FGM – Break The Taboo And Claim Back What’s Rightfully Ours
**Reader warning: This article contains graphic details and may cause stress to the reader – regarding the topic of FGM and the effects it has**
You may have heard about FGM – The barbaric practice of female circumcision. Recently, it has dominated American news due to an investigation from February, uncovering the FGM ‘doctors’ in Michigan. Female Genital Mutilation is when the genitals are cut, modified, or changed to keep women pure and chaste. There are many types of FGM, but all are a terrifying experience, becoming even deadly.
UNICEF estimated that in 2016, 200 million women living today in 30 different countries (27 being in Africa) have undergone FGM. Now, that is an astounding figure from just several countries. In situations like this, many cases of FGM go unreported, so the number is expected to be much higher
FGM can happen at any time, from birth to when puberty begins. There is no age limit. The brutal practice stems from gender inequality, where it is believed that a woman’s honour needs to be protected and this vicious and merciless practice can apparently help keep a woman pure.FGM is practised in 30 countries in western, eastern, and north-eastern Africa, in parts of the Middle East and Asia, and within some immigrant communities in Europe, North America and Australia.
There are different types of FGM; we have type 1 to 3 and then other harmful procedures.
Type 1) consists of clitoridectomy – removing part or all the clitoris.
Type 2) is excision – removing part or the entire clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina), with/without removal of the labia majora (larger outer lips).
Type 3) consists of (infibulation) – narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia. Other harmful procedures are burning of the vaginal area, pricking, piercing and additional cutting.
Can you imagine being six years old and being told you’re going to the park and you end up strapped on a cold, metal table and undressed? Your mother is holding you down and a stranger has a sharp blade in their hand and start to perform the procedure. NO ANAESTHETIC. NO ANTISEPTIC. NO HYGIENIC PROCEDURES. NO TRAINING. THIS IS CHILD ABUSE.
Society and main stream media have skimmed over the effects and dangers to health that comes with FGM. The list is endless, from infections, due to a simple act of urinating, to mental trauma with high levels of PTSD – Post traumatic stress disorder. The images andrecollection of the cutting taking place, sleepless nights, anxiety, and a MAJOR lack of trust. FGM is supposedly done to merely please the man. However, the cruel practice often leads to childbirth complications, inability to have children and in severe cases, DEATH.
FGM is more commonly practiced in rural areas, compared to urban areas where more people are educated. This is a key point – showing the correlation between education and a girl’s future. If education is accessible, then the girl has the power to educate herself about her rights. Education allows parents and children to make better decisions and will be educated on matters such as FGM, child marriage and the likes. Therefore, getting basic education for all girls should be a high priority for countries where FGM is heavily practiced.
You may see reports pointing to religion as a cause for FGM. However, if you do your research, you will see that religion does not point to FGM. Some jurists in Islam say FGM should be done, however no clear transmission is given. The Bible and The New Testament have no mention of FGM and major Christian authorities have stated FGM has no place in Christianity. In Judaism, it also is forbidden to perform FGM. From this, one can see it is due to cultural beliefs and social constructs that FGM occurs.
If you are a student, you are one of the most powerful groups in society. Raise awareness at your university, college, high school. Hold talks, lectures, seminars. Talk to your peers. USE SOCIAL MEDIA. Break the taboo. I urge you to read actual experiences of FGM survivors, the traumatic and deadly situations they faced, on their wedding nights, their procedures and their lives now.
Yes, this is child abuse of the highest caliber. If you know someone who has experienced FGM, please help them. Help them piece their life together again. Support them and let them know you are there for them. The NHS in the UK can refer you to a specialist to deal with the brutal effects of FGM. Treatment called deinfibulation can be performed to open the vagina once again. Contact the Police or NSPCC if someone may be at risk. Talk to your GP for any worries related to FGM and for surgery advice.
Women and girls have the right to say NO to FGM. We have the rights over our own bodies, no one else. Let’s claim back that right and break the taboo.