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Female Genital Mutilation Explained

Female genital mutilation explained

Melissa Cooke


Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a type of gender-based violence. It’s a procedure where external female genitalia are removed, or any other injury is caused to female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Abdirahman works with our partner organisation, Candlelight, which is working to end FGM in Somalia and Somaliland.

In partnership with Oxfam, we are working towards shifting and changing these norms through empowering communities by educating them on the health violations caused by FGM.
— Abdirahman Ismail, Project Manager with Candlelight

Poorer Girls

Women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 have already undergone this procedure. The majority were cut between the ages of four and 11. Girls who experience it are more likely to be poor girls and less likely to be educated. The practicing communities believe that the procedure shifts the girls from childhood to womanhood and prepares them for marriage.

Social Exclusion

Mothers and other family members are always the organising parties who organise the cutting events. They consider it part of what they must do in order to raise a girl properly and prepare her for adulthood and marriage. From their perspective, not conforming to this obligation would bring great harm and would result in shame and social exclusion,


Oxfam and Candlelight work to change people’s attitudes towards FGM, by educating them about the health risks associated with it. Awareness sessions and campaigns all help to inform people of the dangers of FGM.

Read more on our partner organisations here