Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a traditional cultural practice, but also a form of violence against girls, which affects their lives as adult women. FGM comprises a wide range of procedures: the excision of the prepuce; the partial or total excision of the clitoris (clitoridectomy) and labia; or the stitching and narrowing of the vaginal orifice (infibulation).
The number of girls and women who have been subjected to FGM is estimated at around 137 million worldwide and 2 million girls per year are considered at risk. Most females who have undergone mutilation live in 28 African countries.
Globalization and international migration have brought an increased presence of circumcised women in Europe and developed countries. Healthcare specialists need to be made aware and trained in the physical, psychosexual, and cultural aspects and effects of FGM and in the response to the needs of genitally mutilated women. Health education programs targeted at immigrant communities should include information on sexuality, FGM, and reproduction. Moreover, healthcare workers should both discourage women from performing FGM on their daughters and receive information on codes of conduct and existing laws. The aim is the total eradication of all forms of FGM.