The History of Female Genital Mutilation
Female genital mutilation is practiced around the world. Africa is the most effected continent but it was firs practiced in Australia during 1900 as a method of ‘curing the precocious masturbator’ according to Elizabeth A. Estabrooks. Even as late as 1979, Dr. James E. Burt was performing Sunna circumcision on women in the United States. While Dr. Burt was stopped, the practice continues in the United States, having been reintroduced (or maintained) by immigrants. One report commissioned by Rep. Louise M. Slaughter estimates that more than 160,000 girls and/or women have been or are at risk of FGM in the U.S. “Sunna” circumcision is the removal of the prepuce and/or the tip of the clitoris.
Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types.
- Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
- Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina).
- Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
- Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.