What is Female Genital Mutilation and why should I care?


Sara Lahr

The cutting of the rose symbolizes the cutting of a women’s freedom of pleasure from FGM.

Content Warning: This article contains topics of child abuse, bodily mutilation and medical malpractice.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a terrifying process for little girls that involves being held down for up to two hours of cutting and sewing while conscious. This extremely painful process removes parts of women’s genitals that facilitate sexual pleasure.

The tools used to cut are often blunt — they can be sharp rocks, shards of glass, or even plastic. The use of nonmedical tools can create an excruciating procedure that can cause brutal outcomes for the girls involved.

Numerous people around the world undergo the procedure due to cleanliness and health benefits, community status, passage into womanhood, familial honor, or religious practices. One common reason that women undergo the procedure is that the cutting and removing of the clitoris removes much of a woman’s sexual pleasure, preserving their virginity.

Many women have shared their experiences with FGM on platforms like TikTok, gaining millions of likes. But the process — as grotesque as it is — is much more prevalent than it can first seem.

While such information raising awareness about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a process involving hours of cutting and sewing of the parts of women’s genitals that facilitate sexual pleasure has gone viral on social media, not very many people know about it — especially in America, where there has been little recognition of FGM.

The process has been labeled as unjust and inhumane by organizations such as the World Health Organization, National Health Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but it is still legal in over 30 countries, prominently in Africa and the Middle East and throughout Asia and Latin America. In addition, according to a 2016 CDC report, over 500,000 girls and women in the United States were victims of or at risk of FGM, despite it being illegal.

FGM consists of the cutting and sewing of the Labia Majora, Labia Minora, and Clitoritis. These procedures are usually held between the ages of 0-15 and often are done by traditional health practitioners, barbers, members of secret societies, herbalists, or relatives. These procedures are often performed in unsanitary conditions with no anesthesia involved and can cause multiple issues including UTIs, severe bleeding, infections, and cysts.