Imagine being taken to a dark room. Imagine being pinned down on the floor. Imagine your underwear being taken off. Imagine seeing a knife or blade being heated on the gas stove. Imagine the same hot knife or blade slicing your clitoris. Imagine young girls shrieking in pain. This horrific practice is known as FGM.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or another injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers often without anesthetic, putting girls at risk of potentially fatal infections- often using scissors, razor blades, broken glass, and tin. More than half of those who have undergone it live in just three countries — Indonesia, Egypt, and Ethiopia.
In most countries, the majority of girls subjected to the practice are younger than 5 years. More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 30 countries. This number excludes the countless numbers who die during the procedure.
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About one-fourth of all cases worldwide were girls under the age of 14. Even though the practice is illegal in many countries, many communities consider the practice part of their cultural traditions and continue performing it. The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries the Middle East and Asia, as well as among migrants from these areas. Female genital mutilation is, therefore, a global concern.
It’s not just being practiced in tribal societies. Young girls aged six and seven are regularly being cut right here, in India.
Masooma and Aarefa (Both from Mumbai) were both cut because their mothers were pressured into taking their daughters to Bhindi Bazaar in Mumbai by older women in the family; either by aunts or mothers-in-law. The belief is that the clitoral head is ‘unwanted skin’, that it is a ‘source of sin’ that will make them ‘stray’ out of their marriages.
The sad truth to this painful process is the fact that it is a practice being done to women by other women. This abuse leaves women physically, psychologically and sexually damaged.
FMG is often performed in conditions that lack proper hygiene, supplies, and medications. As a result, the girls and women suffer infections, painful scarring, long-term disabilities and in some cases even death.
The practice is carried out in some parts of the world under the belief it makes girls purer and eligible to marry. It is violating the human rights of girls and women. And it causes severe pain, excessive bleeding (hemorrhage), genital tissue swelling ,fever, infections, urinary problems, wound healing problems, injury to surrounding genital tissue, Shock, death.
Where it is believed that being cut increases marriageability, FGM is more likely to be carried out. FGM is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl, and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage. Local structures of power and authority, such as community leaders, religious leaders, circumcisers, and even some medical personnel can contribute to upholding the practice.
Why men oppose FGM more strongly than women.
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), has said that men, much more than ladies, oppose circumcision- even though it is indeed an act of violence against women. According to UNICEF research, more young men understand the fact that female genital mutilation has no advantage.
UNICEF says in an announcement:
“Information demonstrate that in a few nations men contradict FGM more emphatically than ladies,”
“In Guinea – the nation with the second most astounding pervasiveness on the planet – 38% of men and young men are against the continuation of FGM, contrasted with 21% of ladies and young ladies.
Some of the major support for ending FGM is actually coming from young boys. In Sierra Leone, for instance, 40 percent of boys between the ages of 15 and 19 are against the practice, while only 23% girls and ladies wants this to end.
As indicated by UNICEF, Guinea has the most striking contrast as far as men and ladies’ view of FGM, with 46% boys and men saying female circumcision has no advantage, contrasted and only 10% ladies and girls who say there are no advantages.
UNICEF says in nations like Nigeria, there is confirmation of endeavors and duty to end female circumcision.
“In 2015, both Gambia and Nigeria adopted national legislation criminalizing FGM. More than 1,900 communities, covering an estimated population of 5 million people, in the 16 countries where data exist, made public declarations to abandon FGM,” the organization said.
“The sustainable development goals adopted by the UN General assembly in September 2015 include a target calling for the elimination of all harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage by 2030.”
“Although female genital mutilation is associated with gender discrimination, our findings show that the majority of boys and men are actually against it,” – Francesca Moneti, UNICEF senior child protection specialist.
According to the organization, there is a major connection between a mother’s education and her kid’s circumcision. Women take it as a social duty to get acceptance in their community. They feel obliged to maintain the convention and aren’t actually mindful of what number of men are really against it.
According to Francesca Moneti, Unicef’s senior child protection specialist:
“Historically FGM was seen as women’s business, and men, when asked, would say it’s not their business….. Now that it’s in the public discussion, they are aware of the harms of cutting, and in some countries, you now have more men against it.”
Numerous young ladies, there still feel overwhelming social pressure and dread that not getting circumcision could make them miss out on marriage prospects, as per a recent U.N. report.
A story of FGM survivor.
Woman Who Underwent Female Genital Mutilation Comes Forward to Help Others.
She has revealed her terrifying ordeal after she was forced to undergo the procedure without an anesthesia when she was just 11-years-old. The women who were there for the cut said that we shouldn’t be afraid because it’s a taboo.
They told us that we would not feel pain if we would not cry. They told us that if we would scream, our entire family would be put to shame. They told us to be silent and look at the ground. I didn’t know where in the body I was going to be cut. I just saw it in that moment, when I was there and when the first girl got cut. When I saw what it actually meant, I thought it was something bad. I thought to myself that this was something unwanted.
I felt that it was bad and something that’s not supposed to be done. The first girl was cut. Then they covered her with a scarf and left her there. Then they did the same thing to the next person. ‘When I was cut, blood flew. I felt pain. I was so stressed out because this is something I didn’t choose.’ ‘I got wrapped in a sheep skin.
They tied our legs with torn clothes close to the thighs. We sat on the stones for an hour and then they took all of us to a bush where they constructed something small, like a house.’ She said that her ordeal was far from over after FGM. She was forced to marry an older man soon after. Her husband forced her into having sex when she was just 12 and not even fully recovered from FGM.
One fine day she gathered the strength and ran away along with her daughter. After escaping with her daughter, and found support from the charity Action Aid, who have a women’s network in Kongelai. She said the charity’s help has been invaluable to her as she tries to move on and build a new life for her and her daughter.
‘Action Aid gives us hope and strength – I feel really hopeful. I have learned that I have the right not to accept FGM and anything to do with FGM.’
The practice was made illegal in Kenya in 2011 but it carries on behind closed doors even today.
What’s your views on FGM, let us know in the comment section below.