About the Motives, Results und Prevalence of the Practice

Physical and Pyschological Consequences

Consequences of FGM
About 15 percent of the victims die from direct or long-term consequences of genital mutilation. Worldwide, approximately 264 million girls and women are currently living with the devastating physical and psychological consequences of this abuse.

Acute physical consequences

During the assault, the victims frequently suffer a state of shock due to terror, extreme pain, and uncontrolled bleeding. Unhygienic circumstances cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) and infections in the uterus and ovaries. Infections such as Tetanus, Gangrene, and general blood poisoning can lead to death. Urinary retention due to fear of pain as well as inflammation and swelling often occur after the mutilation. Additional use of force (such as forcible restraint, beating, and gagging) during the procedure often leads to injury of adjacent organs (like urinary tract, vagina, perineum, or rectum) and fractures such as broken collarbones, arms, or femurs.

Chronic physical consequences

Severe pain due to build-up of scar tissue, infertility caused by recurring infections, and chronic pain owing to nerve damage are all common. The injury of tissue lining often leads to urinary and stool incontinence. Most victims suffer sexual dysfunction: the sexual experience is extremely diminished or irreparably deadened, pain during intercourse occurs frequently. It results in disrupted menstruation (pain, collection of blood in the vagina) due to partial or near-complete closing of the vaginal opening as well as, more commonly, to HIV infections.

Consequences for pregnancy and birth

Due to inflexible scar tissue and constriction of the vaginal opening, the labor is often dangerously extended. Many children die of anoxia (lack of oxygen) or suffer brain damage. The mothers have — besides unnecessarily great pain — a high risk of wound- and urinary tract infections, sepsis, and risky bleeding during defibulation and re-infibulation. Birth injuries such as severe tearing of the perineum or urethra and incontinence are common.

Incontinence occurs if the baby's head presses with force against the pelvis for an extended period of time. The tissue dies and leaves behind a hole between the vagina and bladder, and sometimes the rectum as well. As a result, excretions can no longer be held back, leading to severe incontinence. If a women can no longer control her excretions, it is an enormous burden that, like infertility or stillbirths, often leads to her exclusion from society.

Psychological and social consequences

Besides these severe physical damages, mutilation leaves behind grave, inescapable physical and mental trauma. The experience of violence, the deadly fear, and serious pain can, for a large number of victims, cause lasting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociation, and anxiety disorders. Because her own relatives hand her over to the perpetrator, or even assist in the act, the mutilation is often connected with loss of trust in related people and attachment disorder. Long-term, the victims can suffer from feelings of incompleteness, fear, depression, psychosis, chronic irritability, sexual disorders, and conflict in partnerships. 

About SAIDA International e.V.

We are committed to supporting women and children’s rights in developing countries. Our work focuses on education for young girls, stopping genital mutilation and early marriages, empowering women, and improving reproductive health. 


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