The World Health Organisation and UNICEF classify medically unnecessary female genital cutting as one of four broad types of female genital mutilation:

  • Type I (also called clitoridectomy) involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the female foreskin (clitoral hood); [1]
  • Type II (also called excision) involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, either with or without the excision of the labia majora;
  • Type III (also called infibulation) involves the narrowing of the vaginal opening by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or labia majora, with or without the removal of the clitoris; and
  • Type IV consists of all other non-medical procedures that result in harm to female genitalia, and includes “pricking, piercing, incising, scraping or cauterization."

Type I, II and III female genital mutilation also have a number of subtypes depending on the exact nature of the cutting. Type Ia female genital mutilation involves only the removal of the female foreskin, making it the closest form comparable to male circumcision.

There has not yet been a single successful prosecution for female genital mutilation anywhere in the Australia, despite every Australian state and territory having criminalised the practice for decades, and despite it continuing to occur in some parts of our community. Our laws are not being enforced, and the current legislative and regulatory environment is not working.

Worse than this, other counties in our region have a legislative and regulatory system that specifically enables what the WHO defines as female genital mutilation to occur. In 2010, the Indonesian Government outlawed the more invasive practices, but allowed by regulation “scraping the clitoral hood, without injuring the clitoris.”

Despite the physical and psychological harms of female genital mutilation and the practice being criminalised in Australia and New Zealand, people continue to subject their daughters to female genital mutilation.

The Darbon Institute is working to change this, but we can't do it without your help.

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[1] This WHO description ignores the fact that the clitoris extends beneath the skin like an iceberg under water, and so it is never totally removed.

Further information

Labia library

Unicef 2012 FGM/C Statistical overview [Africa only] 

The Royal Women's Hospital, Victoria, Family & Reproductive Rights Education Program (FARREP)