17 February 2022, The Tablet

Freeing women from a brutal tradition

Female genital mutilation

Freeing women from a brutal tradition

Sr Ephigenia Gachiri speaks at a village in the diocese of Nakuru, Kenya
Photo: Alamy, Friedrich Stark


Campaigners around the world have welcomed Pope Francis’ condemnation of female gential mutilation, sometimes known as female circumcision. They include women Religious who have been in the forefront of those working with communities to eradicate the practice

In the words of Pope Francis, it is one of the “wounds of humanity”. Speaking in Rome on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), he said: “This practice, which is unfortunately common in various parts of the world, humiliates the dignity of a woman and gravely attacks her physical integrity.” He urged leaders to act decisively to prevent it.

FGM (also called female circumcision or female genital cutting) ranges from removing part of the clitoris, to removing part or all of the labia, to infibulation, which means sewing the vaginal opening together, leaving a small hole for the passage of urine and menstrual fluid. Female genital cutting in various forms has been practised in every continent on Earth.

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