Would it not cause great affliction if a part of your body is simply removed or if it is pierced and stitched for no genuine reason? Would you not be traumatized and deeply scarred by such abuse and violation of your own body? Then why are we silent about Female Genital Mutilation?
Leyla Hussein was a preadolescent when she had to undergo such agony. The Somali-British activist, writer, and licensed psychotherapist recollected the assault in a Youtube Video describing how she was pinned down to the table by other women as the flesh of her genitalia was cut. As the child screeched, she was met with an indignant response by the older women who were holding her down, “ You’ve been naughty. Behave yourself. It doesn’t hurt.”. The reasons for inflicting pain upon the hapless child were to ‘preserve her’ for her future husband; to ensure that a woman does not take pleasure in sexual intercourse.
This woeful incident, however, is the present scenario and is an experience shared by 200 Million Women across 30 countries. More than 200 million have been subjected to one of the most gruesome and appalling forms of abuse, Genital Mutilation.
What is Female Genital Mutilation? ( FGM)
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or another injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Immediate Complications can Include:
- severe pain
- excessive bleeding (hemorrhage)
- genital tissue swelling
- infections e.g., tetanus
- urinary problems
- wound healing problems
- injury to surrounding genital tissue
Long-Term Complications can Include:
- urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections);
- vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis, and other infections);
- menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.);
- scar tissue and keloid;
- sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.);
- increased risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, cesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, etc.) and newborn deaths.
Female Genital Mutilation is in every from unethical, unscrupulous, and detrimental. It only causes harm. No medical data labels it as advantageous, in any sense. Moreover, it can have immense psychological impacts as well.
How Pervasive and Gravis It?
1 )Psychological Impacts of FGM
A research conducted by WHO that included circumcised and non -circumcised women concluded that All but one participant remembered the day of her circumcision as “extremely appalling and traumatizing”, the researchers say. More than 90% of the women described feelings of “intense fear, helplessness, horror, and severe pain” and over 80% were said to be “still suffering from intrusive re-experiences of their circumcision”. For 78% of the subjects, FGM was performed unexpectedly and without any preliminary explanation.
The psychiatric diagnoses showed that almost 80% of the women who had undergone FGM met criteria for affective or anxiety disorders, with a high rate (30.4%) of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while only one of the uncircumcised women fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for an affective disorder.
Often, assault and abuse leave people battling mental issues and FGM is exactly that. It is a form of physical and emotional abuse. It is difficult to rise from such a traumatizing experience unscathed.
2. In Mauritiana, Although FGM is illegal, the law only applies to girls under age 18, and if a girl or her family report dangerous effects like infection or death linked to FGM. Approximately 93% of FGM incidences are carried out by traditional practitioners.
Mali, along with Liberia and Sierra Leone, is the only West African country that has no legislation in place banning FGM. Multiple laws have been proposed banning the practice, most recently when a law was drafted to address gender-based violence. But, in a country where 79.1 percent of women and 79.1 percent of men believe the practice should continue, attempts to ban FGM have been met with much opposition.
WHO has conducted a study of the economic costs of treating health complications of FGM and has found that the current costs for 27 countries where data were available totaled 1.4 billion USD during a one year period (2018). This amount is expected to rise to 2.3 billion in 30 years (2047) if FGM prevalence remains the same – corresponding to a 68% increase in the costs of inaction.
Why is Female Genital Mutilation so Prevalent?
Well, FGM is simply a sphere of misogyny. The female body and sexuality are highly stigmatized. In simple words, people believe, “ A female with genitalia? Oh, the audacity and horror!”. Women are condemned and sometimes, even ostracized for being simply human and experiencing natural and biological processes. When society cannot accept women experiencing humanly processes, it means they have been stripped of their humanity. It clearly means they are being looked at as inferior to humans.
Certain people also agree with the erroneous notion that FGM makes a woman feminine and modest and that she is filthy otherwise. This is a testimony to the fact that society cannot accept the natural female body.
FGM condones‘ preserving’ a woman for her marriage and her husband, for she would not be pristine otherwise. However, it also supports the notion that women cannot enjoy sex. They are simply baby machines. The truth is, FGM, is simply another method the society is using to restrain and curtail women. It is about control over female bodily autonomy. Society cannot endure a woman’s self-assured, free, and progressive. FGM is simply another method the society disparages women.
People claim religion as a rationale for pursuing such a horrid method but no religion scriptures support the practice. As I said, it is about repression.
People, often do it, to feel a sense of power. However, it is only when everyone exists at an equal pedestal, can we decide who is truly powerful.
How Do We End It?
1 ) Repeal laws that promote FGM. Make the existing laws stringent.
2) Allow more female representation in governmental bodies. This will provide women more access to the decisions being made. Also, we cannot take decisions regarding the female reproductive organs, without those who possess such organs, right?
3) Awareness campaigns should be conducted to address the problem. Education about such a subject is key.
4)Allocate resources towards the education of women. If women are educated, they can gain independence and break the shackles of sexism.