FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): A Comprehensive Review

Introduction
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a harmful traditional practice that is widely practiced in some African and Middle Eastern countries, as well as in some parts of Asia and South America. FGM is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (WHO, 2018). According to the WHO, FGM can be classified into four major types: type I, which involves partial or total removal of the clitoris; type II, which involves partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; type III, which involves partial or total removal of the external genitalia and stitching or narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation); and type IV, which includes all other procedures that involve cutting, piercing, or scraping of the genitalia (WHO, 2018).

Epidemiology
The prevalence of FGM is difficult to estimate due to its clandestine nature and social acceptance in certain cultures. However, according to the WHO, the practice is common in more than 28 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (WHO, 2018). It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM worldwide, and that at least 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing the procedure each year (WHO, 2018).

Risk Factors
Several risk factors have been identified that make a woman more likely to undergo FGM. These include age, culture, religion, and socio-economic status. According to the WHO, women of lower socio-economic status and those living in rural areas are more likely to be affected by the practice (WHO, 2018). It is also important to note that FGM is practiced across religions, including Islam, Christianity, and Judaism (WHO, 2018).

Complications
FGM is associated with a number of short-term and long-term complications. Short-term complications include pain, shock, hemorrhage, infections, and injury to the surrounding tissues (WHO, 2018). Long-term complications include infertility, cysts, abscesses, and chronic pain (WHO, 2018). In addition, FGM can lead to psychological problems such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and low self-esteem (WHO, 2018).

Prevention and Treatment
The WHO recommends a “holistic approach” to the prevention and treatment of FGM (WHO, 2018). This approach involves the involvement of multiple stakeholders, including health care workers, law enforcement, religious and community leaders, and government officials. The WHO also recommends the use of “health education and community mobilization” to raise awareness about the risks of FGM, as well as “legal and policy interventions” to prohibit the practice (WHO, 2018).

Conclusion
FGM is a harmful traditional practice that is practiced in many parts of the world and is associated with a number of short-term and long-term complications. It is important to note that FGM can be prevented and treated through a holistic approach that involves multiple stakeholders.

References
World Health Organization. (2018). Female genital mutilation. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

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