Toronto Star (09.01.07) - Monday, September 10, 2007
Women in sub-Saharan African who undergo female genital
mutilation are increasingly at risk for HIV/AIDS, according to
researchers and activists. Over the past 10 years, sporadic
research data have linked FGM to rising rates of HIV
transmission among women in countries where it is widely
"Because FGM is coupled with the loss of blood and use is
often made of one instrument for a number of operations, the
risk of HIV/AIDS transmission is increased by the practice.
Also, due to damage to the female sex organs, sexual
intercourse can result in lacerations of tissues, which
greatly increases risk of transmission. The same is true for
childbirth and subsequent loss of blood," said the UN
Population Fund. Groups such as the London-based International
Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS and the Washington-
based Global Health Council concur.
According to a cross-section of data from a 2006 UN report on
AIDS, in countries where FGM is common - including Somalia,
Sudan, Tanzania, and Djibouti - an estimated 55-60 percent of
HIV infections are among women.
FGM is outlawed in most countries, though it continues to be
practiced in 28 African nations and in parts of the Middle
East and Asia, the World Health Organization reports. In
total, more than 100 million girls have suffered FGM, with 3
million more undergoing it annually.
Of the three most-common forms of FGM, Type III, also known as
infibulation or Pharaonic circumcision, is the most extreme.
The procedure involves removing the clitoris and labia and
stitching the vaginal opening shut, save for a small space for
the passage of urine and menstrual blood. Type III is common
in Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti, where some 98 percent of
women have suffered some form of FGM, reports Human Rights