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The Horrible Facts About Female Genital Mutilation

The gruesome practice of FGM (female genital mutilation) is still a critical issue that must be addressed

The World Heath Organization vehemently opposes the practice of female circumcision, more appropriately named female genital mutilation (FGM). Unlike male circumcision, this procedure has no health benefits. FGM removes all or part of the female genitalia. An estimated 100-140 million girls and women worldwide, are living with the consequences of FGM. More than 3 million girls are at risk for FGM each year on the African continent alone.

FGM is considered a rite of clealiness

According to UNICEF, cultures justify the female circumcision due to one or more of the following reasons.

  • Sexual: to control or reduce female sexuality.
  • Sociological: as an initiation for girls into womanhood, social integration, and to maintain social cohesion.
  • Hygiene and aesthetic reasons: some cultures believe female genitalia is dirty and unsightly.
  • Health: the irrational belief that FGM enhances fertility and child survival.
  • Religious reasons: many cultures mistakenly believe FGM is sanctioned by a belief system.

Parents often make the decision for female babies, who have no say as to whether or not they want the procedure. Other young women choose FGM as a rite of passage so they will be “clean.” There are other instances in which a woman will opt for FGM the night after her wedding at the insistence of her husband. Whatever the reason, the procedure causes women and girls irreparable harm.

  • Recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections
  • Cysts
  • Infertility
  • Increase the need for later surgeries

An FGM procedure which seals or narrows a vaginal opening must later be cut open to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth. The woman endures repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing both immediate and long-term risks.

  • an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths;
  • Shock induced by the severe pain, psychological trauma and exhaustion from screaming.
    Other serious health issues include:

    • failure to heal from the procedure
    • abscess formation
    • excessive growth of scar tissue
    • urinary tract infection
    • painful sexual intercourse
    • increased susceptibility to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases
    • reproductive tract infection
    • pelvic inflammatory diseases
    • infertility
    • painful menstruation
    • chronic urinary tract obstruction/ bladder stones
    • urinary incontinence
    • obstructed labor
    • increased risk of bleeding and infection during childbirth.
  • death from severe bleeding leading to hemorrhagic and neurological shock as a result of pain and trauma. Many girls suffer severe, overwhelming septicemia.

Young girl after FGM

Agnes Pareyio, a women’s rights activist, has undergone the FGM: She made it her goal to end female circumcision in her lifetime, and is one of the fiercest Kenyan activists. Here is her story.

It was 1970 and I was only 14 years old when, coming home from school one evening, I saw a group of people engaging in a huge feast in my home village… I asked my mother what was happening and why they were holding the party. She told me that it was for me and my sister because we were about to be initiated into adulthood.

“You are going to be women,” she said excitedly.

She told us that we would undergo “Emuratare,” the ceremony that initiates young Maasai girls into adulthood through ritual circumcision and then into early arranged marriages. I was both horrified and outraged…

I told Mom to tell my father that I was not going to be circumcised. She was furious with me but I stood my ground. My father supported my idea of not facing the knife, though this was usually not the norm. His decision infuriated my mother and I became a pariah. Even my elder sister and my so-called friends started calling me “coward.”

The social pressure and the mockery from my age mates became so excruciatingly intense that I finally gave in. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was not the baby they thought I was.

The initiation ceremony started the same night I announced I would get circumcised. A pot full of cold water was placed outside the “manyatta” (Maasai farmhouse) with an iron axe inside the pot. The pot had to stay outside overnight for the water to get as cold as it can get in Kenya.

My sister and I slept in the same hut where the bloody rite would take place. The circumciser joined us. At the crack of dawn, the doors were opened up and the ice-cold water from the pot was poured on our bodies to prevent excessive bleeding. I sat down with one woman holding me from the back, her arms pinning my hands to my body while two other women tightly stretched out and pinned my legs to the ground.

My peers milled around waiting with bated breath to see whether the coward was going to scream and wince in pain. I was determined to disappoint them and prove them wrong.

The circumciser approached me menacingly waving the blade in front of my face. She gorged out my clitoris and the labia majora and minora as I almost fainted. She then inserted two fingers into the fresh wound to make sure that the work was complete and that was nothing left.

FGM woman reading for procedure

When a French doctor, Jacques Lantier, attended an FGM procedure in Somalia he described how the labia majora and minora were separated and attached to each thigh using large thorns.

With her kitchen knife the woman then pierces and slices open the hood of the clitoris and then begins to cut it out. While another woman wipes off the blood with a rag, the operator digs with her fingernail a hole the length of the clitoris to detach and pull out that organ. The little girls scream in extreme pain, but no one pays the slightest attention.

After removing the clitoris with the knife, the woman lifts up the skin that is left with her thumb and index finger to remove the remaining flesh. She then digs a deep hole amidst the gushing blood. The neighbor women who take part in the operation then plunge their fingers into the bloody hole to verify that every remnant of the clitoris is removed.

The practice ensures a woman’s subordination to a man. Female circumcision is performed so women remain chaste. Men in certain cultures believe that performing FGM cuts off a woman’s potential to cheat and feels his wife is not shaming him by because she won’t want sex with other men. After FGM, sexual desire is eliminated.

Some men feel circumcision is mutilation; however, women who experience FGM suffer far more pain and long-term health issues that plague them for the rest of their lives.

What are your thoughts on FGM?

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Posted by on September 10, 2011. Filed under Commentary,COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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10 Responses to The Horrible Facts About Female Genital Mutilation

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  2. i.k.a Reply

    February 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

    what a horrible and sensless practice? i percieve them doing this as a retaliation to such treatment they receive before.

  3. Sofia Mohamed Reply

    July 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I am Somalia and I had to go through this pain too. The pain is extreme and I couldn’t use the bathroom for a week. The way that mine happen was thatmy grandmother tricked me into it. She toold me we were going somewhere and did my hair and got me new clothes. Then she said to wait, and 2 men came in with a knife and bowl for the blood. I was pinned to the ground, my mouth was duck taped, my arms and feet were tied. The pain is too extreme to describe. I wanted everyone to know my story.
    Don’t trust ANYONE! Not even your relatives that you just met!!
    ~Sofia

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      July 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks for sharing that terrible story Sofia. A cautionary tale indeed.

  4. dp1053 Reply

    September 11, 2011 at 11:45 am

    It is not surprising to me that these pracitices are commited in countries where the males are free or even expected to spread their seed at will. Just like certain countries that wrap their women from head to toe because the MEN cannot control their impulses. Why are women condemned to pay the price because men cannot practice self-control?

    • Sophia Moore Reply

      September 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      Why do women allow themselves to continue to be mistreated? Somewhere along the way, with all the technology and worldwide communication at our fingertips, enough of them can lead the less well informed out of their lives of servitude. All it takes is a revolution. Women in Saudi are driving cars now. How can they be stopped if they all decide to drive? Revolt ladies. You can do it. Stop being things. Be who you can be.
      We women have brains…and they are not in our scrotum.

  5. Dorothy Anderson Reply

    September 11, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Thanks for the comments. Sophia, the practice is so widespread, that it’s almost impossible to stop. If one country outlaws FGM, parents will take their babies and young girls to another country which allows the practice.

    I found pictures of the actual process: they were too horrific to post.

    Here are some links… there are many, many more.

    An Islamic woman describes the type of FGM sanctioned by the Qu’ran. http://insideislam.wisc.edu/index.php/archives/7105

    Her opinion is not shared by many Muslims. From Alternet: http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/mauritanian-muslim-imams-initiate-rare-ban-on-female-circumcision

    Koranic scholars have proclaimed FGM incompatible with the Islamic religion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUJoXl7KRk8&feature=related

    ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’, — Dr. Mustafa Zalmi, a leading Kurdish Shariah law expert, has said female circumcision, known internationally by women’s advocates as female genital mutilation (FGM), is forbidden and that he is willing to face anybody who disagrees. According to 11 verses of the Quran, female circumcision is forbidden. FGM is not practiced in Mecca or Medina, and the Kurds have taken Islam from [the culture of] these places, so why do we have FGM in Kurdistan?” said Zalmi.

    http://www.ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2011/2/state4606.htm

    An Islamic scholar authored this article, stating the Qu’ran does not require females–or males–be circumcised. http://www.rahima.or.id/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=712:female-circumcision-tafsir-27th-edition&catid=62:tafsir&Itemid=375

  6. Sophia Moore Reply

    September 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    It’s all I can do not to throw up while reading this.
    Why on earth has nothing been done to totally and immediately eradicate this insane, inhumane, disgusting, prehistoric practice. Surely there are things these braindead imbeciles can be offered as bribes to cease and desist mutilating their daughters. I had read David Bowie’s wife was an activist. So what’s happening with that?

  7. Holte Ender Reply

    September 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I get so mad when I read of this continuing ritual. Barbaric.

  8. JackieMackey Reply

    September 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    This is an excellent presentation of a terrible practice. It makes me sick – those poor girls.

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