Middle East

About FGC

Female genital cutting (FGC) is known to occur within some Middle Eastern countries. Except in Yemen and Iraq, there are no national FGC prevalence statistics available across the region. There are, however, reports and studies demonstrating that the practice occurs in various different parts of the Middle East. It is also documented that medicalised cutting takes place in areas such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Reports have shown that girls may be taken from their home countries and go to cities such as Dubai to undergo FGC.

FGC is known to occur within communities in Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Iraq, Kuwait and Iran.  


Progress and challenges

  • Similar to other parts of the world where the practice is prevalent, FGC in the Middle East is a deeply entrenched social norm that is linked to cultural notions of femininity. It is largely practised as a way of controlling female sexuality and is often linked to religion, despite it not being a religious obligation.
  • Increasingly, medicalisation presents a challenge to progress. When cutting is offered as a procedure in clinics and hospitals, it legitimises the practice despite it being dangerous and harmful in all contexts. In countries such as UAE, FGC is thought to be regularly carried out in medical settings.
  • Lack of research and data on FGC across the Middle East continues to present a challenge, as the scale of the issue is unknown.

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