Home » Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation

As you are reading this article, there are between eight and ten million women and girls in the Middle East and in Africa who are at risk of undergoing one form or another of genital cutting. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision, or female genital cutting, has been practiced for several thousand years in almost 30 African and Middle Eastern nations. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates between 100 and 132 million women and girls worldwide have been subjected to FGM and an estimated 2 million are at risk each year.

Every day innocent girls go through excruciating pain everyday without even knowing why. Some die and others are cursed to live a life full of health complications. But where is this practiced and what exactly is FGM? FGM currently occurs in 28 African countries and is found among some ethnic groups is Yemen, Oman, and the United Emirates, as well as parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. Within practicing African countries, prevalence ranges from 5% to almost 100% of women affected (Female Genital Mutilation).

There are also increasingly found in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the USA, primarily among immigrants from these countries. FGM is illegal in most western countries, and , now, in many African nations, although laws are ignored and it is still practiced, either secretly in private homes or clinics, or by sending unsuspecting girls back to the parent’s home country for a “vacation”, to get circumcised. FGM involves the removal of genital tissues from girls and it is performed in different ways, depending on the culture or location where it takes place.

There are 4 different types of FGM that are practiced throughout the world today. Table 1 lists the 4 types of FGM and a brief description of each. In the Nursing magazine, Margaret Brady mentions how that out of all, Inbulation is the type of FGM most often performed in African countries- usually by untrained women working under primitive conditions and without anesthesia. The cutting instrument may be a razor blade, scissors, kitchen knife, or a piece of broken glass.

Thorns, catgut, or horsehair may be used to hold the raw skin edges together. The same un-sterilized instruments may be used for many procedures, so blood borne pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus and Hepatitis B virus are easily transmitted (50-51). When women have their babies, they have to be cut open and then sewn up again. Side effects of this operation include hemorrhage, shock, urine retentions, urinary infections, etc. FGM has long-term physiological, sexual, and psychological effects (FGM ).

Descriptions of this procedure are horrible to describe because it just innocent girls who have no idea what is going on that get awaken in the middle of the night at dawn and left off to some place in a yard. “Here she is surrounded by the other adult women who hold her down to the bare ground. She is confused, frightened and shocked all at once when the operator approaches and cuts into her genitals. The struggle that follows compares to that of a trapped animal. She screams and struggles until she is exhausted.

There is a piercing pain and agony with every bloody cut in some settings, dust and ashes may be used to stop the bleeding and help healing’ and then they shut the girl’s legs together (Female 40). ” FGM is usually carried out by male traditional healers, traditional birth attendants or elderly women in some rural communities. It’s a shame for these girls and women to have to go through so much pain and to then have to face a life full of health problems. But why?? Table 1 4 Types of Female Genital Mutilation Type of FGM Description

Sunna Circumcision The first and mildest type of FGM. The term “Sunna” refers to the tradition as taught by the prophet Muhammad. This is the process in which the tips of the clitoris and/or its covering (prepuce) are removed. Clitoridectomy The second type of FGM involves the entire removal of the clitoris, as well as the labia minora and majora. Infibulation or Pharanoic the third type of FGM is basically Circumcision Clitoridectomy followed by sewing up of the vulva secured with thorns, catgut, or thread. A small opening is kept to allow the passage of urine and menstrual blood.

On the wedding night the woman is cut open to allowintercourse and then closed again afterwards to secure fidelity to the husband. Pricking or burning this type of FGM consists of pricking, piercing, or incising of the clitoris and labia; stretching or cauterization by burning the clitoris and surrounding tissue. Source: Female genital Mutilation in Africa, the Middle East, & Far East.. 3 Mar. 2002 . Even though FGM is often confused to be a religious practice, it is actually more of a cultural one. It originated in Africa and remains today mainly an African cultural practice.

The reasons to why this practice takes place are a complicated mix of religious and cultural beliefs, such as, that of an uncircumcised girl is unclean and unworthy of a husband. In fact, one of the major reasons for FGM, Brady states, is “to diminish female sexuality and to ensure virginity and chastity before marriage and fidelity afterward (50). ” That is why uncircumcised women in countries where FGM is normally practiced have problems finding a marriage partner. Men will prefer a circumcised wife because they are considered to most likely be faithful.

There are many rumors and beliefs among cultures that are used to justify FGM. A girl who does not have her clitoris removed is considered a great danger and ultimately fatal to a man if her clitoris touches his penis. “The clitoris is believed to be a poisonous organ that can cause a man to sicken or die if it comes in contact with his penis. Others believe that men can became impotent by contacting a clitoris, or that a baby will be born mentally ill if its head contacts the clitoris during birth” (FMG). I don’t understand why women’s body parts considered a danger to men, why aren’t men’s penises considered a danger to women?

Why don’t men go through some kind of infibulation? It’s because most of these cultures are patriarchal and men want to be in control even of their women’s sexual life. One of the main reasons why FGM is done is so that women will not be promiscuous, because if they try to be, they will undergo pain every time they have sex. Since men will not marry any uncircumcised women, they have no choice but to get this painful operation done if they want to have a husband, or if not they have to face a life of isolation from the whole tribe.

They aren’t properly educated so they believe everything they are told. Some cultures have traditions where FGM is celebrated, girls are given gifts and a ceremony is held for them now that they have become clean, women. To these girl FGM is an honor and part of their everyday life, and the fact that they don’t know they are hurting themselves is a sad situation. For parents, I would imagine that their reasons for following through with this practice range from fear for the daughter’s marital future and honor, to traditionalism and pressure by older relatives and the community.

It must be understood that most parents feel strongly that having their daughter circumcised was healthy and in her best interests. It must be further understood that, for many women who have undergone FGM, it was an important rite of passage in their lives, which they underwent with dignity as their mothers and great-grandmothers before them, to enhance their social, adult status. In cultures where the opportunities for women are to be honored, celebrated or recognized are few, and circumcision becomes something they look up to in their lives, in spite of the pain it brings.

I believe that awareness of the effects of this procedure could reduce the number of the thousands of girls who are harmed daily. Maybe if parents would start to realize how much they are hurting their child they could maybe work together to form a circumcision-free community, which would probably expand with time. There are FGM countries where global pressure has caused them to ban this operation. There are organizations such as UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO) working globally to bring this injustice to women to an end.

But it’s a difficult task because people will not just want to give up their cultural traditions. Many times foreigners may be appalled at what they witness of western culture and it would probably make them more determined than ever to keep their old traditions. There has been some progress, since as seen in Nursing magazine, Margaret Brady states how “Sweden outlawed FGM in 1982, and the United Kingdom passed a several law in 1985. France, Switzerland, Kenya, and Senegal have also banned the practice as well, and in Canada, the procedure is outlawed as a human rights violation.

On September 30, 1996, the US Congress passed legislation making practicing FGM on girls under 18 a federal criminal offense (51). ” Even though some effort is being made to abolish FGM worldwide, we still have a long way to go and as I previously mentioned, the key is awareness. Education of ourselves as well as of others is a way that we can begin acting upon the fact that violation of human rights and injustices against women should not be tolerated. Many people still remain unaware of existence of FGM and the reality that it is still widely practiced. And awareness can be a starting point in bringing this inhumane practice to an end.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Leave a Comment