Archives Blog Original research

[Study of a custom in Somalia: the circumcision of girls

Med Trop (Mars). 1995;55(3):238-42.

[Study of a custom in Somalia: the circumcision of girls].  [Article in French] 

Bayoudh F, Barrak S, Ben Fredj N, Allani R, Hamdi M.

Service de Pédiatric, l’Hôpital Principal d’Instruction des Armées Tunisiennes, Tunis, Tunisie.

Female circumcision and infibulation is a common practice in parts of Africa. The present report describes the results of a study conducted in Somalia during Operation “Restore Hope”. Using pre-defined questionnaire, a total of 300 women and 70 men were interviewed in order to evaluate the prevalence of this practice  in Somalia, the procedures used, and the psychologic implications for the population. Fully 100% of the women interviewed had been circumcized and 80% had  undergone infibulation. In most cases the procedure had been performed before the age of 10 years. Infection, hemorrhage and double episiotomy were reported by 60%, 20%, and 10% of responders respectively. All but 10 responders expressed support for the practice and many had already had the procedure performed in their children. The findings of this study demonstrate that the practice remains  widespread in Somalia where a large proportion of the population is favorable despite the fearful childhood memories of many women.

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Archives Blog Original research

Combating female genital mutilation: an agenda for the next decade.

World Health Stat Q. 1996;49(2):142-7.

Combating female genital mutilation: an agenda for the next decade. 

Dorkenoo E.

Family and Reproductive Health Programme, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)-sometimes locally referred to as “female circumcision”-is a deeply rooted traditional practice that adversely affects the  health of girls and women. At present it is estimated that over 120 million girls and women have undergone some form of genital mutilation and that 2 million girls per year are at risk. Most of the girls and women affected live in 28 African countries where the prevalence of female genital mutilation is estimated to range from 5% to 98%. The elimination of female genital mutilation will not only improve women’s and children’s health; it will also promote gender equity and women’s empowerment in the communities where the practice persists. To achieve change will require more planning, and more sustained programmes for its elimination. The political will of governments is essential in order to eliminate this harmful traditional practice and concerted efforts from all concerned are required.  PIP: It is estimated that more than 120 million females have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) and that 2 million more girls are at risk of mutilation  each year. In response to this enormous health problem, the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a Technical Working Group Meeting on the subject in July 1995. The working group defined FGM as “the removal of part or all of the external female genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs for cultural or other nontherapeutic reasons.” The working group also provided four classifications for different types of FGM. FGM is usually performed by traditional practitioners (the WHO is opposed to the medicalization of this procedure) on girls and young women of any age (but the average age is decreasing). The origins of FGM are unknown, and a variety of reasons are forwarded in its defense. The health complications are known, however, and include the immediate complications of hemorrhage, severe pain, fractured bones,  possible HIV transmission, and shock; longterm complications such as keloid scar  formation, painful intercourse, chronic infection, and problems in pregnancy and  childbirth; and psychological problems associated with sexual dysfunction caused  by painful intercourse, the loss of trust in care-givers, and depression. Human rights instruments exist that oblige states to eliminate such harmful procedures, but gaps exist in information about types and prevalence of FGM. Because FGM involves human rights and health issues, a multidisciplinary approach will be necessary for its eradication. An action agenda calls for adoption of clear national policies, establishment of interagency coalitions, research, community outreach, and training of health workers.

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Archives Blog Original research

Health consequences of female genital mutilation/cutting in the Gambia, evidence into action.

Reprod Health. 2011 Oct 3;8:26.

Health consequences of female genital mutilation/cutting in the Gambia, evidence into action.

Kaplan A, Hechavarría S, Martín M, Bonhoure I.

Cátedra de Transferencia del Conocimiento/Parc de Recerca UAB-Santander, Departamento de Antropología Social y Cultural, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.



Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is a harmful traditional practice with severe health complications, deeply rooted in many Sub-Saharan African countries. In The Gambia, the prevalence of FGM/C is 78.3% in women aged between 15 and 49 years. The objective of this study is to perform a first evaluation of the magnitude of the health consequences of FGM/C in The Gambia.


Data were collected on types of FGM/C and health consequences of each type of FGM/C from 871 female patients who consulted for any problem requiring a medical gynaecologic examination and who had undergone FGM/C in The Gambia.


The prevalence of patients with different types of FGM/C were: type I, 66.2%; type II, 26.3%; and type III, 7.5%. Complications due to FGM/C were found in 299 of the 871 patients (34.3%). Even type I, the form of FGM/C of least anatomical extent, presented complications in 1 of 5 girls and women examined.


This study shows that FGM/C is still practiced in all the six regions of The Gambia, the most common form being type I, followed by type II. All forms of FGM/C, including type I, produce significantly high percentages of complications, especially infections.

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