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This Innocenti Digest examines the social dynamics of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). In communities where it is practiced, FGM/C is an important part of girls and womens cultural gender identity. The procedure imparts a sense of pride, of coming of age and a feeling of community membership. Moreover, not conforming to the practice stigmatizes and isolates girls and their families, resulting in the loss of their social status. The social expectations surrounding FGM/C represent a major obstacle to families who might otherwise wish to abandon the practice. This Innocenti Digest is a contribution to a growing movement to end the practice around the world.
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