In some countries, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is threatening the health of women, girls and their babies. FGM/C is a traditional practice which is present in over 30 countries worldwide (28 countries in Africa alone). It is a coming-of-age ritual which often determines marriageability. In countries like Somalia and Djibouti, 98% of girls are subjected to this practice.
While often incorrectly associated with religious practices, FGM/C is actually more about cultural and social expectations around sexual purity, preserving virginity and community status. FGM/C has serious long-term consequences including infertility, complications in childbirth, newborn deaths, recurrent infections and mental trauma.
World Vision’s work involves introducing Alternative Rites of Passage – preserving the cultural aspects of coming-of-age, but removing the cutting aspect. In Kenya and Tanzania, communities have adopted new ways of celebrating adulthood through vibrant celebrations that respect the dignity of girls and preserve their health. In one community the FGM prevalence decreased by 75%, highlighting the impacts of education and advocacy.