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Female Genital Mutilation

            Globally, at least 2 million girls a year are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM), approximately 6,000 per day. Overall an estimated 85 to 114 million girls and women in the world are genitally mutilated. At present FGM is reportedly practiced in at least twenty-six African countries, among a few groups in Asia, and increasingly among immigrant populations in North and South America, Australia, and Europe. These women and girls experience pain, trauma, and frequently severe physical problems such as bleeding, infections, or even death. Long-term physical complications are numerous, and there appear to be substantial psychological effects on women's self-images and sexual lives. Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, is an extreme example of efforts common to societies around the world to suppress women's sexuality, ensure their subjugation, and control their reproductive functions.
             Female genital mutilation is the collective name given to several different practices that involve the cutting of female genitals. It was practiced by many ancient cultures, including the Phoenicians, Hittites, and the ancient Egyptians, modern physicians in England also used it and the United Sates as recently as the 1940s and 1950s to "treat" hysteria, lesbianism, masturbation, and other so called female deviancies.
             FGM is one of the traditional rituals that prepare girls for womanhood, although the age at which it is practiced varies widely. In some cultures, girls experience genital mutilation as early as infancy, while in others the ceremony may not occur until the girl is of marriageable age around fourteen to sixteen years old. Most commonly, however, girls experience FGM between four and eight years of age, at a time when they can be made aware of the social role expected of them as women.
             In the communities where FGM takes place, it is referred to as "female circumcision.

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