Female Genital Mutilation: Abuse, Not Custom
According to the World
Health Organization, www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/, female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises 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. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of
the human rights of girls. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination
against females. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also
violates a girl child’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
is primarily performed on girls ages 4 to 14, although in some countries it is done to infants. It involves removing a girl’s
clitoris and often other external genitalia. www.stopfgmc.org/client/sheet.aspx?root=158&sheet=2437&lang=en-US. FGM is done out of beliefs that it controls a women's sexuality, enhances fertility, serves as initiation into womanhood,
or is required by religion, although Muslim and Christian leaders have denounced it. Countries where more than fifty percent
of girls and women ages 15 to 49 are mutilated include: Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea,
Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan (north). Countries where ten to fifty percent of females ages 15 to 49 are
mutilated include: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania
is an invasive, painful and non-medical surgical procedure that is often performed on prepubescent girls without anesthesia.
An average of about four girls a minute continue to be mutilated. Their prepuce is removed and their clitoris partially or
completely removed. In some traditions, the operation is far more invasive: the labia minora is surgically removed and the
labia majora is sewn together, covering the urethra and vagina. A small opening is retained for the passage of urine and menstrual
fluid. www.religioustolerance.org/fem_circ.htm. The result is that sexual feelings are either inhibited or terminated. Sexual intercourse is often extremely painful for
the woman afterwards. Childbirth often involves a Caesarian section.
has been a social custom in Northern Africa for millennia. Many people wrongly associate FGM with the religion of Islam. Actually,
it is a social custom that is practiced by Animists, Christians and Muslims in those countries where FGM is common. In many
Muslim countries practice of this mutilation is essentially unknown, including Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Pakistan and Saudi
has no health benefits and it harms girls in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital
tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ bodies. www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/.
complications of FGM include severe pain, shock, hemorrhage, tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open
sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue. Long-term consequences of FGM include:
- recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections;
- the need for later surgeries; and
- an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
one time in the course of human history, slavery was considered normal and acceptable, but not anymore. Apartheid was also
once accepted in South Africa as it was sanctioned by the rule of law, but not anymore. Why was slavery and apartheid abolished?
Because standards of decency evolved that informed people that these once socially accepted practices were inherently evil.
there is something more repulsive than slavery and apartheid that still continues to be practiced every day in civilized society
and that is female genital mutilation. No one should be allowed to maim a girl child in the name of religion, custom or tradition.
It is time to stop this inhumane, barbaric and violent practice so that millions of girl children do not have to suffer the
worst form of child abuse in the world.
Joseph is a computer hardware engineer who lives in Bangalore, India, with his wife and two daughters. He began writing in May 2008. He placed 40th out of 17,056
entries in ten categories in the Writer’s Digest 77th Annual Writing Competition in the Mainstream/Literary Short Story
Category. He placed as a Finalist twice, as a Semi-Finalist and as Honorable
Mention in humor writing on Humorpress.com. He placed 5th in the Second Annual
Amazing Story Fiction Contest and 2nd in the Nonfiction Contest, both held on The Write Helper.com. His poems and essays have been featured in New Plains Review, Inscribed, Perspectives
Magazine and A Golden Place. Most recently, he placed 17th out
of an expected 4,000+ entries in the 4th Annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards.