3 million girls at risk of FGM every year

Today, an estimated 200 million women and girls have undergone some form of female genital mutilation (FGM) or cutting. The average age for girls to undergo FGM is between 7 and 10 years old.

Adverse effects of FGM include painful intercourse, menstrual blockage, urinary blockage and infection, wound infection, septicaemia and even death. In fact, women who have undergone FGM are twice as likely to die during childbirth and are more likely to give birth to a stillborn baby than those who haven’t.

Despite being a violation of girls’ rights and prohibited by international law, FGM continues to be practised in many countries because gender inequality and discriminatory social, cultural and religious beliefs uphold the idea that FGM preserves chastity, cleanliness and family honour.

FGM is also linked to social norms about beauty and femininity. These beliefs are rooted in a perceived need to control female sexuality.

Standing together to protect girls

Plan International Australia is on the front line in the fight to eradicate this painful, harmful and antiquated practice, working together with communities and leaders to provide education and empower girls.

With the support of grandparents, mothers, fathers and religious leaders, Plan International is spreading awareness about the dangers of FGM.

A central part of these efforts is focused on engaging traditional cutters to put down their knives and advocate for change.

Ending FGM: why this traditional cutter threw away her knife

For 45 years, Nantenin was the female genital cutter and the traditional birth attendant in her community.

“I saw all the girls here and I cut them all. Once adults, they came to my home to give birth.”

Nantenin said that when Plan International began having community discussions about FGM in 2007, nobody wanted to listen.

“The complications they talked about, I knew of them, but no one thought they were connected to cutting. Then they realised that what Plan was saying was true. Me too. So, I stopped. It was very hard for me, who helped deliver all these girls and women, to understand that I had done them so much harm by cutting them.”

Creating a new tradition of hope for girls

Plan International works with parents, community leaders, government authorities, children and young people to raise awareness, challenge lawmakers, help transform behaviour and put an end to harmful traditional practices like FGM that violate girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights.

A key aspect of Plan’s work centres on promoting gender equality as many harmful traditional practices, such as FGM, are often rooted in gender inequality.

Plan’s approach emphasises youth engagement and creates spaces for young people, and especially girls, to raise their voices and involve their communities and governments in defending and upholding their rights.

Working together to end FGM

FGM is a form of gender-based violence and a violation of women’s and girls’ human rights. But despite this, FGM is still widely accepted and practised around the world.

Plan International has the power to put an end to FGM around the world.

By taking the ItAllCounts survey, you join the movement to help transform behaviour and put an end to this harmful practice.

All content supplied by Plan International Australia.