Ending female genital cutting

Over the next decade, around 30 million girls under age 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). FMG/C includes different practices such as cutting, pricking, removing or sewing up external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Girls exposed to FGM/C may experience severe pain, bleeding and shock. Even many years later, they may experience chronic pain, infections and mental health issues. FGM/C is practiced for a variety of reasons, but many medical experts consider the practice harmful and a violation of human rights.

There are widespread efforts underway to end FGM/C. These efforts are slowly making progress, but change is not happening as rapidly as necessary. In a new review, Bixby researchers and partners examine the decades of work to end the practice and conclude that:

  • Single issue approaches are not effective. Given the diversity of communities that practice FGM/C, effective interventions must be specific to a community and respond to the concerns of both individuals and groups. Interventions need to take into account the many influences on FGM/C practice, including education, the economy, politics, law, religion and social norms. Successful efforts also strengthen women’s reproductive and sexual rights.
  • Low funding has hampered research. Historically low levels of funding for research about ending FGM/C means that we lack information about which interventions have had the most impact. Those working to end FGM/C are faced with a lack of evidence-based interventions and fragmented documentation of what has worked.

Effectively ending FGM/C will require focused efforts to evaluate what is working and share findings with all relevant groups, even in the context of limited funding for such evaluations. Girls at risk of FGM/C deserve no less.

Photo credit: Virginia Lamprecht, Courtesy of Photoshare