Those seeking to abolish female genital mutilation (FGM) in Tanzania confront new obstacles as communities practicing FGM begin to carry out the practice underground. This recent underground movement has formed in reaction to the 1998 Sexual Offenses Act which makes genital mutilation of young women under 18 a federal offense. According to a recent World Health Organization report, two million females face potential mutilation of their genitals each year. Between 85 and 115 million women and girls worldwide have already undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia.
Female genital mutilation continues among many countries of the world including those in Africa due to cultural myths surrounding the practice that view it as a mark of chastity, a rite of passage into womanhood, and a link to increased fertility. Women that undergo the painful sewing of their vagina and or removal of clitoris face the risk of death from excessive bleeding or infection. For those who survive, further complications can occur during childbirth as scar tissue blocks the birth canal.