The impact of FGM on women’s mental health

Female Genital Mutilation has huge physical impacts on women & girls - but it also have wide-ranging psychological effects. Shawon from Youth For Change Bangladesh explores some of the dynamics in this blog...

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is also known as Female Circumcision in some part of the world is prevalent for over 5000 years among different cultures. Although this practice started in Europe and America, presently this is a tradition in many African, Middle Eastern, Asian, South American and Pacific countries. Migration from these countries to Western countries has increased the chance of healthcare professional facing victims of FGM who suffer psychologically and physically as a result.

Understanding the causes behind FGM

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To explain this practice, many explanations have been given which vary from culture to culture. The explanations include controlling female sex drive, ensuring paternity, maintaining marital fidelity, preventing lesbianism, calming the female personality and many others. These explanations are arguably forced by ‘sexist’ views which believe that women are subservient to men and second-class citizens in a society.

In some analytical literary works it’s been suggested that the motive for FGM is that men have unconscious fear of women’s sexuality and their drive to suppress it.

The psychological effects of FGM

So it can be argued that the drivers of FGM are rooted in psychology – traditions, culture, attitudes and social norms. And equally the practice can also have a devastating psychological consequences.

awareness raising on fgm in school {Credit: Plan}

awareness raising on fgm in school {Credit: Plan}

It is supposed that girls and women gain a sense of achievement of reaching adulthood after the circumcision process. But in reality FGM can have a massive negative impact on women’s psychological health.

The mental effects that follow FGM include a prevailing lack of body well-being, loss of trust, post-traumatic shock and depression. As a result of FGM women can struggle to experience sexual pleasure, or achieve orgasm. Girls and women who are victims of FGM can lose their self-esteem and a sense of self-worth

Many survivors might response with expressions of anger, shame, guilt or inadequacy. it’s  very clear that for many FGM is a source of vast mental distress, but unfortunately in many cases, the emotional and psychological effects are left untreated.

Female circumcision is a practice which should be regarded as a violation of humanitarian conduct. The people who are in a position to prevent this practice and the youths who form almost half of the population of the world should share common interest and expertise to prevent this inhuman trend known as female genital mutilation.    

This blog is part of our #WhyZeroFGM series marking Zero Tolerance to FGM Day.