Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice that started in Africa approximately 2000 years ago. It is primarily a cultural practice, not a religious practice. But some religions do include FGM as part of their practices. This practice is so well ingrained into these cultures; it defines members of these cultures. In order to eliminate the practice one must eliminate the cultural belief that a girl will not become a woman without this procedure.
What is Female Genital Mutilation?
Female Genital Mutilation is the term used for removal of all or just part of the external parts of the female genitalia. There are three varieties to this procedure.
In Africa 85% of FGM cases consist of Clitoridectomy and 15% of cases consist of Infibulation. In some cases only the hood is removed.
What is the age, the procedure used and the side effects?
The age the procedure is carried out varies from just after birth to some time during the first pregnancy, but most cases occur between the ages of four and eight. Most times this procedure is done with out the care of medically trained people, due to poverty and lack of medical facilities. The use of anesthesia is rare. The girl is held down by older women to prevent the girl from moving around. The instruments used by the mid-wife will vary and could include any of the following items; broken glass, a tin lid, razor blades, knives, scissors or any other sharp object. These items usually are not sterilized before or after usage. Once the genital area for removal is gone, the child is stitched up and her legs are bound for up to 40 days.
This procedure can cause various side effects on the girls which can include death. Some of the results of this procedure are serious infections, HIV, abscesses and small benign tumors, hemorrhages, shock, clitoral cysts. The long term effects may also include kidney stones, sterility, sexual dysfunction, depression, various urinary tract infections, various gynecological and obstetric problems.
In order to have sexual intercourse the women have to be opened up in some fashion and in some cases cutting is necessary. After child birth some women are re-infibulated to make them (tight) for their husbands.
Is this practice a cultural or religious practice?
In an FGM society, a girl can not be considered to be an adult until she has undergone this procedure. As well as in most cultures a women can not marry with out FGM. The type of procedure used will vary with certain conditions and these conditions could include the females ethic group, the country they live in, rural or urban areas, as well as their socioeconomic provenance.
FGM is a culture identity practice. The fact that the procedure helps to define who is the group, is obvious in cultures that carry out this procedure as an initiation into womanhood. Most FGM societies feel that unless a girl has this procedure done she is not a woman as well as removal of these practices would lead to the demise of their culture.
FGM have many claims of why this procedure should be done and these are as follows:
- In most FGM societies one important belief is that this procedure will reduce a women’s desire for sex and in doing so will reduce the chance of sex outside the marriage. This is vital to this society as her honor for the family is depended on her not to be opened up prior to marriage.
- Some view the clitoris and the labia as male parts on a female body, thus removal of these parts enhances the femininity of the girl.
- It is also believed that unless a female has undergone this procedure she is unclean and will not be allowed to handle food or water.
- Some groups believe that if the clitoris touches a man’s penis the man will die. As well as the belief that if a baby’s head touches the clitoris that the baby will die or the breast milk will be poisonous.
- The belief that an unmutilated female can not conceive, therefore the female should be militated in order to become fertile.
- Bad genital odors can only be eliminated by removing the clitoris and labia minora.
- Prevents vaginal cancer.
- An unmodified clitoris can lead to masturbation or lesbianism.
- Prevents nervousness from developing in girls and women.
- Prevents the face from turning yellow.
- Makes a woman’s face more beautiful.
- Older men may not be able to match their wives sex drive.
Intact clitoris will generate sexual arousal and in women if repressed can cause nervousness.
|Author:Paul Maingi Muriungi|