FGM involves the cutting and/or removal of the clitoris and other vaginal tissue, often under unsanitary conditions. It is practised in at least 28 countries globally. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that up to 140 million girls and women around the world have undergone some form of FGM.
It is practised extensively in Africa, and also in parts of the Middle East and among immigrant communities around the world. According to medical experts, it causes physical and psychological complications, as well as heightening the risk of HIV/AIDS, especially when dirty instruments are used.
Human rights activists have put pressure on governments to legislate against FGM. At least 16 African countries have banned the practice, and the Maputo Protocol, an African regional document that prohibits and condemns FGM, came into force in November 2005.
SOURCE: IRIN News