About female genital cutting

Female genital cutting is known to happen in 28 African countries as well as some countries in Asia and the Middle East. It is also an issue in countries with large diaspora populations in Europe, North America and Australasia.

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Where does FGC happen?

Female genital cutting has been documented in 28 African countries and in countries in the Middle East such as Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, Brunei and areas of Iraq and Iran.

FGC is also known to take place parts of Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.  There is further anecdotal evidence for FGC taking place in a number of other countries where data has not yet been collected. In Africa there is limited evidence of FGC taking place in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

FGC has also been reported in Singapore, the Maldives and the Philippines, while a type of FGC known as ’introcision’ was reported among the Embera-Chami tribe in Colombia, although the practice was declared to be abandoned in a ceremony in 2011. This particular form of FGC has also been reported in communities in Peru, Eastern Mexico and Brazil. The same report also talks of FGC among aboriginal tribes in Australia, but this has since been refuted.

FGC is also practiced among diaspora communities in Western countries (including parts of Europe, the USA and Australia). You can find out more by looking at our resources map, here.

With more than 125 million women around the world living with the effects, FGC is a global issue that urgently needs addressing.

What about in countries with a diaspora population?

Female genital cutting is known to be practised in diaspora populations around the world including Europe, US and Australasia.  Practising communities bring traditions with them as they migrate and may be more likely to hold on to customs which they perceive as part of their cultural identity.

Interestingly, while foot binding was abandoned in China within a generation, it was the members of the Californian diaspora who were most resistant to abandonment.

As with all figures related to FGC, it is very hard to come up with accurate estimates for practice within these immigrant communities, and figures from different sources vary enormously. Girls are also taken overseas, often during the summer holidays to be cut in countries where FGC is legal.

Is FGC just an African problem?

Female genital cutting is practised around the globe by diverse peoples and religions.

It is documented in Asian countries including Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It is also known to be practised in the Middle East, in countries such as Iraqi Kurdistan, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. There are also reports from one group in India and Pakistan, the Bohra Dawoodi, who also practise. Increasingly, FGC is an issue amongst diaspora communities throughout Europe, the USA and Australia.

More than 125 million women in the world today are living with the effects of FGC and it is estimated that there are 500,000 women living with the consequences in Europe.

Because FGC is a taboo subject, it is difficult to quantify its extent. New information is continually shedding light on places that had not been previously known to practise FGC. Further research is needed in order to address FGC in a comprehensive way.