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Infibulation is the practice of surgical closure of the female labia majora by sewing them together to seal off the female genitalia, leaving only a small hole for the passage of urine and menstrual blood. This is usually done on young girls around the time of beginning puberty, to ensure chastity. It is usually linked with female circumcision, or removal of the clitoris and, usually, the labia minora as well, in order to render women theoretically less sexual. Female circumcision is often confused with infibulation. These practices are mostly confined to sub-Saharan Africa in Islamic cultures. They are usually performed without anesthetic and in unsanitary conditions, and without the consent of the victims. Many of the subjects of these practices have experienced severe infections and reproductive disorders as a result of these practices, and even death. Infibulation is usually reversed at the time of a girl's marriage by simply slicing her back open.

These practices have been widely condemned by other cultures as barbaric and cruel.

See also: child sexual abuse

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