Female genital cutting (FGC), also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), female circumcision or female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), refers to “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons.” The term is almost exclusively used to describe tradition, cultural, and religious procedures where parents must give consent, because of the minor age of the subject, rather than to procedures generally done with self-consent (such as labiaplasty and vaginoplasty).
Female genital cutting (FGC) is practiced throughout the world, with the practice concentrated most heavily in Africa. Its practice is extremely controversial. Opposition is motivated on women rights abuse and by concerns regarding the consent (or lack thereof, in most cases) of the patient, and subsequently the safety and long-term consequences of the procedures. In the past several decades, there have been many concentrated efforts by the human rights activist, researchers and World Health Organization (WHO) to end the practice of FGC. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has also declared February 6 an “International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation.
The Female Genital Mutilation in Africa
The female genital mutilation has become a worldwide human rights cause
... very important procedure from the social point of view. Custom and tradition are the main reasons of female genital mutilation.Many societies that practice FGM ... , (1998). Efua Dorkenoo, "Cutting the rose: Female Genital Mutilation: The practice and its prevention," Minority Rights Publications, (1995). "Female genital mutilation," Amnesty International, at: http://www.amnesty ...
— Prof Akinayo Abegunde In 1994, when a 17-year-old girl from
Nigeria sought asylum in the united state to escape genital
Mutilation.Few Americans understood the brutal nature of this ancient and widespread African ritual. Falilat Olakoya ran away from home the day she would have been forced to undergo ritual genital cutting in preparation for an arranged marriage. She eventually made her way to the United States, but instead of granting her asylum, immigration officials arrested her for illegal entry and sent her to prison for a year and a half, where she was sometimes shackled and placed in solitary confinement. Although human rights advocates sought her release, the courts found her story “not credible.” Only when the media exposed her plight was she freed.
Legislation and Media Awareness
Kassindja’s case became a lightning rod for growing legislative
and media attention, awakening the nation to a dangerous and
painful practice that is the social norm for women in many central
African countries. Representative Patricia Schroeder (D- Colo.),
now retired, advocated banning the practice for twenty years
before getting a bill through Congress, and remarked that some
members of Congress simply could not believe such a practice
actually existed. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) fought for a ban
although “all my staff advised me to stay away from it,”
considering it a squeamish subject for a male politician. When
Stephanie Walsh was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for her
photographs of a genital mutilation rite in Kenya, the inhumanity
of the procedure was exposed to the general public, helping to
legitimize a subject that many found uncomfortable to discuss.
Genital mutilation, also referred to as female circumcision,
genital cutting, or excision, is a coming-of-age ritual that
signifies a girl’s entry into womanhood. It is accompanied by
public celebrations and is often a source of pride for the girl.
For some it also carries religious significance. Usually
performed on girls between the ages of 4 and 12,
but also on teenagers, it involves the partial or total excision of the external female genitalia. It is performed by a female elder using a razor, knife, or piece of glass, usually without anesthetic, while several women hold the girl down. Agonizingly painful, it robs her of sexual pleasure and frequently causes medical problems, including hemorrhaging, infection, urinary
... by and let this practice occur without being concerned. Just because it does not occur in our country (for girls, anyway) does not ... trusted. Additionally, a lot of the information presented about female genital mutilation coincided with the information that we learned in class ... . The article begins with a little vignette of an old woman examining seven tiny knives -knives that are used for female ...
incontinence, infertility, and complications in childbirth.
Genital mutilation is practiced in 25 countries in central Africa, ranging from Somalia in the east coast and stretching westward to Senegal on the Atlantic. The rite is believed to have originated more than two thousand years ago in Egypt or the Horn of Africa
(what is now Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia).
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 130 million women have undergone the procedure. Although it is most often associated with Islam, it is also practiced by Christians, adherents to traditional African religions, and one Jewish sect.
Three Types, Varying in Severity
There are generally three different types of circumcision:
clitoridectomy, the amputation of the clitoris; excision of the labia minora as well as the clitoris; and infibulation, the removal all external genitalia including the labia majora, after which the edges of the wound are stitched together, allowing for only a tiny opening. The risk of infection and problematic
childbirth are naturally greatly exacerbated by infibulation, and it is estimated that 20% to 25% of sterility cases in the Sudan have resulted from the procedure. The prevalence of circumcision
and the type of procedure vary enormously from country to country.
According to a study by Demographic and Health Survey, 93% of women in Mali and 98% in Djibouti and Somalia undergo genital cutting, whereas in Uganda and the Congo the number drops to 5%. Clitoridectomy is the most common procedure. Infibulation accounts for about 15% of women, with an estimated 80% to 90% of all infibulations occurring in Djibouti, Somalia, and the Sudan. The
only country where the genital mutilation is noticeably decreasing is the Central African Republic, where the practice was not widespread to begin with.
“We have done it, we do it, and we will continue to do it.” Genital cutting is seen as a way of ensuring that a woman is clean, chaste, and ready for marriage; uncut women are associated with promiscuity and lack of social respectability. Deadening the woman’s sexual pleasure is a way of guaranteeing her virginity and fidelity. Because it is a valued social rite, most girls are willing to succumb to the pain and the subsequent health problems.
... organization selecting the most appropriate mix of flexible working practices in different countries. In U.S., the prospect of high monetary reward ... originally designed.Thus, before adopting a mix of working practices in every particular country, the organizations managers need to examine cultural factors ...
But whether they wish to be excised or not, the choice is not theirs. Living in a staunchly patriarchal world, they are dependent on men for social and economic survival. As a father from the Ivory Coast told the New York Times,“ If your daughter has not been excised. . . . No man in the village will marry her.
It is an obligation. We have done it, we do it, and we will continue to do it. . . . She has no choice. I decide. Her viewpoint is not important.”
An Ancient Tradition Resists Reform
For the past ten to fifteen years, France has criminally
prosecuted immigrant parents who have had their daughters excised, and in October 1996 the U.S. Congress outlawed female genital mutilation in this country. The U.N. announced a global campaign in 1997 to eradicate the practice, and a growing number of refugee, women’s, and human rights organizations in Africa and around the world have called for its prohibition. But progress has
been slow. Western reform movements are sometimes
counterproductive, with Africans resisting the dictates of
patronizing outsiders. Outlawing the practice had already been attempted by colonial governments in Africa during the first half of the century, provoking only resistance and protests. African governments have also been ineffective. Kenya, Sudan, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, and Egypt have passed laws limiting the practice, but they are not enforced.
The World Health Organization estimates it will take a minimum often years to reduce theprevalence of genital mutilation, and three generations to eradicate it. It will take time to transform awareness of a firmly entrenched ritual that is valued by the local culture but considered dangerous and demeaning by outsiders.
1. Abegunde Akintayo, (2007) Women’s Genital Mutilation : A turning point for
Africa? The Alan Guttmacher Institute, New York
2. Babatunde Oluajo, (2003).
Politics and Gender Mainstreaming
Leadership, A paper presented at a National Workshop on Gender,
... it certainly can be said for the years during World War II. Women were faced with the challenge of having their spouses ... field with their male counterparts . Revisiting Canada’s Civilian Women during World War II Jeff Keshen’s essay is without a doubt ... ’s perspective without much sympathy to the plight civilian women experienced during the World War II era. This article is very well ...
3. Ihonvbere, J O (2000), Towards a New Constitutionalism in AFRICA.
4. Orji Nkwachukwu (2003), State and Emergence of Women Policy implementation
leaders in Nigeria, Reflections of constrains and opportunities.
5. Nkoyo, (2002) . “Women are looking for new partners for Empowerment”
in community magazine CAPP Publication Vol. 5 No. 1.
6. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.