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Female Genital Mutilation

6 Feb, 2016

Today is International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. To mark the day watch our new audio slideshow which explores the stories behind some of the girls and women who have undergone this procedure or who themselves perform it on others. Find out why one woman voluntarily chose to have this done and what motivates some of the women who continue to perform this on others.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the intentional alteration or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It offers no medical benefit and yet in spite of being illegal in many countries is still widely practiced today. It is often performed on young girls and children for a variety of social, cultural and religious reasons and is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Our audio slideshow is narrated by and features the work of Nancy Durrell McKenna, an award winning photographer and filmmaker, and long-standing contributor to Wellcome Images. She is Founder Director of the charity SafeHands for Mothers who work to improve maternal and newborn health by using the power of visual imagery to inform communities and educate frontline healthcare workers. In the audio slideshow meet Beatrice, a young woman in Uganda who has chosen to undergo FGM after moving into her husband’s community. Hear what motivated her to make this perhaps surprising decision. Also meet Medina, a traditional circumciser in Djibouti who explains why she continues to provide this service to the women in her community.

Approximately 140 million girls and women are currently living with the effects of FGM as the practice continues globally in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East and among diaspora communities. Long-term complications include incontinence, infertility, psychological trauma and the need for later surgeries.

To see more of Nancy’s images or to licence any of these photographs, see her collection on Wellcome Images.

Find out more and explore Wellcome Trust-funded research looking at the history of FGM in the UK and see our educational resource on FGM in Big Picture.

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. All our images are available in digital form so please click the link above if you would like to use any of the pictures that feature in this post, or to quickly find related ones. Many are free to use non-commercially under the terms of a Creative Commons licence and full details of the specific licence for each image are provided.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lynn Turner permalink
    6 Feb, 2016 10:28 am

    Why are you calling this ‘circumcision’? It is true that there are movements countering the circumcising of boys since the removal of the foreskin without anaesthetic must also be traumatic, but really this is unfathomably vile. It is mutilation through and through and obscene that women are so oppressed they are the ones who implement it.

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