Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is one of the most horrifying practices I can think of. Circumcision has slowly become, in my mind, equally barbaric in some ways. Even when a male is circumcised, however (if the procedure is done 'correctly') he is still able to feel sexual pleasure (whether the pleasure is reduced or not is hard to prove). All FGMs seem to reduce or eliminate sexual pleasure.

There are several types of FGM -- the removal of parts of all of the female genitalia.
The majority of GMs performed in Africa are clitoridectomies or excisions. A clitoridectomy is when part of or all the clitoris is removed (for example, removing the clitoral hood, which is considered the least radical procedure). Excision is when part of or all of the labia minora are removed.

The least common and most several of mutilations is called infibulation, or pharaonic circumcision. It consists of clitoridectomy, excision and cutting of the labia majora, which are then stitched or held together to cover the vagina when healed. A small hole is left open to allow menstrual blood and urine to escape.

It's a cultural practice, not necessarily a religious ceremony. Girls are expected to undergo these procedures to be suitable wives. Because sexual pleasure and desire is reduced and eliminated, FGM is thought to help girls keep chaste and save themselves for their husbands. [The small openings must be gradually and painfully dilated, and sometimes cut, before intercourse. Often it must be cut again before childbirth, or else tearing can occur -- and women are often re-infibilutated after childbirth to make them 'tight' for their husbands. The tears, the unskillful cuts, and the re-cutting and re-stitching of women's genitals can result in tough scar tissue, infections, and increased risk of HIV transmissions.]

There is usually no anesthetic for the procedure and the girl is usually held down by older women to keep her still. FGM is often carried out using razor blades, scissors, a tin lid, broken glass, etc. Anything sharp enough to cut the skin. The open wounds are then stitched up (sometimes with thorns) and sometimes the legs are bound together for a period of time.

During the procedure, hemorraghes and organ damage can occur, not to mention pain and shock. Clitoridectomy and excision can cause discomfort and extreme pain, causing a multiple of problems, not the least of which is chronic urinary tract infections.

Infibulation can cause kidney damage, obstruct menstrual flow (and thus cause reproductive tract infections), pelvic infections, cysts, buildup of excessive scar tissue, and infertility.

Amnesty International
has a very informative page about the reasons why FGM is so pervasive...and it is very widespread.

"An estimated 135 million of the world's girls and women have undergone genital mutilation, and two million girls a year are at risk of mutilation - approximately 6,000 per day. It is practised extensively in Africa and is common in some countries in the Middle East. It also occurs, mainly among immigrant communities, in parts of Asia and the Pacific, North and Latin America and Europe. "

Check out the reasonings and ideas used to justify FGM as described by Amnesty International.


Post a Comment

<< Home