What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation (often referred to as FGM) is a destructive operation, during which the female genitals are partly or entirely removed or injured with the goals of inhibiting a woman’s sexual feelings. Most often the mutilation is performed before puberty, often on girls between the age of four and eight, but recently it is increasingly performed on nurslings who are only a couple of days, weeks or months old.

Where does FGM happen?

Female Genital Mutilation happens primarily in Africa, in particular in North-Eastern, Eastern and Western Africa. However, it also takes place in the Middle East, in South-East Asia – and also among immigrants in Europe. According to estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) 150 million women are affected by FGM world-wide. In Europe, the number of mutilated women or girls and women threatened by FGM amounts up to 500,000.

How many different types of FGM are there?

The WHO differentiates between four different types of Female Genital Mutilation:

Type 1. Excision of the clitoris prepuce (“Sunna-circumcision”) and of the clitoris or parts thereof.

Type 2. Excision of the clitoris prepuce, the clitoris and the inner lips or parts thereof. Type 1 and 2 are the most common types of FGM: 80% of the affected women have gone through these procedures.

Type 3. Excision of part of or all of the external genitals (“infibulation”, also referred to as “Pharaonic Circumcision”). Afterwards the remaining parts of the outer lips are sewn together leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual flow. The scar need to be opened before intercourse or giving birth, which causes additional pain.

Infibulation is mainly spread in the Horn of Africa and its neighbouring areas – in Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea, as well as in the northern part of Sudan and in the southern part of Egypt. It is the most severe form of FGM and affects 15% of the women who suffered FGM.

Type 4. Uncategorized. Pricking, piercing, cutting or stretching of the clitoris or the labia, also burning or scarring the genitals as well as ripping of the vaginal opening or the introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina in order to tighten it. Plus: any other procedure, which injures or circumcises the female genitalia.

Who performs FGM?

FGM is usually performed by professional circumcisers, women who are enjoying a high reputation in their societies. It is also performed by traditional midwives and occasionally by healers, barbers or nurses or doctors trained in Western medicine. The procedure is usually performed without anaesthetic and under catastrophic hygienic circumstances. Knives, scissors, razor blades or pieces of broken glass are used as instruments among others.


Prevalence and legal status

The Desert Flower Foundation has put together a collection of data on the estimated prevalence of female genital mutilation and the current legal situation concerning FGM in a selection of countries where FGM is practiced. The table combines data from the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Department of State, FGM Network, WADI, The Interparliamentary Union (IPU) and several national studies and surveys. You can download it by clicking on the button below.

Waris Diries friend Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s foundation has published an overview of the facts and the legal situation regarding FGM in the UK and the United States, which can be accessed here.

FGM in Europe: Facts


* Up to 500,000 girls and women living in the European Union are affected or threatened by FGM.
* 75,000 of them live in Great Britain, 65,000 in France, 30,000 in Germany.
* The victims are migrants, whose families took along this practice when they immigrated.
* In spite of the fact that FGM is in most European countries either directly or indirectly prohibited, the laws are either incomplete or they are not enforced. The only country in which legal proceedings in connection with Female Genital Mutilation have ever been instituted, is France.
* Most European countries hardly invest in awareness training and in investigations.
* There are no effective cross-border measures against Female Genital Mutilation. Any efforts – which vary tremendously in their degree – take place within the country borders. FGM is still not considered to be a European problem.
* The victims are usually approached in the health sector and by authorities in an inadequate way, ignorance prevails.
* FGM is in hardly any European country a regular part of the vocational training of doctors, midwives and social workers.
* No European country explicitly accepts the threat of genital mutilation as a reason for asylum.

FGM - What can we do?

1. Help raising awareness!

Talk about this crime! Tell your families, friends, colleagues and acquaintances what Female Genital Mutilation is – and that it happens here in Europe, among us. In order to finally ban FGM in Europe it is important, that as many people as possible are informed and that they oppose this practice.

Controvert, if somebody claims genital mutilation to be part of a culture, a tradition or a religion and justifies it this way! Many of these arguments are based on the fear to be labelled as xenophobic or racist when denouncing this crime. But: tolerating genital mutilation is racist! If white girls or even men were affected by it, such a crime would not be tolerated for a single second. But doing such a thing to coloured people or black girls is tolerable? Fear of contact cannot be tolerated if it concerns human rights or the rights of children! These rights are applicable to all human beings! World-wide!

2. Help to implement it!

Support politicians, lobbies, help organisations who actively fight against genital mutilation. Genital mutilation must be condemned and banned in all of Europe. Offenders and even responsible parents must be punished for this crime. Women who escape from this fate to this continent as well as women who are part of an immigrant community and therefore have to leave their place of residence must be protected. We need to apply as much pressure as possible so that this becomes reality in all of Europe. The more people support these aims and the more consistent these claims are, the faster we can achieve these objectives – and save thousands of little girls.

You may find a list of possible contact persons and institution under “addresses and links”.

3. Raise an alarm!

In the event that you get to know about e.g. an upcoming journey to Africa of a small girl and you suspect due to certain evidences (!) that it is intended that this girl will be mutilated on this journey – inform the police or the public prosecutor! I know, that this will only apply to few of the readers. But again and again I get to know tragic cases in which girls are knowingly abandoned to their fate – because people are ignorant, insecure or scared.

Genital mutilation is prohibited directly or indirectly in most EU-countries – but the laws are not enforced. One of the reasons is that the authorities are hardly ever informed on these crimes. In France for instance some girls could be saved from their cruel fate, because people informed the authorities. Let us make this possible for the rest of Europe as well!

4. Support my fight!

I have founded the Waris-Dirie-Foundation for my personal fight against Female Genital Mutilation. Support my foundation! Under the link “shop” you can find numerous posters and picture which you can buy. The proceeds are used to finance projects against genital mutilation.


Afrikanische Frauenorganisation in Wien
Counselling and research funded by the EU and supported by the City of Vienna

Türkenstraße 3 – 1090 Wien
Tel. +43-1-3105145

Orient Express
Beratungsstelle für Migrantinnen (Beratung, Betreuung, Begleitung)
Beratung in deutscher, türkischer, arabischer und englischer Sprache statt und ist anonym und kostenlos.

Hillerstr. 6/3-5
1020 Wien


ai-Network Frauenrechte
Network on women’s rights, amnesty international Österreich
Bewusstseinsbildung, Sensibilisierung
Moeringgasse 10/1
A-1150 Wien


Österreichische Plattform gegen Genitalverstümmelung
Austrian umbrella organisation against FGM

Contact: Nationalrats-Abgeordnete Petra Bayr
Schenkenstraße 8 – 1010 Wien


Information, factsheets, studies,for teachers, students, medical professionals

Studien, Informationen, auf den Länderspezifischen Seiten ( z.B. unicef.de) finden sich auch interessante repräsentative Umfragen in den jeweiligen Ländern.
Weiters finden sich auch berufsspezifische Informationen und Kampagnen.


Terre des Femmes
Women’s rights organisation. Runs a campaign against FGM and provides information for teachers, students, social workers and those affected by FGM.

Postfach 2565 – 72015 Tübingen
tel.:(0 70 71) 79 73-0


(Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development)

FORWARD-Germany e.V.
Martin-Luther-Str. 35
60389 Frankfurt am Main / Deutschland

International Organisation against FGM, key target country is Benin.

Johannisstrasse 4
D-66111 Saarbrücken, Deutschland
Tel. +49-(0)681-32400


Stop mutilation e. V. – Düsseldorf
Information for health professionals, social workers etc.
J. Cumar
Gustorferstr. 12
D-40549 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 (211) 5 06 57 45

DAFI Deutsch-Afrikanische Frauen-Initiative

Prinzenallee 81 – 13357 Berlin
tel.:0049 – (0)30 – 2940259

DAFNEP – Deutsch-Afrikanisches Frauen Network-Projekt
Medical counselling for african women in Berlin.
Mariatu Rohde
Wildpfad 7, 14193 Berlin
MariatuRohde@web.de und mariatur@web.de
Tel: 030  8255765 und 030  89729970

Familienplanungszentrum Balance e.V.
A female doctor provides counselling on FGM and also offers medical treatment of related issues.
Mauritius-Kirch-Str. 3, 10365 Berlin, Deutschland
Tel: 030/55 36 792,

G.R.A.F. e.V.
(Gesellschaft für die Rechte afrikanischer Frauen)
Migrants and doctors provide counselling to migrants on issues such as FGM and HIV / AIDS
Kaiserdamm 24, 14057 Berlin
Tel. 0049 30/301 139 40 oder 030/88 68 77 00

Stadtgesundheitsamt Frankfurt, Beratungsstelle für AfrikanerInnen
An employee from Kenya provides migrants with information on FGM and HIV / AIDS
Braubachstr. 14-16, Room 303
Tel: 0049 69/212- 452 41

AGISRA e.V. – Köln
Organisation against discrimination and sexual exploitation
Steinbergerstr. 40, 50733 Cologne
Tel: 0049 221/12 40 19 oder 13 90 392
E-Mail: agisra@e-migrantinnen.de


GAMS – Groupe Femmes pour l’Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles

66 rue des Grands-Champs 75020 Paris
Tél : (33) 01 43 48 10 87


CAMS – Commission pour l’Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles

Präsidentin : Linda Weil-Curiel
6, Place St. Germain -des-Près
75006 Paris, Frankreich
Tel : (33.01)

Equilibres et Populations

205, bd Saint Germain – 75007 Paris
tel.:01 53 63 80 40
fax.:01 53 63 80 50

Institut Théramex

38-40 avenue de New-York
75016 PARIS
Tél. :


Amnesty International Secretariat
Die Menschenrechtsorgansiation arbeitet seit 1995 weltweit gegen FGM.

1 Easton Street
London WC1X 8DJ
Tel:  +44 20-74135500
Fax +44-20-79561157
mail: office@amnesty.org

Information and extensive bibliography on FGM:

The African Well Women’s Service
Waltham Forest
Kirkdale House 7,
Kirkdale Road
Leytonstone, London, E11 1HP
Tel: 0044 (0) 20 8928 2244
Fax: 0044 (0) 20 8928 2255

Jennifer Bourne
Specialist Nurse for FGM
Waltham Forest PCT
Kirkdale House 7 Kirkdale Road
London E11 1JB
Tel: 020 8928 2238
Fax: 020 8928 2255


Unit 4, 765 – 767 Harrow Road
LONDON, United Kingdom
NW10 5NY
Tel: +44 (0)20 8960 4000

Research, Action and Information Network for the Bodily Integritiy of Women.

Suite 5A, Queens Studios
121 Salusbury Road
London NW6 6RG
Tel: +44-20-7625-3400

Black Women’s Health and Family Organisation

1st Floor, 82 Russia Lane
London, UK
E2 9LU
Tel. +44-20-8980 3503

Women Living under Muslim Law

International Coordination Office
PO Box 28445, London, N19 5NZ, UK,

Clinics speciallised in treating FGM in GB:

The African Well Woman Clinic
Comfort Momoh, Office 3, 6th Floor, North Wing
St Thomas Hospital, London SE1 7EH,
tel: +44-20 7960 5595

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson African Women’s Clinic / Women and helath
Sarah Craighton
Contact: Maligaye Bikoo, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Huntley street, WC 1E 6DH
+4420 7387 9300-2531

Harry Gordon Antenatal Clinic
Central Middlesex Hospital
Acton Lane, Park Royal, London NW10 7NS .
Tel: +44-20 8965 5733

Susan Dolman Antenatal Clinic
Northwick Park & St Marks Hopitals,
Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3UJ
+44-20 8869 2880

Lydia Moore Multi-Cultural Antenatal Clinic
Liverpool women’s Hospital, Crown Street,
Liverpool L8 755


Associazione Italiana Donne per lo Sviluppo
Via dei Giubbonari, 30
00186 – Rome
Tel: +39 06 687 3214
Fax: +39 06 687 2549

Reproductive Health Counselling Center that works for the upgrading of
family planning centers and mother and child health (MCH) centers with an
integrated and holistic approach to reproductive health. The organisation supports
programmess for the  eradication of gender-based violence (GBV) and the
abandonment of female genital mutilations (FGM) in Africa and in Europe

Amnesty Italien
*Via Giovan Battista De Rossi, 10
00161 Roma*
Tel: (+39) 06 44901
Fax: (+39) 06 4490222
Email: info@amnesty.it
Trav. Messina
2 – 88842 San Leonardo di Cutro (KR)
Milano – Italy

FGM Kampagne & Linksammlung


Page of an italian womens’ rights activist.


The Padova Working Group on FGM

University of Padova


Pia Grassivario

email: pia.grassivario@unipd.it

SaPeRiDoc – Centro di DOCumentazione  sulla SAlute PErinatale e RIproddutiva

Gynäkologische Information, Beratung und Vermittlung
Vittorio Basevi (responsabile): v.basevi@ausl.mo.it

Nigriza – Il sito del´Africa e del mondo nero
Vicolo Pozzo,
1 – 37129 Verona (Italia)
Tel. +39 045 8092253
Fax +39 045 8092291
IISMAS – Institute for scince, medicine, anthropology and social studies.
IISMAS Onlus Via Anagnina, 325 – 00040
Roma Tel.06/58543780 -
Fax 06/58543782 /
Preventive medicine for migrants, information about FGM


International Center for Reproductive Health (ICRH)
The University of Ghent conducts cross-border studies on FGM as part of the Daphne-Programme of the European Union.

De Pintelaan 185 P3
9000 Ghent

Contact: info@icrh.org


Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies

The SFM (Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies) an NGO that cooperates with the University of  Neuenburg in Switzerland


Herenstraat 35
Postbus 13318
3507 LH Utrecht
Telefoon 030 234 9800
Fax 030 236 4560
E-mail info@pharos.nl

Pharos is the Dutch national knowledge centre for “immigrants and health”. Pharos provides information and conducts research, but also offers counselling.



Swedish Organisation working against FGM


News Agency for Africa with latest news by country

Biggest portal for African information with articles from different African countries

US Government: FGM reports by country
Article about FGM in Tanzania (guardian)
Movie: On their own/ Reham´s Story

Wikipedia on FGM
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hanny Lightfood-Klein
“To mutilate in the name og Jehova or Allah” – very interesting!
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Shows his activities against genital mutilation online.
Documents for dowonload.

Facts oft he TV Channel with a lot of interesting links and background articles (also for European situation)

Female Genital Project
Huge new designed portal with a lot of information and forum plus chat. In English..

Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC)
Homepage of the African NGO, which fights against FGM in Europe. (English).

Development Policy Online
Reports from Guinea

No Peace without Justice (NPWJ)
Reports, protocols and documents of the organization. The organization mainly works in legal international relations.


Site of section FGM:

Article about Female Genital Mutilation