DAKAR, Senegal – Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. … The practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women’s sexuality, and ideas about purity, modesty and beauty.
Psychosexual reasons: FGM is carried out as a way to control women’s sexuality, which is sometimes said to be insatiable if parts of the genitalia, especially the clitoris, are not removed. It is thought to ensure virginity before marriage and fidelity afterward, and to increase male sexual pleasure.
The World Health Organization (2008, Annex 5) reported that immediate psychological trauma may stem from the pain, shock and the use of physical force by those performing FGM. In the long term, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and memory loss may occur (Behrendt and Moritz, 2005).
FGM is illegal in many countries. Applying the law, however, is another matter: a study published in 2000 found that prosecutions had been brought in only four of the 28 countries of Africa and the Middle East where FGM is practised.
Laws prohibiting FGM have also been introduced in several countries with immigrant communities continuing the practice.
Although estimates of the prevalence of FGM vary, sources have consistently found the practice to be undergone by the majority of women in the Horn of Africa, in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso, as well as in Sudan and Egypt.