“Genital Mutilation is also known as female circumcision. It involves the removal of the female clitoris, in an effort to dissuade sexual activity prior to marriage. Another practice in female genital mutilation involves sewing up a young girl’s vaginal opening, leaving room only for urination and menstruation.
Female circumcision is done at an early age–usually at birth or prior to puberty. Once done, the damage may be permanent; although some doctors have come up with means of correcting the damage.
Female circumcision is practiced for cultural and/or religious reasons, both of which are indicative of a patriarchal, traditional society where women are properties of male family members, and whose worth is determined by their virginal status, that which warrants the insurance need to practice the act of circumcision.(PS. There are some who argue that FGM predates organized religion).
Critics of the practice, which is common in African societies (Ethiopia, Sudan) and some Middle Eastern/Muslim countries, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, et al.
Critics argue that it’s an act of cruelty. Not only does it lead to painful sexual activity, but also health complications for the girl.
Amnesty International estimates that over 130 million women worldwide have been affected by some form of FGM, with over 3 million girls at risk of undergoing FGM every year.
Some health consequences of FGM are:
- The procedure can lead to death through shock from excessive bleeding. The failure to use sterile medical instruments may lead to infections.
- Urinary and reproductive tract infections, caused by obstructed flow of urine and menstrual blood.
- Various forms of scarring
- Epidermal inclusion cysts may form and expand
The UN has designated February 6, the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Mutilation.