FGM!!! Tradition or Mutilation??

Female genital mutilation is a culture practice which is mistaken as a religious practice.  It is estimated 2 million women have had this procedure perform against their will through the years.  This procedure is still performed today throughout Africa, Middle Eastern countries, South America, parts of Asia and Europe.  Female genital mutilation is usually performed between the ages of 3 and 18 or before the birth of the victim’s first child. It is usually performed by someone in the village with high status such as a village elder woman, mid-wife or in some cases, when families have the money, a medical professional.  Only about 5% of women have this procedure done by a medical professional in a medical facility.   These women are the lucky ones, a sterile environment and anesthesia, pain medication and 24 hour medical care.   The other 95 % are not as lucky.

Villagers have long believed this procedure is necessary in order for a girl to become a woman.  These taboos have been passed down from generation to generation, mother to daughter, sister to friend.  The clitoris and labia are preserved as male parts and in their view need to be removed so it can bring more beauty to the woman’s face and body, she can become more pleasant and sexual in the eyes of her husband.  It is believed that if a woman does not have the genital circumcision she will be unclean and not be able to touch food or water.  The genital circumcision will also prevent the woman from being promiscuous so the husband is assured she is a virgin when she marries and it prevents the woman from having marital affairs.  It is also thought if the clitoris touches the husband during intercourse, her husband will die or his penis will fall off.  If the woman gives birth and still has her clitoris, when it touches the head of the baby, the baby will die and or the breast milk will become poisonous.    It is also said to help relieve “woman stresses”, otherwise known as puberty.  Like a dog going to the vet to get neutered, female genital mutilation is said to calm the women down so she won’t cause problems to her husband while she going through her natural body changes that come with age.

As mentioned earlier, the other 95% of the women don’t have the option to have the genital mutilation performed in a hospital or clinic, nor can the family afford to buy sterile medical equipment.  Instead, these girls, whether at home or on the village streets, have the female genital mutilation performed with a dirty razor blade, a  piece of glass sharpened just for this occasion, homemade knives, scissors or sometimes anything they can find on the streets.  Almost always there is no time to clean the tools being used since the girls are caught off guard, and they don’t want to give her the opportunity to escape and flee. 

Once the mutilation is complete, the girl is made to get up off the ground and walk to her home without assistance.  She is not to show fear or emotion.  If she cry’s while this horrific act is being committed, it is a sign of weakness and is labeled not a good wife.  The odds of her to find a husband are very low to none.  When the girl reaches her home her wound is packed with a mixture of herbs to help with the infection and clay to act as an adhesive.  Her legs are then bound with some king of rope and made to lay there for 40 days.  She is not to be assisted at any time; she sits in her own urine and feces.  Because the procedure is conducted with unclean tools and in a dirty environment, infection is inevitable.  The 70% of the women die due to complications of the violent thrust and stabs to the skin, severe loss of blood and or the area getting infected.  Sometimes the women develop tumors in the vaginal area that later become cancerous and she eventually will die.  There is no such thing as aftercare, or reconstruction surgery.  If the woman does survive, the women can suffer from vaginal deformities that produce extreme scar tissue in the vaginal area.   In these cases, no man wants to marry her because the vagina is not pleasant to see or touch.  These women then becomes an out casts from the village, no one in the immediate and surrounding villages are allowed to speak to her or help her.  They are not allowed to eat from the village crops or drink from their river and lakes, in fear their misfortune, which is a deformed vagina, will spread through the food and water so she eventually is left to die.

Amnesty International has recognized “Female Genital Mutilation” as a human rights violation and an act of female discrimination.  They have brought this to the attention of the United Nations in hopes to help rid of this brutality around the world against women.  Amnesty International conducts annual conferences informing the world of this practice that is still being practiced today and present ways of eliminating this cultural violence.  They have come up with alternative programs that can replace female genital mutilation, so this organization goes from village to village educating the locals in hopes of one day eliminating FMG. 

All countries participating in the United Nations provide amnesty to those women fleeing from their country that condones female genital mutilation.  Once these women flee, they can never return to their mother land or their families.  If they do try to return, they can or will be killed by their blood relatives for defying authority and going against village law.  The UN or Amnesty International cannot intervene with those countries, cannot change the laws within a country participating in female genital mutilation nor can they stop this practice in those country, they can only educate and present alternative means the those counties that condone the practice

We, as in today’s society, know this practice is unnecessary, so how do we eliminate Female Genital Mutilation from being performed today……Education is the key.


About izzo1309

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4 Responses to FGM!!! Tradition or Mutilation??

  1. One of the difficulties anthropologists and Non-Governmental Organizations, like Amnesty International, face in forwarding an agenda of human rights is negotiating the fine line between improving people’s lives and imposing your own cultural beliefs on others. FGM is a classic example of this debate. What is the difference, really, between eliminating a violent act such as this and saying, “Your cultural beliefs are dumb, you should be more like me”?

    So yeah, we need to advocate for human rights, but we also need to think carefully about what are the ethical basis and motivations for doing so. Not easy.

    • izzo1309 says:

      I agree to a point. If we sit back and watch does that mean we condone what is going on? We could also assist with providing clean tools, medication and a germ free environment, wouldn’t it be just like giving clean needles to an addict. As a society we should not go in thinking we are right and they are wrong. Education is the key!! After that it’s all up to them.

  2. hallokeri says:

    You mention that FGM is mistaken as a religious practice. Do you think it’s coincidental that countries that practice this also have some of the highest rates of religiosity in the world? I think their religion is the reason this is practiced, versus places such as countries in Europe which have banned FGM. Europe has some of the lowest rates of religiosity in the world and continually declines in that aspect, while also promoting human rights.

    • izzo1309 says:

      I would say at the beginning religion played a part in the start of this process but there is no proof in that. Today FGM is as automatic just as male circumcisions in some countries. Although many countries have banned FMG practice, such as Europe and the U.S., it is still preformed. We need to educate and hope that one day we can eliminate FGM for good.

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