03/24/2014 02:24 pm ET Updated Mar 24, 2014

UN Videos Tell Heartbreaking Stories Of Female Genital Mutilation Victims

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has released a series of informative videos about female genital mutilation to continue raising awareness on the widespread assault on human rights.

The practice, oftentimes referred to as FGM, is the intentional altering or injuring of a woman's reproductive organs for non-medical reasons. While it affects women in communities worldwide, it's especially prevalent in regions of sub-Sahara and northeast Africa, according to UNICEF. More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 African and Middle Eastern countries, the World Health Organization found.

The six videos released on UNHCR's YouTube channel feature the stories of women who have been personally affected by FGM, many of whom are now fighting to end the practice.

"FGM is harmful, not cultural," the end of the first video notes. "It has lifelong consequences."

Among those consequences are infection, chronic pain, the inability to become pregnant, complications during childbirth and fatal bleeding, according to Swiss Medical Weekly.

Ending FGM has proved challenging, in part because some women in communities that routinely practicing FGM support the procedure, believing women are not suitable for marriage if they are not "cut," according to the Associated Press. Even in nations where FGM is prohibited, cracking down on the practice is difficult, as victims are typically disempowered young girls who are afraid to speak up, The Guardian reported.



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