I decided to write my short blog post on female genital mutilation. I thought this topic directly related to our course especially since we just finished reading a few of the chapters from “Mother Nature” by Hrdy. Female genital mutilation directly reflects the relationship between women and their society. Female Genital Mutilation is defined as comprising of all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (who.int). Historically, women have performed the physical act of mutilation, and I thought this was very interesting since we have been discussing how a mother bonds with their children. In an article I read titled Africa:Nearly 2,000 African Communities Abandon Female Genital Mutilation…UN news reports that over 2,000 african communities have discontinued the tradition of female genital mutilation, I use the word “tradition”, because to me the word “tradition” has always been used in regards to positive acts, such as a “family tradition” of taking a holiday trip every year, or the “traditions’ my sorority has created. But in terms of how I used “tradition” in reference to female genital mutilation it is negative. Not all “traditions” are good.
This topic relates to our course but not only does it affect Africa which I chose to focus on but it also affects middle eastern countries, and the United States as well. As stated in the article, “These encouraging findings show that social norms and cultural practices are changing, and communities are uniting to protect the rights of girls and women,” said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin. According to the map I inserted above, the United States has also taken action to stop Female Genital Mutilation. As society and rights change, traditions also change. In the past female genital mutilation was important to most African societies, but as the world becomes more modern it isn’t as necessary to these societies anymore. According to the World Health Organization, Female Genital Mutilation
(FGM) is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.
There are many reasons why FGM was introduced and became a popular practice against women and children. In some culture it was considered a proper way of raising a girl and a way to prepare these girls for marriage and becoming an adult. However, there are no positive health reasons to have FGM performed on a woman. In most communities FGM is thought to reduce a woman’s libido so they will be able to resist sexual urges (WHO.int). Parts of the woman are also removed because it is thought to make the woman “clean” and “beautiful”.
As the article stated, many African Communities have gotten rid of the tradition of FGM. This is a huge step in the direction of equal rights for women in Africa. Unlike Africa, the United States is not as affected by this practice, but many states have made it criminlized to perform FGM, which also is a postive step in equality for women.
This topic is interesting because as we read in Hrdy’s book, Mother Nature, most mothers have a bond with their children. To think that a woman could perform FGM on their child is very hard to understand. But culturually that was a normal practice. These women performed this act because they thought they were helping their children prepare for adulthood. But as more women are being educated about how this practice is not beneficial, these acts are slowly being stopped. I think it really shows that mothers will do anything for their children to have the best life. Whether positive or negative, and it is up to society to make sure healthy steps are being taken, and to stop the negative, unhealthy acts from continuing.
Original Article: http://allafrica.com/stories/201202070272.html
World Health Organization Website: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/