Female Genital Mutilation
Committed to Ending the Pain
Female genital mutilation has long been regarded as a human rights abuse against women and girls under international law, but it continues to be practised by ethnic groups in almost 60 countries, mainly in Africa as well as parts of Asia and the Middle East.
Those at risk include female refugees in camps and urban areas. Thousands of women and girls from FGM-practising communities whose families have settled in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand are also affected or at risk. Carried out for traditional, cultural or religious reasons, FGM can cause severe health problems and even lead to death. Young girls are particularly vulnerable and FGM disproportionately affects the female child.
UNHCR considers that all types of FGM are harmful and a violation of human rights; we are committed to supporting global efforts to end the scourge, which is a form of gender-based violence that inflicts severe harm on victims, both mental and physical, and amounts to persecution.
Specifically, UNHCR works to eliminate female genital mutilation among refugees in camps and in urban areas in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen, running awareness programmes about FGM, supporting community engagement and providing safe houses for victims. UNHCR also addresses the medical consequences of FGM for women and girls, thus supporting their ability to pursue economic and other activities and so become more self-reliant and empowered.
UNHCR also advocates for the protection of asylum-seeking women and girls in industrialized countries and their full inclusion in integration programmes. We work with state and civil society partners to enhance the protection of women and girls seeking asylum on the grounds of FGM and the response of the asylum system to the specific needs of women and girls who have undergone FGM. UNHCR also works to fully include the needs of these victims in existing integration support.