcision of the labia majora. The 2007 WHO definitionrecognizesthatalthought
hisform of cuttingis more extensivethanType I, thereis considerable variability in theformordegree of cutting. In English, thistype of cuttingisoftenreferred to as ‘excision’, althoughitisimportant to note that in French theterm ‘excision’ generallyrefers to allforms of FGM/C.

Type III

Narrowing of the vaginal orifice by cutting and bringing together the labia minora and/or the labia majora to create a type of seal, with or without excision of the clitoris. In most instances, the cut edges of the labia are stitched together, which is referred to as ‘infibulation’. The adhesion of the labia results in near complete covering of the urethra and the vaginal orifice, which must be reopened for sexual intercourse and childbirth, a procedure known as ‘deinfibulation’. In some instances, this is followed by re-infibulation.

Type IV:

All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. Pricking or nicking involves cutting to draw blood, but no removal of tissue and no permanent alteration of the external genitalia. This is sometimes called ‘symbolic circumcision’, and some communities have described it as a traditional form of FGM/C. Although symbolic circumcision is still highly controversial, it has been proposed as an alternative to more severe forms of cutting in both African and other countries where FGM/C is performed.