It’s the “cutting season” — and that’s just as terrifying as it sounds.
The practice of female genital mutilation, also known as female genital cutting or FGM, is defined by the World Health Organization as any procedure that intentionally alters or causes injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons — and summer is when the practice thrives.
Young girls are out of school, giving them more time to heal before the next school session. It’s a time of year many young girls in Africa and the Middle East, where FGM is most prevalent, dread.
Become more informed about FGM by reading the seven facts below.
1. Between 100 million and 140 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation.
2. Most girls are cut between infancy and 15 years of age.
3. The practice is most common in Africa and the Middle East.
4. FGM is moving toward being medicalized.
5. In the countries where FGM is most prevalent, most women think it should end.
6. But, in some countries, more men than women think FGM should stop.
7. An estimated 500,000 women in the U.S. have undergone or are at risk of FGM.
Though the practice is illegal in the U.S., trends like “vacation cutting” and the perceived cultural importance of the act keeps it a threat to women. This estimation, released earlier this year, shocked many — the number names three times as many women in the U.S. at risk than previously thought.