Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the name commonly used for an ensemble of ritual practices affecting the sexual organs of girls ranging in ages from a few weeks old to puberty. FGM is practiced in twenty-eight countries of sub-Saharan Africa: its incidence varies widely, from 98 percent of women in Somalia and Egypt, to 50 percent in Benin and Kenya, and 5 percent in Congo and Uganda, according to the Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project.

Though commonly used, the label FGM is nevertheless disputed because it implies a negative evaluation of the practice. From the point of view of some people who use these practices, they do not consist of mutilation. For many, this label is an expression of Western prejudice and its lack ...

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