In Africa,
Female Genital Mutilation

By Jiani Zeng
Heather Nelson
Yangyang Yang

Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women. Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated (1). FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15. FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

Quote from: World Health Organization

Female genital mutilation is classified into 4 major types:

Type 1: Often referred to as clitoridectomy, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce.

Type 2: Often referred to as excision, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora.

Type 3: Often referred to as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris.

Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

In Africa, 1 in 5 female is being robbed of most basic human rights.

More than 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries. Hover over these girls' heads to see what will happen if FGM isn't put to an end soon.

FGM Prevalence by Country

his map shows prevalence by percent of FGM by country in Africa. The data is from UNICEF, which only provided statistics for certain countries. The countries in the light gray color have no data available. The map automatically displays the data for women aged 0 through 14 years old, girls born in our current generation. Using the buttons at the top, you may toggle between current data, and data from previous generations to view the changes in FGM prevalence over many decades. As you can notice, FGM prevalence has overall decreased in every country on this map, but the percentages still remain high — any percentage above 0 is one that still needs to change.

Women aged 0-14 years old

Women aged 15-49 years old

FGM Prevalence by Location: Urban setting vs. Rural environment

Here, we show the percentages of women who have undergone FGM by region in which they live, in order to explore whether urban or rural settings affect prevalence. We notice the trend that there are higher numbers in the rural setting. Perhaps families in more remote locations do not have access to newer information regarding the harmful nature of performing FGM on their daughters, or perhaps traditions stand longer in non-urban environments where there are more diverse populations.

Women aged 0-14 years old

Women aged 15-49 years old

FGM Prevalence by Wealth Percentile

Here, we look into how family income plays a role in FGM prevalence. We separated each woman in each country into one fo 5 wealth brackets: poorest, second poorest, middle percentile, second wealthiest, and wealthiest. As you may note, there are not significant changes across the span of wealth the country. In some cases, the percent of prevalence decreases when moving up on the wealth scale, but this is not true for all cases.

Women's Attitudes towards FGM by Country

Here we explore data that gave percentages of women that support FGM as a continuing tradition. We have represented this by animating a protester brazening an anti-FGM sign—the faster the waving, the more women that opposed FGM in the country. As you can notice, countries like Mali and Mauritania have protesters waving really slowly, as most women in these countries support FGM. Countries like Benin and Ghana, have really ardent protestors that shake their signs with an angry vigor.

'I convinced my sister not to do type III FGM on her daughter'

'No one should do FGM anymore'