How would the world react if a child’s fingers were cut? But there is a kind of violence against girls that the world hides. In some societies like mine, it’s even praised. As millennials, we are always critical of things that are done from generation to generation yet we are silent about one. Maybe because is so much rooted in secrecy and myth. This is the last bit on my watch on cultural practices across Africa in the Winter ABC 2021 festival where I have been taking part passively and on the sidelines. So today I take a close critical look at Female Genital Mutilation FGM. A form of violence and gross abuse against girls and women. So you could be thinking it’s not my place to talk about the subject. But one day I have a dream of having a daughter, before that I have to marry and one of the reasons for FGM is to prepare a lady for her husband. I am not the kind that would wish to have a lady prepared for me through abuse and dehumanization.
Female Genital Mutilation takes very many forms, there people practicing it and don’t even know. FGM involves any kind of procedures that lead to the removal, reduction, lessening, and alteration of external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons according to WHO. I will not name the African countries where the practice takes place simply because it’s not just a few of them; it’s the whole continent that Mwene refers to as one big country. Note it is also practiced in other parts of the world but that cannot be an excuse for Africa.
Let’s talk about the types of FGM and they are four 4 of them. The 1st one is Clitoridectomy and in this form a partial or total removal of the external part of the clitoris and/or its prepuce. Clitoral hood. The 2nd type is known as excision, the external part of clitoris and labia minora are either partially or totally removed, with or without excision of the labia majora. The 3rd is known as infibulation or pharaonic type. The operation consists of narrowing the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and /or labia majora, with or without removal of external part of clitoris. The appositioning of the wound edges consists of stitching or holding the cut areas together for a certain period of time, to create the covering seal. A small opening is left for urine and menstrual blood to escape. The 4th this type involves all other procedures to the genitalia of women for non-medical purposes, such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, cauterization, and stretching.
All this pain is done under the scope of culture with ceremonies like the rites of passage for women. It is done in some cultures by traditional practitioners who use sharp objects such as knives, razor blades, and broken glass. In some places, it’s done by trained medical personnel. In the known 29 countries of, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. In all these countries FGM is supported by both men and women, usually without questioning it in fact, anyone that does not obey the culture may face blame and harassment. It is very difficult for people to renounce the practice without the backing of the whole society. That explains why it’s practiced even when it is known to cause hurt on girls because the anticipated social benefits of the practice are deemed higher than its disadvantages. Which is a big falsehood.
All the Psychosexual reasons, Sociological and cultural reasons, Hygiene and aesthetic reasons, Religious reasons, and Socioeconomic factors that are used to justify FGM are misconceptions.
There are many sudden effects of FGM entail serious pain and bleeding, shock, complication in passing urine, infections, injury to nearby genital tissue and sometimes death. The procedure can result in death through severe bleeding leading to haemorrhagic shock, neurogenic shock as a result of pain and trauma, and overwhelming infection and septicaemia, according to Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The most gravest is that FGM impacts on the right to dignity for a woman and directly conflicts with the right to physical innocence, as it involves the mutilation of healthy body parts. It takes away the humanity of ladies across the continent.