FGM Terminology:

A contextual use of terminology should be applied when working with a female patient. Here are common FGM terms and their implications (3):

  • “Female Genital Mutilation”:
    • “Mutilation” reinforces that the practice is a violation of girls’ and women’s rights
    • Promotes national and international advocacy for FGM abandonment
    • Establishes clear distinction from male circumcision
    • Widely accepted term
  • “Female Genital Cutting”:
    • Often used among practicing communities and individuals
    • Reflect importance of using non-judgmental terminology
  • “Female Circumcision”:
    • Should be avoided since it draws a parallel with male circumcision and thus creates confusion between these two different practices
  • Cultural Competency:
    • A survivor or affected communities should be asked which term she or they prefer
    • Different communities and cultures will use different terms when discussing FGM

Empowering Terminology:

  • “Victim” vs. “Survivor”
    • Mainstream the use of the term survivor instead of victim to empower the patient
    • A woman or girl should be asked which term she prefers to use.
  • “FGM-affected communities” vs. “FGM-practicing communities”
    • FGM-affected communities conveys a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of FGM on communities than the more neutral FGM- practicing communities