Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is defined by the World Health Organisation as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons.”

The World Health Organisation has classified FGM into four different types:

Type I – Clitoridectomy

Partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and/or the prepuce (the clitoral hood or fold of skin surrounding the clit

Type II – Excision

Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the inner labia, with out without the excision on the outer labia

Type III – Infibulation

Narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner or outer labia, with or without the removal of the clitoris.

Type IV – Other

All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g., pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterising (burning) the genital area.

The World Health Organisation estimates that over 200 million women and girls have been subjected to FGM in 30 countries. In the UK around 137,000 women have undergone FGM, with some 60,000 under fifteens at risk.

Other forms of FMG

Not all mutilation is vaginal. Other forms of FGM include breast ironing (flattening) and virginity testing and hymenoplasty

Breast ironing

Breast ironing/flattening/stretching is the process during which a young pubescent girls’ breasts are ironed, massaged, flattened and/or pounded down over a period of time (sometimes years) in order for the breasts to disappear or delay the development of the breasts entirely.

For more information about breast ironing visit the National FGM centre

Virginity testing

Virginity testing is an inspection of a girl’s or woman’s genitalia meant to determine whether she has had vaginal intercourse. It is a violation of human rights and an abusive, misogynistic practice akin to sexual abuse with immediate and long-term consequences that are detrimental to physical, psychological and social well-being.


Hymenoplasty, also known as Hymen Repair or Re-virginisation, is a form of vaginal surgery, carried out to give the impression that the girl or woman is a virgin.

For more information about virginity testing and hymenoplasty visit IKWRO Women’s Rights Organisation