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Some Facts on Female Circumcision

Aug 20 (Reuters) - Egypt strengthened its ban on female genital cutting in June by eliminating a legal loophole allowing girls to undergo the procedure for health reasons.

A U.N women's forum urged the world to ban the procedure last March. However the practice remains widespread as a rite of passage for girls.

Here are some key details on female genital mutilation (FGM):

* WHAT IS FEMALE CIRCUMCISION:

-- FGM, often referred to as "female circumcision", comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs.

-- The practice involves cutting off all or part of the clitoris and other female genitalia, sometimes by a doctor but also often by a relative or midwives.

* SIDE EFFECTS:

-- The immediate and long-term health consequences of the process varies according to the type and severity of the procedure performed.

-- Immediate complications include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage, urine retention, ulceration of the genital region and injury to adjacent tissue. Haemorrhage and infection can cause death. There is also increased susceptibility to HIV/AIDS. -- It may leave a lasting mark on the life and mind of the woman who has undergone it. In the longer term, women may suffer feelings of incompleteness, anxiety and depression.

* WHY IS THE PROCEDURE CARRIED OUT:

-- In order to attenuate sexual desire in the female, maintain chastity and virginity before marriage and fidelity during marriage, and increase male sexual pleasure.

-- To conform with the social norm - those who don't conform are likely to be stigmatised.

-- To initiate girls into womanhood, social integration and the maintenance of social cohesion.

-- Some African Muslims believe that cutting is required by Islam and fulfils a religious obligation, however the practice predates both Islam and Christianity.

* WHO PERFORMS FGM:

-- Genital mutilation predominantly occurs in around 28 African countries, but it also takes place in some Middle Eastern nations, like Saudi Arabia, among immigrant communities in Europe and North America, and parts of Asia, including Indonesia. -- A 2005 UNICEF report said that 97 percent of Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 had been circumcised. UNICEF said Eritrea ranks amongst the worst in the world for FGM and a survey by its government in 2002 found less than 1 percent of circumcisions were performed by trained health professionals. Eritrea banned FGM last April. In Kenya, the government has estimated about a third of women suffered the procedure.

- FGM is practised throughout West Africa. In Guinea, Sierra Leone and Mali, at least 90 percent of women are cut. -- The number of girls and women who have been undergone female genital mutilation is estimated at between 100 and 140 million. It is estimated that each year, a further 2 million girls are at risk of undergoing circumcision.

SOURCE: Reuters

URL: Click here

DATE: 21/08/2007

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