Image of a desert rose: adenium obesum by Filip Lachowski

Image of a desert rose (adenium obesum) by Filip Lachowski (Creative Commons)

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the cutting or altering of the external female genital organs. FGM is a traditional cultural practice rather than a religious practice that can be found in communities and certain ethnic groups in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America.

It is usually done by someone who is not medically trained using unsterile blades or knives with no anaesthesia and usually performed on young girls, but can be performed on babies or older women.

It has no known health benefit to girls or women and is considered in Australian and around the world as a violation of their human rights:

  • It is a criminal act in Australia to perform or procure female circumcision on anyone under 18 years of age.
  • It is illegal to send a child or young woman overseas from Australia for this purpose.
  • It is considered an assault on a female child or young woman under 18 years of age.
  • You may understand female circumcision as being open or closed or cut or not cut.

Adapted from Crimes (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 1996.

ABC News: 3 things I know about female genital mutilation

For more information

australian government department of social services

National Education Toolkit for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Awareness

What is it? Why does it happen?

What does the Australia Law say about it?

What human rights does FGM violate?

Different types of FGM.

love matters logo