Female Circumcision or Female Genital Mutilation involves an elderly or other community member slicing off all part of a woman’s clitoris and labia as part of a ceremony that is often conducted around the time that the woman reaches puberty.
Now isn’t it horrible, even to think of a small cut in our body and just imagine the cutting of genital parts with a razor without anesthesia. Well in 8 countries, almost all young girls are cut. In Somalia, the prevalence is 98%, in Djibouti 93% and in Egypt, in spite of its partly westernized image, 91%. In Eritrea and Mali the figure is 89% and a prevalence of 88% was reported in both Sierra Leone and Sudan.
Though in some countries, FGM, as it is abbreviated, has been medicalised. In Egypt, most of the cutting is undertaken by trained health care professionals, which reduces the risk of infection, pain and bleeding. But in some of the tribal remote areas women go to the dispensary the day before and they antibiotics and anti-tetanus injection. They would afford a clean disposable razor. Before they had a traditional knife that was used, but they stopped using that, and now every girl after her puberty or the brides has her own clean razor.
1. Sunna circumcision (Type I)- The word “sunna” refers to Muhammad’s early tradition of the practice. Here the tip of the woman’s clitoris is shaved or cut off, found in many countries in both East and West Africa, and in countries in the Middle East.
2. Clitoridectomy (Type II)- They cut off the partial or entire clitoris and the inner labia. Clitoridectomics most often occur in places where Infibulation (or Type III) has been banned
3. Infibulation or pharaonic Circumcision (Type III)- This most drastic form of FGM is the removal of the clitoris and labia, with the remaining skin stretched across the vagina from both the sides and stitched together with either thread, thorns or catgut. This leaves only a small opening through which the woman can urinate, and which menstrual blood can come through.
A woman with this structure has sewn shut vagina opened as to allow her to have intercourse with her new husband, and then have it sewn back up in order to maintain that she is loyal to her husband.
There are many physical and psychological problems that a woman may face after having any of these three types of FGM. They may suffer extreme amount of pain as the surgery is often performed without anesthesia. Women may experience extreme blood loss, as well as high infection rates, pregnancy conflicts, psychological damage among many others including HIV. A report states that 1/3 of the Sudanese girls who undergo the surgery do not survive it.
The surgery has lasting effects on woman and the pains that a woman goes through after her surgery are often referred to as the “three feminine sorrows”. Imagine the vagina reopened on the night of her marriage and the day she gives birth to a child.
Now questions regarding the reasons of this cruel practice of FGM must have popped in our mind. Well there are several reasons that their people provide to justify this practice.
They do it to control over woman’s sexuality as it is assumed that after FGM a woman’s sexual desire is reduced and has less temptation to have extramarital sex thereby preserving a girl’s virginity. There is a belief among some people that female genitalia are unsightly and dirty and thus FGM is practiced to enhance hygiene.
FGM is often deemed necessary in order for a girl to be considered a complete woman, in addition to this in certain communities, where mutilation is carried out as a part of the initiation into adulthood, FGM defines who belongs to the community. FGM predates Islam and is not practiced by the majority of Muslims but it has acquired a religious dimension. FGM also occurs among Christians, animists and Jews.
But in some countries, it does appear that the number of girls who have been cut is slowly reducing. The UN population fund and Unicef, the UN children’s fund say 8,000 communities in Africa have agreed to abandon the traditional practice. They have been involved in supporting awareness of the health and human right issues. Parents everywhere now want to assure the future for their girls. They want to make sure their children are going to be okay moving forward, a lot of refugees very quickly realize that the well-being of their girls is not best assured by continuing female circumcision, in fact they want them to go to college.
The future for their girls might not be best secured by circumcised any longer and thanks to the organizations that has helped millions of girls to recover from FGM. Movies are also released regarding FGM and their consequences, best examples are Desert flower(2009) and Moolade(2004)..