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The cutter is usually an older woman, but in communities where the male barber has assumed the role of health worker he will perform FGM too.
Health professionals are often involved in Egypt, Kenya, Indonesia and Sudan.
is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.
The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common.
The practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women's sexuality, and ideas about purity, modesty and beauty.
It is usually initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honour, and who fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters cut will expose the girls to social exclusion. They can include recurrent infections, difficulty urinating and passing menstrual flow, chronic pain, the development of cysts, an inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth, and fatal bleeding.
The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children began referring to it as female genital mutilation in 1990, and the World Health Organization (WHO) followed suit in 1991.
Procedures differ according to the country or ethnic group.
UNICEF estimated in 2016 that 200 million women living today in 30 countries—27 African countries, Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen—have undergone the procedures.
Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, FGM is conducted from days after birth to puberty and beyond.
They include removal of the clitoral hood and clitoral glans; removal of the inner labia; and removal of the inner and outer labia and closure of the vulva.
In this last procedure, known as infibulation, a small hole is left for the passage of urine and menstrual fluid; the vagina is opened for intercourse and opened further for childbirth.