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Female Genital Mutilation/Circumscision

Female Genital Mutilation/Circumcision is of no benefit to women and girls. Rather, it harms women and girls in many ways by interfering with the natural function of their bodies.

Female genital mutilation/circumcision (FGM/C) refers to the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (WHO, 2008).

While the practice of FGM/C occurs in various countries of the world, it is most prevalent in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Over 200 million women and girls have gone through FGM/C worldwide (UNICEF 2016). Each year, an estimated 3 million women go through female genital mutilation. The act is usually carried out on young girls before the age of 5 but there have been records of FGM/C being carried out on young women between the ages of 15-49.  

The practice of FGM/C is a long-standing tradition in some cultures where it is believed to be infallible and required as a rite of passage for young girls. In some cultures, it is believed that a woman will not be married if she has not been cut. Hence the act becomes a norm for every family on the female child.  

The practice is usually carried out by local/traditional cutters in communities who use knives, razor blades, or other tools to carry out this practice. In some cases, it is performed by a family member while in some cases, nurses, midwives, and other professional health workers who subscribe to the practice act as perpetrators.  

FGM/C is recognized internationally as an act that violates the human rights of women and girls and promotes discrimination against the female gender. In countries like the United States, France, Kenya, and Senegal, it is illegal to perform FGM/C.

Types of FGM/C

Type I (Clitoridectormy)

This involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris only/or including the prepuce/clitoral hood which surrounds the clitoris.

Type II (Excision)

Type II, otherwise known as Excision consists of the partial or total removal of the clitoris or the labia minora (the inner lips that surround the vagina). This is done with or without the cutting out of the labia majora (outer folds of the vulva).

Type III (Infibulation)


The Type III Female Genital Mutilation is also called Infibulation. This is the most severe form of FGM. This procedure has to do with the narrowing of the vaginal orifice (the narrowest portion of the vaginal canal). After which a covering seal is created. To form this seal, the labia minora or labia minora are cut and repositioned, leaving a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood. The covering of the vaginal opening is done with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce

Type IV

This includes all other harmful procedures to the genitalia of women for non-medical purposes, such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Reasons for practicing FGM/C

One of the countries with high FGM/C prevalence is Nigeria. The country is home to over 180 million people, 49.4% of whom are female (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2017). It is estimated that 19.9 million women undergo FGM/C in Nigeria every year (Shell-Duncan, Naik, and Feldman-Jacobs 2016), making it the country with the third-largest incidences of FGM in the world. 

Despite the ban of FGM/C in Nigeria, the practice of FGM/C still takes place in the country with 25% of women and girls, aged 15-49 having undergone some form of FGM/C (UNFPA). According to the Demographic and Health Surveys, 2013, the prevalence rate of FGM/C in Nigeria is highest in Osun state (77%) followed by Ebonyi State (74%), Ekiti State (72%), Imo state (68%) and Oyo state (66%).  

Why We Must End FGM/C

There is no medical benefit associated with FGM/C but it is known to harm women and girls in many ways by interfering with the natural function of women and girls bodies.

All forms of FGM/C are associated with some form of health risk although the higher the severity, the more the associated health risk. Complications and possible health risks include excessive bleeding, infections, sexual problems (eg. during intercourse), need for later surgeries and other psychological problems including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder). 

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What We Are Doing About It

The StopCut Project

The Stop Cut Project is a United Nations Trust Fund funded project to end Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) in southwest Nigeria.  

In 2015, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act was passed and requires domestication in each State. Some states have laws and policies against FGM/C, however, for some reason, citizens are unaware of these Act or laws. Also, enforcement of FGM/C laws is reportedly low. The system for reportage of harmful practices, either intended or unintended is uncoordinated, causing citizen’s distrust for the system. 

Various stakeholders have contributed immensely towards advocating against female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) practices in Nigeria. However, the prevalence remains high due to factors such as lack of coordinating agencies, inadequate systems for law enforcement, lack of public awareness on existing policies and laws, poor reporting of FGM/C cases, low capacity of existing anti-FGM groups and CSOs to advocate for policy implementations and enforcement in Nigeria. To this end, there is a need for a collaborative multidisciplinary approach to develop local strategies steered at ending FGM/C in Nigeria.  

The StopCut Project is focused on reducing FGM/C practice in Ekiti, Osun and Oyo state in Southwest Nigeria by improving policy and law implementation by December 2023. 

Our Goal

  • Review of existing policies and laws to identify gaps and advocate for FGM/C specific policies.
  • Strengthened capacities of the established Alliance on FGM/C policies and laws, enforcement of laws and efficient reporting system.
  • Positive behavioural change of community members regarding FGM/C practices.

HACEY Health Initiative

HACEY Health Initiative is a development organization focused on improving the health and productivity of the vulnerable and underserved population in Africa. Over the last 12 years, we have worked with communities, government institutions, private sector companies, civil society groups and the media to design and implement sustainable interventions aimed at creating a lasting impact for our beneficiaries.

The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women

The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, is the only global grant-making mechanism dedicated to eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls. 

The Spotlight Initiative

The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

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