The number of women in Sweden who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) is much higher than previously thought, a new study shows. Often women suffer so much from the surgery that they have difficulty moving.
In 2015, the National Board of Health estimated that there were approximately 38,000 genital mutilated women in Sweden.
Now a new study has been made that includes all countries in Europe. The study has not been published yet, but SVT has obtained the figures for Sweden.
According to the study, Sweden is one of the countries with the highest proportion of immigrant women from countries where genital mutilation is a very common phenomenon, such as Somalia and Ethiopia.
Probably there are 150,000 genital mutilated women in Sweden right now, the study shows. But because genital mutilation is a very silenced problem, even that figure may be too low.
Many women suffer without even knowing why. The genital mutilation may have taken place so early in their lives that they may not remember it.
The problems can be severe pain in the abdomen and stomach, urine and non-emerging urine, which causes repeated urinary tract infections and severe menstrual pain. Women exposed to so-called "pharaonic mutilation" have difficulties moving, because the pain is so severe. Such mutilation is common in Somalia and means that as much as possible of the clitoris and the inner and outer labia are cut away. Only a small hole for urine is left. The procedure is done completely without anesthesia on girls before they reach five years.
In addition, FGM continues among children in Sweden.
FGM of girls is prohibited by Swedish law, but in some immigrant groups, tradition is so strong that many return to their country of origin or another country to carry out the surgery.
The large number of women in Sweden who have undergone FGM poses completely new demands on Swedish healthcare and schools, writes SVT.
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