The fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) is an ongoing global battle with a target of eliminating the practice by 2030. For many women living with the consequences, the battle has become a deeply personal journey to reclaim control over their bodies and heal the physical and psychological trauma caused by FGM.
FGM is a deeply entrenched social norm in many cultures and is often linked to beliefs about femininity, cleanliness, and chastity. However, it is widely condemned by Islamic authorities, and there is evidence that the practice is harmful, both physically and psychologically. It is estimated that at least 200 million women and girls are living with the aftermath of FGM, and it is a practice which can cause excessive bleeding, infections, and even death.
Despite the opposition to FGM, there is still resistance from some religious leaders, traditional gatekeepers, and a lack of funding and political will from some governments. Furthermore, a perception that ending cutting reflects a “Western-led agenda” makes it more difficult to change minds and eliminate the practice.
As a result, many women suffering from the aftereffects of FGM post anonymously online in the search for healing, including information on medical procedures. Women considering medical interventions have found specialized treatment, including in the United States and Europe, but in many countries, options can be scarce or too costly.
In Egypt, Restore FGM is a private clinic that opened in 2020 to provide surgical and non-surgical therapies both physically and psychologically. However, some experts view the procedure of clitoral reconstruction with caution, as there is a lack of evidence to assess benefits, possible complications, or long-term outcomes.
Meanwhile, the journey to heal is ongoing for many women. For some, it includes therapy to accept themselves and their bodies, while others look to reclaim control over their health and body, and speak out against FGM. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the next generations of girls are protected from the harmful and deeply rooted practice of FGM.