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90 Percent of Egyptian Women Undergo Female Genital Mutilation

Wed, July 11, 2012

The World Health Organization estimates that 97.3 percent of Egyptians women undergo the horrific and brutal practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Although the practice was made illegal in Egypt, FGM continues today, practically unabated, as reported in the (above) video produced by the BBC.

The most common form of FGM consists of cutting out the entire clitoris and labia minor. The more severe forms involves excision of all the external genitalia (the clitoris, labia minor and labia major) with stitching of the vaginal opening (infibulation), causing a permanent narrowing.

Sheikh Ashraf: FGM permitted by Islam" width="200" height="114" />FGM can also consist of cauterization clitoris by burning it and surrounding tissue; scraping and cutting the tissue surrounding the vaginal opening and cutting into the vagina itself; introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to cause bleeding or for the purposes of tightening or narrowing it.

FGM can take place during infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, as a part of marriage or even during the first pregnancy, however the most common time for FGM is between the ages of 5 and puberty.

Immediate side effects of the procedure include severe pain, bleeding and psychological trauma. More severe consequences include shock, hemorrhaging, tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue. Long-term consequences can include recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths, and the need for later surgeries.

A FGM procedure that seals or narrows the woman’s vaginal opening needs to be cut open later to allow for menstruation, sexual intercourse and childbirth. However, the procedure can be repeated several times by re-stitching the vaginal opening after childbirth, further increasing both immediate and long-term side effects.

It is estimated that hundreds of millions of women worldwide have undergone this procedure. FGM is mainly carried out by community women, however more than 18% of all FGM is performed by health care providers, a trend that is increasing.

FGM is rampant in African countries as well as Middle Eastern countries. In addition to the high statistics of FGM for Egyptian women, it is estimated that 95-98 percent of Somali women and 90 percent of Sudanese women undergo this procedure. FGM is also carried out illegally by immigrants in Western countries where the practice is banned.