Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, also called female circumcision is one of the most controversial topics in the world, preceding abortion and homosexuality.
A practice that has withstood the test of time, FGM has absolutely ”no health benefits” for the girls it’s been practiced on besides reducing their sexual interest. And that is not a benefit. *side eyes to those who think it is
It has been highlighted that FGM was practiced in the United Kingdom and United States by the Gynecologists to cure women of so-called “female weakness”. The practice of FGM continues within some communities in various form and even in the 20th century girls and women are still subjected to this harmful tradition.
In times past, FGM was done to hold or control a girl’s sexual appetite; that is still the reason it is widely practiced in many countries across the world including Asia, Canada, United Kingdom and Africa, today. Sexual control on a female child. These girls are cut between birth and their teenage years.
FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.
It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
Much like its counter part, Male Genital Mutilation; many who practice this act blame religion, or culture while some societies do not even know why it is done but carry it out regardless. FGM has neither been mentioned in the Quran nor Sunnah and even the Bible says ”circumcision is irrelevant”.
There are those who hold unto it, not for their own benefit or because they understand the pros (of which there is none) and cons but because it has been in their generation for a long time.
Alleged Origin Of FGM
It was believed that it was practiced in ancient Egypt as a sign of distinction amongst the aristocracy. Some believe it started during the slave trade when black slave women entered ancient Arab societies. Some believe FGM began with the arrival of Islam in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Some believe the practice developed independently among certain ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa as part of puberty rites. Overall, in the history, it was believed that FGM would ensure women’s virginity and reduction in the female desire.
Many commentators believe that the practice evolved from earliest times in primitive communities that wished to establish control over the sexual behaviour of women. The Romans performed a technique involving slipping of rings through the labia majora of female slaves to prevent them from becoming pregnant and the Scoptsi sect in Russia performed FGM to ensure virginity.
The practice is supported by traditional beliefs, values and attitudes. In some communities it is valued as a rite of passage to womanhood. (for example in Kenya and Sierra Leone) Others value it as a means of preserving a girl’s virginity until marriage, (for example in Sudan, Egypt, and Somalia) In most of these countries FGM is a pre-requisite to marriage and marriage is vital to a woman’s social and economic survival. It is believed by some African women that if their daughters are not circumcised would not get husband. This (FGM) harmful tradition has been guided by taboos from generation by generation.
FGM is rooted in culture and some believe it is done for religious reasons, but it has not been confined to a particular culture or religion. FGM has neither been mentioned in the Quran nor Sunnah. – FGM National Group
Many cultures who practice this act do so; out of ignorance of the adverse effect of FGM or loyalty to a tradition that was handed down to them.
While there are those who support FGM, their rationale is not on health benefits or the lack thereof but on handed-down tradition and the importance to keep culture going.
The question is ”what culture”?
Cultures that practice FGM, do this in four ways:
#1 Clitoridectomy: this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
#2 Excision: this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva ).
#3 Infibulation: this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy).
#4 All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
Deinfibulation refers to the practice of cutting open the sealed vaginal opening in a woman who has been infibulated, which is often necessary for improving health and well-being as well as to allow intercourse or to facilitate childbirth.
FGM occurs mainly in Western and Southern Asia, the middle east, and majority of Africa. Immigrant communities in France, Australia, Britain, Canada, USA have also been known to perpetuate the act despite it being illegal in those countries.
The female genital mutilation is done by removing healthy normal female genital tissue thereby causing damage to a useful part of the body; this act, greatly affects the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies. The severe the FGM procedure, the higher the risk.
An estimate of over three-million girls are mutilated every year, with more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrated.
Immediate complications can include:
Severe pain, Excessive bleeding (haemorrhage), Genital tissue swelling, Fever, Infections e.g., tetanus, Urinary problems, Wound healing problems, Injury to surrounding genital tissue, Shock, Death
Long-term complications can include:
Urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections), Vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections), Menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.), Scar tissue and keloid, Sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.), Increased risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, etc.) and newborn deaths.
Psychological problems (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, etc.) – World Health Organization, WHO.
There are countries where FGM was previously widely practiced that have made FGM illegal officially, and persistent perpetrators in countries like Senegal and Nigeria, now face jail-time; between one to five years.
Even with the threat of imprisonment, FGM is carried out within the family and out of the sight of officials and the young girls can not snitch on family.
Before taking a knife to your daughter’s vagina, ask yourself, ”Should I stick to handed-down tradition because of culture even at the detriment of my daughter’s health in future?”.
Photo Credit, CryingBlackGirl