The lights are dim and the voices quiet. Tension fills the room where Nafisa, a six-year-old Sudanese girl lies on a bed in the corner. Her aunt, 25-year-old Zeinab, watches protectively as her niece undergoes the procedure now known as female genital mutilation (FGM), formerly called female circumcision. In this procedure, performed without anaesthesia, a girl’s external sexual organs are partially or totally cut away. Zeinab does not approve. For the past year she has been trying to persuade her mother and sister to spare Nafisa from the procedure.
She lost the battle with her family, but she will stay at her niece’s side. She watches Nafisa lying quietly, brave and confused, and remembers her own experience. Zeinab underwent the procedure twice. At six years old she had the more moderate form of FGM, called Sunni, in which the covering of the clitoris is removed. When she was 15 the older women of her family insisted she have the Pharaonic form, which involves removal of the entire clitoris and the labia and stitching together of the vulva, leaving just a small hole for elimination of urine and menstrual blood.
Zeinab still remembers the pain, the face of the women performing the procedure, the sound of her flesh being cut. She also remembers bleeding and being sick for weeks. This extreme form of FGM has been performed on 82 per cent of Sudanese women, according to a recent survey. Today, 85 to 114 million girls and women in more than 30 countries have been subjected to FGM. Female genital mutilation has long been performed to ensure chaste or monogamous behaviour by suppressing female sexuality. It is commonly — although erroneously — attributed to religious edict.
... girls into womanhood. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is believed to have been performed at least 1400 - 2000 years ago beginning during ... or later adultery. There are three variations to the procedure: sunna circumcision, clitoridectomy, and infibulation.Sunna circumcision is ... is the only way to become a woman. Female circumcision, better known as Female Genital Mutilation, is an ugly monster ...
In fact, neither Islam nor Christianity officially sanctions it. FGM is dangerous. It is estimated that untrained traditional birth attendants perform two thirds of the procedures. They typically have limited knowledge of health and hygiene and often use inadequately cleaned traditional instruments. Side effects of FGM include trauma, bleeding and haemorrhage; pain, stress and shock; infections (which can be fatal); painful and difficult sexual relations; obstructed labour and difficult childbirth; and psychological trauma. The effects can last a lifetime.
The practice was declared illegal in the Sudan in 1941, but that did little to stop it. About 90 per cent of northern Sudanese women have had it done. Why does FGM continue? In surveys, the most common reason given is fear of social criticism. Although women in the 16- to 30-year-old age group are receptive to the notion of eradicating FGM, older women are resistant. Many fear that an uncircumcised daughter will be a social outcast whom no man will marry.
But efforts to stop the procedure are beginning. Dr. Amma Abdel Rahman, coordinator of the Sudan National Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices (SNCTP), has been working to eliminate it. ‘It has nothing to do with religion, and it damages women’s health and socio-economic life,’ she says, calling on women to fight to stop FGM. She has gained government support, and eradication of FGM is now part of the National Plan of Action for the Survival, Protection and Development of Sudanese Children. An initial three-year education effort focuses on Central State, where the Pharaonic from is widespread.
With funds from the Government of the Netherlands, Swedish R adda Barnes and UNICEF, the SNCTP is targeting community leaders, health workers and women’s and youth organizations in a comprehensive awareness-raising effort. Dr. Rahman hopes to eradicate FGM by the year 2000. It is too late for Zeinab and Nafisa. But teaching them the importance of eradicating FGM may spare their daughters from this harmful tradition.
... shown the really culprits and the harassment towards Muslims stopped. Muslim women in America have a strange history. In as ... women are met with tough opposition against their overt practice of their Middle Eastern cultures, coupled up by the Muslim ... that most Americans have over Muslims in general, discrimination against Muslims sets into play leaving Muslim women at a conflict. At first ...
#### Sara Man savage is a freelance writer formerly based in Khartoum. Length: 641 words; no photo. AN APPEAL FOR FEEDBACK: To help us enhance the quality of features, we would like to know whether and how this feature was used. If it is published, please send a clipping, whatever the language, by fax to (212) 326-7768 or mail to DOI Features, H-9 F, UNICEF House, 3 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017. Thank you. August 1994.
Genital mutilation of children: it is a crime female circumcision is ignored in many if not most of the Arab and Muslimcountries; it is practised in Sudan (98%), Somalia (98%) Egypt (more than 92%, among Muslims and Christians) and few other Arab and Muslim countries. It is also practiced by some Jews (the Fellachah).
It has triggered a passionate public debate in the West. This debate has found somewhat of a necho in the Arab and Muslim world but some Muslim religious circles as Al-Azhar (Egypt), the most important Islamic Center in the World, try to justify it in the form called sunn ah [conform with the tradition of the prophet Mohammed]. Male circumcision is practised by all Muslims and Jews and also by some Christians (100% in Egypt, 60% in the U. S.
This practice among Muslims derives from the practice of the Jews: Each Muslim must be circumcised like Abraham, who is considered a model man. For different reasons, the debate against Male circumcision is still taboo in Western and in Arab and Muslimcountries for the following reasons: 1) Doctors and other paramedical groups profit by the operation of circumcision and one can hardly expect them to willingly reduce their income. Circumcision and the commerce of the foreskin constitutes a lucrative industry in the United States. 2) Opposition of the Religious communities, in particular the Jewish community: the Western world has passed laws prohibiting female circumcision, but dares not to do the same for male circumcision for fear that they will be considered anti-Semitic by the Jews. The so-called ” medical’ justifications for Male circumcision were formulated principally by Jewish doctors.
One must note, however, that even the voice of American Jews is being added to the cry against the practice of circumcision. 3) International organisations refuse to involve themselves in this issue. They are also afraid of being considered anti-Semitic. These organisations, responsible for overseeing the respect of human rights, are always ready to criticise -correctly so – female circumcision, but have become accomplices in the violation of the rights of male infants to an intact body. There is no reason to distinguish between Male and Female circumcision: both are mutilations of healthy sexual organs of non-consenting children. There is no justification for such mutilations.
... see how a female Muslim's perspective on the Taliban situation differs from this male point of view, ... over earlier practices that women are permitted to inherit and own property. Non-Muslims have generally ... with a friend of mine who is a practicing Muslim. Although he wishes to remain anonymous, I ... whom they live through many of the religious practices previously described. The fact that they alone ...
If the clitoris and the foreskin were useless, Nature would not have made them. Furthermore, concerning Muslims, both practices violate the Koran: ‘Our Lord, You did not create all this in vain’ (3: 191); ‘[He] perfected everything Hecreated’ (32: 7).
It is imperative to leave the child, female or male, intact until the age of 18 when he will have the freedom to decide for himself whether he wants to be circumcised or not. He is then even free to have her / his ears amputated if he chooses, but one does not have the right for forcibly remove her / his body parts when s / he is a baby. In my opinion, a God who demands that his believers be mutilated and branded on their genitals the same as cattle, is a God of questionable ethics. It could be legitimate to perform either male or female circumcision, as any other surgery, for specific, extremely rare, medical reasons on specific individuals.
But to arbitrarily mutilate children, boys or girls, under the pretext that it is for their own good, shows an influence of cynicism and fanaticism. Sami AldeebDoctor of Law; Graduate in Political Sciences Staff Legal Advisor in charge of Arab and Islamic Law Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, Lausanne, Switzerland I developed this question in a recent article To mutilate in the Name of Jehovah or Allah, published by the International Journal Medicine and Law. (vol. 13, no 7/8 1994, pp. 574-622) Private replies: replies: To subscribe, sign off, or digest: Technical questions: Other inquires about the list: OWNER-Comments to. On Fri, 8 Sep 1995, Sami Aldeeb wrote: > Genital mutilation of children: it is a crime>Several years ago my partner, Charles A.
Male Circumcision: A Social and Medical Misconception University of Johns Hopkins Introduction Male circumcision is defined as a surgical procedure in which the prepuce ... that the nurse disclose these findings to associates in the health care profession and continue to lobby against the use of ...
Bonner, and I wrote an article ‘Legal and Constitutional Aspects of Circumcision’ for a magazine produce by the organization NO CIRC. >One can make well supported constitutional arguments against the ‘routine’ non-medically indicated circumcision of young males. Issues involve the lack of informed consent, state limitations on parental rights when the health of a minor is at issue, medical malpractice, battery, and sexual battery / molestation. The American Association of Pediatrics found that their was no ‘Medically indicated basis for routine circumcision.’ The natural offshoot of this finding is that doctors can not recommend the procedure without a specific finding of medical necessity on an individual basis, which would be a rare finding. Therefore, parents cannot consent to the procedure for the infants as the procedure is not medically indicated. >Certainly, no one would allow a parent to instruct a doctor to amputate a finger, hand, arm, foot, leg, etc, without a medical necessity? How can we allow them to consent to a surgically invasive procedure that removes healthy functional tissue without a medical necessity? >Good case law was developed along the lines of forced sterilizations of mentally incompetent individuals, which was a routine practice two decades ago.
Now, the courts require a finding of medical necessity and safeguards that require court approval in many instances, before a parent or guardian can consent to sterilization of their child or ward. This finding is based on constitutional protections from invasions of privacy and protection of the person. >Good case law is also developing in response to the issue of consent for abortion as regards minors and their constitutional rights to control the integrity of their bodies. >It is time for those who are concerned about human rights to speak out for male babies who are routinely mutilated and sexually assaulted.
Michael J. Kinane Private replies: Public replies: To subscribe, sign off, or digest: Technical questions: Other inquires about the list: OWNER-Comments to. > > One can only support Michael Kinane’s message about circumcision of male> infants. The deprivation, modification of sexual sensations because of> circumcision is a most serious crime in my opinion since it affects the> person in a most intimate physical area and within a privileged zone of> privacy regulating his emotional relationship with his sexual partner. > > The practice should be regarded as grievous bodily harm regardless of> religion. As for female circumcision, it should be put in the same> category as the killing of baby girls: a crime against humanity.
... for girls in these cultures, female circumcision has no valid medical purpose. The practice of female genital circumcision is a medically unnecessary one that ... and voices. Female circumcision might be tradition, but it’s one that needs to be outlawed for the health and safety of ... without their consent and without informing them of the health risks or alternatives. It represents an antiquated view of ...
> > > Arnaud: I appreciate the support. However, female circumcision should not be put on a different level that male circumcision. They are equally repulsive and cannot be distinguished by unsupportable arguments that male circumcisions, in some rare instances, may be medically indicated, as may limb amputations, in some rare instances. Thanks.
Michael Kinane My name is Regina Wingo. I have recently been working on a paper about female genital mutilation. I have a few questions left about some things in my paper. If there is anyone out there that can help me, can you please contact me personally at: Now to go on to my questions: 1. What is sunna? 2.
What is ma krama? 3. Where can I find the actual ‘Hadith’ which is the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed? When you send me this information, can you send me where you obtained the information from? It would be very helpful if someone can help me. Thanks a lot. >1.
What is sunna? Literally it means ‘custom’ i Arabic. But it is also used to refer to the act of ” cutting parts of a boy’s or girl’s genitalia’>2. What is ma krama? i do not know. >3. Where can I find the actual ‘Hadith’ which is the sayings of> the Prophet Mohammed? i will try to locate. in the meanwhile try to find books by Naval al Saadawiregards, nurhanRe: your request for bibliography — I don’t have answers to your questions at hand, but have found Koso-Thomas, Olay inka The Circumcision of Women: A Strategy For Eradication by Zed Press (London) helpful for that kind of info (1992).
Also Hosken, F. P. The Hosken Report, Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females. Lexington, Ma.
: Internation Network News. 1982. and McLean, S. , ed.
Female Circumcision, Excision and Infibulation, Report No. 47. London: Minority Rights Group, 1980. The Koso-Thomas book is slender and includes and decent. Hi Franke (and everyone else), In response to Franke’s query, I have been working on the issue of FGM for about 2 1/2 years. I’m finishing my doctorate in philosophy here at the University of Kansas.
... , including the woman or girls ethnic group, what country they are living in, and their socio-economic status. Female genital mutilation is performed ... health, and religion. The most common reason for performing genital mutilations are custom and tradition. Along with other physical or behavioral characteristics, FGM ...
I’ve written a presentation-length (12 page) paper on FGM which I gave at the American Philosophical Association last December. There are a number of sources which may be of use to you and your students. They are accessible, in my estimation. 1. Stephen A. James ‘Reconciling International Human Rights and Cultural Relativism: The Case of Female Circumcision,’ Bioethics, vol.
8, no. 1, 1994, pp. 1-26. 2. Alison T. Slack, ‘Female Circumcision: A Critical Appraisal,’ Human Rights Quarterly, vol.
10, 1988, pp. 437-86. 3. Kay Boul ware-Miller, ‘ Female Circumcision: Challenges to the Practice asa Human Rights Violation,’ Harvard Women’s Law Journal, vol. 8, 1985, pp. 155-76.
These may be useful, if not in the course at least for yourself. For further clarification on the issue I might also suggest you take a look 4. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, ‘Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses,’ Boundary 2, 12 (3) /13 (1), 1984, pp. 333-58. Though this will, no doubt, be a controversial statement.
I think these are the some of the best arguments I have encountered against FGM. However (and here it goes), I think with the exception of #4 the arguments are seriously flawed. In my paper I argue that they are susceptible to the objection that they stem from a neo-colonialist ic bias, and might well be called imperialistic attacks against FGM. Of course, this is not to say that FGM is morally defensible. In fact, I think that it is not morally defensible. My point in the paper is that not all arguments against bad practices are ipso facto good arguments.
Some (the best ones in the literature, or so I argue) are quite poor. But this is probably not so important to your query. = = 20 I hope this is helpful. Leslie Jones Leslie E.
Jones = 20 Department of Philosophy University of Kansas-mail: = A 0 not her useful source is Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar’s book Warriermarks female genital mutilation and the sexual blinding of women Jonathan Cape: London 1993 Actually, the Walker/Parmar book is about the making of their documentary Warrior Marks which is about f gm. Female Circumcision Genital alteration in the female includes, clitoridectomy, clitoral circumcision and piercing. The World Health Organization had a conference in February 1979 in Khartoum, Sudan, and unanimously condemned the mutilations as disastrous to women’s health and as indefensible on medical as well as humane grounds. In the United States, Rep. Pat Schroeder has written a bill to prohibit female genital mutilation (FGM), H. R.
3247. In addition there is: Excerpted section 261 of the larger bill… 103 d CONGRESS H. R.
3075 As Introduced in the House Note: This document is the unofficial version of a Bill or Resolution. The printed Bill and Resolution produced by the Government Printing Office is the only official version. VERSION As Introduced in the House CONGRESS 103 d CONGRESS 1 st Session BILL H. R. 3075 TITLE To promote greater equity in the delivery of health care services to American women through expanded research on women’s health issues and through improved access to health care services, including preventive health services. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SEPTEMBER 14, 1993 Mrs.
Schroeder (for herself, Ms. Snowe, Ms. Slaughter, Ms. Brown of Florida, Ms. Byrne, Mrs. Clayton, Mrs.
Collins of Illinois, Ms. De Lauro, Ms. E shoo, Mrs. Johnson of Connecticut, Mrs.
Lloyd, Mrs. Lowey, Mrs. Ken nelly, Ms. McKinney, Mrs. Maloney, Mrs.
Meek, Mrs. Mink, Ms. Molinari, Mrs. Morella, Ms.
Pelosi, Ms. Royal-Allard, Ms. Schenk, Mr. Thurman, Mrs.
Unsold, Ms. Vela-suez, Ms. Waters, Ms. Woolsey, Mr. Abercrombie, Mr. Berman, Mr.
Brown of California, Mr. Evans, Mr. Frank of Massachusetts, Mr. Hochbrueckner, Mr.
Lantos, Mr. Martinez, Mr. McDermott, Mr. Nadler, Mr.
Sanders, Mr. Wheat, and Mr. Yates) introduced the following bill; which was referred jointly to the Committees on Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Armed Services, Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, and Veterans ” Affairs TEXT A BILL To promote greater equity in the delivery of health care services to American women through expanded research on women’s health issues and through improved access to health care services, including preventive health services. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SUBTITLE M – FEDERAL PROHIBITION OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION ACT OF 1993 SEC. 261. SHORT TITLE.
This subtitle may be cited as the ‘Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1993’. SEC. 262. TITLE 18 AMENDMENT. (a) In General. – Chapter 7 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:’s ec.
116. Female genital mutilation’ (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), whoever knowingly circumcises, excises, or the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.’ (b) A surgical operation is not a violation of this section if the operation is -‘ (1) necessary to the health of the person on whom it is performed, and is performed by a person licensed in the place of its performance as a medical practitioner; or’ (2) performed on a person in labor or who has just given birth and is performed for medical purposes connected with that labor or birth by a person licensed in the place it is performed as a medical practitioner, midwife, or person in training to become such a practitioner or midwife.’ (c) In applying subsection (b) (1), no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom the operation is to be performed of any belief on the part of that or any other person that the operation is required as a matter of custom or ritual.’ (d) Whoever knowingly denies to any person medical care or services or otherwise discriminates against any person in the provision of medical care or services, because -‘ (1) that person has undergone female circumcision, excision, or; or’ (2) that person has requested that female circumcision, excision, or be performed on any person; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.’ . (b) Clerical Amendment. – The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 7 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:’ 116. Female genital mutilation.’ . SEC.
263. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall carry our appropriate education, preventive, and outreach activities in communities that traditionally practice female circumcision, excision, or, to inform people in those communities about the health risks and emotional traum a inflicted by those practices, and to inform them and the medical community about the provisions of section 262. SEC. 264. EFFECTIVE DATES.
Section 263 shall take effect immediately, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall commence carrying it out not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. Section 262 shall take effect 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. Fauziya Kasinga, a woman who escaped from Togo in 1994 to avoid being forced into female genital mutilation and a polygamous marriage, is seeking political asylum in the U. S. She was detained in a Pennsylvania prison after being told by one U.
S. immigration judge that her story was unbelievable and irrational. Since her arrival in the U. S. , Kasinga has been detained, shackled, and strip-searched.
On April 24, after public outcry, Kasinga was released from prison by the INS. Kasinga’s case was heard on May 2 by the Board of Immigration Appeals, the highest administrative tribunal in the U. S. immigration system. The ruling, expected this summer, could set a precedent for women seeking asylum under similar circumstances.
On May 1, the Senate approved an immigration bill amendment to make it a crime to perform female genital mutilation on girls under the age of 18, carrying penalties of up to five years in prison and fines. Sponsor of the amendment, Harry Reid (D-Nev. ), was forced to drop a provision that would have granted political asylum to women fleeing their home countries to escape the practice. To show your support for Fauziya Kasinga, please contact Attorney General Janet Reno and INS Commissioner Doris Meissner. For related stories, see the Feminist News: Immigration Board Hears Togo Woman’s Asylum Plea On May 2, all 12 members of the Board of Immigration Appeals heard the case of Fauziya Kasinga, the 19-year-old woman from Togo seeking asylum in the U. S.
to escape Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in her native country. In the 90-minute hearing, immigration service general counsel David A. Martin — who suggested he did not believe Kasinga’s case in its entirety — argued that the Board should establish a precedent that only girls and women who would be forced to undergo FGM be granted asylum. The narrow grounds Martin advocated would exclude women who had already undergone FGM, as well as women who would be ostracized from their community if they refused the procedure. Performed with unsterilized knives or even broken glass, the practice entails cutting off all or part of female genitalia and can cause severe health complications and even death. Kasinga’a lawyer, Karen Musa lo, urged the panel not to use Kasinga’s case to issue broad guidelines for all women seeking asylum on similar grounds, saying they have a chance to make their own cases.
The written decision of the board, expected this summer, will apply to all 179 immigration judges in the U. S. who hear asylum cases. Congresswomen Criticize Mitsubishi After meeting with Mitsubishi officials and concluding they are in denial about the seriousness of sexual harassment claims brought against the company, Representative Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo. ) is coordinating a congressional response to the case. Six congresswomen joined Schroeder Wednesday (5-1) in calling for the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission to seek a court order to prevent Mitsubishi from retaliating against workers involved in the EEOC’s sexual harassment suit against the company.
Claiming that Mitsubishi has challenged the authority of the EEOC and manipulated employees, the congresswomen charge that the company: made threats of job losses if allegations caused sales to drop; planned and encouraged workers to attend a protest outside the Chicago office of the EEOC; encouraged workers to make free phone calls to reporters, the EEOC and government officials to deny the charges; and asked the court for medical records of the women involved. A Global Feminist Perspective on FGM It is important to see this as part of the continuum of violence against women across many culture and societies. The form such violence takes varies, but ultimately what’s clear is that misogyny is universal. The effects of patriarchal violence on the quality of women’s daily lives are devastating.’ Pratibha Parmar The practice of committing violent acts towards women is nothing new in the history of our world. Indeed, FGM should not seem so shocking to our Western eyes when we look around us and see, as Mary Daly writes, that it is but ‘one manifestation of a planetary patriarchy.’ [Daly, p. 154].
It is a mistake to think that these ‘barbaric’ customs have no counterparts in our society and in so called ‘civilized societies’ throughout the world. In Western society, there is anorexia, plastic surgery, rape, battering, and up until this century, the medical profession considered FGM a cure for nymphomania, masturbation, and hysteria. Sigmund Freud built an entire culture of psychotherapy on the notion that ‘The elimination of clitoral sexuality is a necessary precondition for the development of femineity.’ [Walker p. 110] The Chinese ancient practice of foot binding is a form of mutilation that was practiced for centuries. The point is that the same sexist myths and attitudes under ly these practices… and in many cases, this sexism kills.
The underlying theme of most violence against women is, in addition to hatred, the need to ‘control’ women, especially to ‘control’ their sexuality. Think of all the media images in our society portraying the ‘dangerous, killer female libido’ – Fatal Attraction, Lolita, the ‘evil’ woman in the last James Bond movie who kills men while they are between her legs. These images clearly have close cousins in the justifications given by practitioners of FGM that the clitoris ‘kills babies and renders men impotent.’ [Walker, p. 139] Eve was the ultimate ‘killer sexual female ” who tempted man and brought about his demise. Linked in with this idea that female sexuality is somehow, powerfully evil is the idea that women are inherently unclean, inherently sinful, and the subsequent obsession in many cultures with the idea of purity and purification for women. This plays itself out in most cultures in a ‘Madonna/Whore’ complex, a duality of good girl and bad girl whose basic is echoed in the repudiation of the un ” circumcized’ woman as un proper and whorish and the idealization of the ‘circumcized’ woman as faithful and true.
The idea is to keep women dis empowered. The clitoris, as a ‘purely sexual, purely female organ’ [Daly, p. 159], is perceived as a threat to traditional gender hierarchies. When the excuse is made that the clitoris will grow like a penis, women will be unable to have intercourse, and thus will, of course, ‘become like men’, it is clear that female sexuality, as personified by the clitoris, is known to be a source of female power; as it should be, as it is for any living, breathing organism who does not have that power denied them. As a symbol of power, it must be destroyed to keep society functioning in it’s current male privileged fashion.
Perhaps the need is felt to excise the clitoris becase it is like the penis and thus to have it makes woman, like men, powerful. Female genital mutilation, like other terrorist tactics, has at it’s root the goal of silencing, the goal of repressing resistance at the most fundamental levels. FGM is just one of a multitude of violent acts for this purpose – rape, the brutal sexual torture of female political prisoners, the forced sterilization of women of color in this country and abroad, the battering of wives, girlfriends, mothers, and sisters around the globe… these are but a few of the ways our society and others try to silence women. What occurs to many scholars is that this practice is solely a ritual for male sexual pleasure. FGM in most cases tightens or closes the female sex organs so that men get a tight sensation, like that of sleeping with a virgin, all the time.
There is no pleasure for women in this, in a similar way that there is no pleasure in starving yourself and going through painful surgery to get breast implants that then leak and give you cancer. Yet women, as well as men, are culturally conditioned to believe that this is what is attractive and this is what is necessary to be a ‘woman’. In many areas where FGM is practiced, men will not marry unmutilated girls. These women, and to an extent all women, are used as objects, shaped in the image that men supposedly ‘want.’ And thus the most weakened, debilitated form of womanhood is the most attractive…
because it is the least threatening to the system of a mle dominance. The mantle of tradition and nationalism has been used time and time again throughout his troy to relegate woman and women’s rights to the ‘back.’ Right now, women who do not wear the traditionally Muslim veil in Algeirs are considered political targets and are shot and / or raped on sight. There is a disturbing trend to equate nationalist pride and nationalist movements with the reaffirmation, often through violence, of patriarchal structure, where women are treated as second class citizens. It is necessary to see that ‘torture is not culture ” and ‘mutilation is not culture’, whether it takes place in The Gambia or on fraternity row. When we can draw connections between the situation of women individually and the situation of women globally; the possible connections between participating in a consumer culture in the first world and women’s slave labor in the third world, between the rapes of the Bosnian camps and the rapes of wives by their husbands, when we see that certain trends exist across geography and culture and that these trends are not ‘tradition’, but human rights violations, then we begin to grasp the magnitude and importance of working to end any and all violence against women, whether abroad or at home. For as women, if we weaken one link in the chain, we clearly are closer to breaking it altogether.
Description, Health Risks, and Medical Facts When looking at female ‘circumcision’, it becomes apparent that this operation is in a completely different category from male circumcision. While male circumcision involves the removal of the foreskin, there is rarely a case when only the foreskin of the female is removed. Therefore, it is misleading to call this practice female circumcision. In her article Female Circumcision As a Public Heath Issue, appearing in the September 15, 1994 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Nahid Toubia distinguishes four types of female genital mutilation: I. Removal of part or all of the clitoris (commonly called ‘Sunnah’).
The procedures are usually done by a midwife or a barber who is not trained in surgical procedure or sterilization practices.
The instrument used is commonly a razor blade, scissors, or a broken bottle, depending upon what is available. These wounds are then covered with anything from alcohol or lemon juice to ash, herb mixtures, or cow dung. II. Removal of clitoris and part of the labia minora. III. Removal of clitoris and labia minora, plus the incision and the stitching together of the anterior 2/3 of the labia majora.
This stitching is often done with Acacia thorns and silk, catgut, or horsehair. IV. Removal of clitoris and labia minora, plus the incision and the sticking together of all of the labia majora to cover the urethra and entrance of the vagina with a hood of skin. A small opening is usually left for urine and menstrual blood.
This opening is maintained by the insertion of a sliver of wood or a reed. Type I and II are considered while types III and IV are considered (practiced widely only in Sudan, Somalia, and Mali).
The health problems that occur as a direct result of FGM are many and varied in their severity. Common immediate complications of the procedure are: hemorrhaging (from the severing of the pudenda l or dorsal artery), severe pain leading to shock or death, anemia, infection of the wound, abscesses, ulcers, delayed healing, septicemia, tetanus, and gangrene. Long term problems are more common with because of the drainage of urine and menstrual blood is blocked. These kinds of problems are: chronic pelvic inflammation (causing pelvic and back pain), , possible infertility, chronic urinary tract infection (leading to urinary stones and kidney damage), and dermoid cysts.
Sometimes, the opening left in type IV is too small for the passage of menstrual blood. As a result, the blood builds up in the abdomen and causes it to swell. Often the families of these women believe the swelling to be because of pregnancy and, in some cases, the woman has been beaten to death because of this suspicion. The biggest problem of nearly all women who have experienced genital mutilation is complications in childbirth. For tho Statistics 54%, both men and women, list tradition as the main reason for performing FGM.
The United Nations Working Group on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, 1995 There are 100 million women alive today who have had some form of FGM performed on them. Female Circumcision as Public Health, Nahid Toubia, M. D. , New England Journal of Medicine, 1994. The first documented FGM was performed six thousand years ago. Warrior Marks FGM is performed by: o 53% Traditional Midwives o 12% Physicians o 12% Barbers o 5% Nurses Female Circumcision-Fighting a Cruel Tradition, Sue Armstrong, New Scientist, Feb.
2, 1991. Globally, two million girls are circumcised each year, six thousand a day. Female Genital Mutilation, Nahid Toubia, M. D. , 1993. In a poll performed on 4500 adults in Sudan in 1983, 82.
6 women felt that FGM should be practiced and so did 87. 7 men. Asama El DareerFGM – Religious and Cultural Significance Female genital mutilation is often defined and defended as a religious practice – a practice required by Muslim law. This is used to promote FGM as a custom and to protect it from anti-FGM legislation and action and thus it is important to have an understanding of both sides of the issue in terms of the religious and cultural significance of this practice. There are two main sources of Muslim law – one is the Koran and the other is The Sunnah, which roughly means ‘the tradition’, specifically the words and actions of Mohammed, the customs during the time of Mohammed, and the – ‘tenets of schools of Muslim law through the centuries.’ [Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh] An important component of the are the fatwas.
These are the opinions of Muslim scholars and are important in terms of our discussion of FGM because they are what is most accessible to the average Muslim public; they are sold and published widely and though not legally binding, are ‘morally obligatory for the believer.’ [Aldeeb Abu Sahlieh]The fatwas are part of ‘tradition’ or ‘custom.’ In understanding the widespread practice of female and male ” it is necessary to take into account that in the Islamic religion, customs, norms, or traditions over many centuries constitute Muslim laws. So though almost all scholars will agree that the Koran itself makes no mention of female (nor does the Bible, one might add), the practice can be and is seen by some scholars and certainly many lay-people as law by custom. First of all, it falls under Muslim law in that it was practiced during the time of Mohammed. Secondly, in narratives attributed to Mohammed, it is suggested that ‘circumcision is a sunn ah for men and a for women.’ [Aldeeb Abu Sahlieh] A is loosely translated as the equivalent of an ‘honorable deed.’ Other narratives attributed to the Prophet seem to suggest that Mohammed only light cutting, if any for females. It would appear that female genital mutilation is on relatively shaky ground in terms of it’s backing in religious text. One scholar, Shik h Abbas, the Rector of the Muslim Institute at Mosque in Paris, is quoted by Sami.
A. Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh as saying that ‘… there is no existing religious Islamic text of value to be considered in favor of female excision.’ So, why is FGM still consistently practiced in many countries under the guise of religion? Because of the strength of tradition and custom. Interestingly enough, according to statistics, FGM is not so heavily practiced in Islamic countries. Most of the religious arguments in favor of it come from African Muslims, and Africa, not the Middle East, is where FGM is most. In fact, FGM predated Islam in Africa and Nahid Toubia hypothesizes that ‘It is most likely that newly converted leaders seeking to continue the practice of FGM linked it with Islam.
Over time, a belief was created in the minds of Muslims in these [African] countries that FGM was required by Islam… The transmission route of FGM helps to clarify it as a nonreligious practice. When Islam entered Asian countries from Arabia or Iran, it did not carry FGM with it, but when it was imported to Asia through Nile Valley cultures, FGM was part of it.’ [Toubia, p. 31-32] However, even though female ” is not considered Muslim law by scholars and those with a knowledge of Muslim texts, tradition is a powerful force to contend with and the cultural laws and mythology that have been built around this practice are deeply entrenched in many societies.
In many communities, the most common cultural justification for FGM is that it is a religious. Many people believe that a woman cannot be a true, proper Muslim if she is not ‘circumcized’; she cannot go to Mosque, marry, or, in some cases, even live in the community. When pressed about why it is a religious, many people simply answer ‘tradition.’ There is also a prevalent notion that the clitoris is dirty and makes a woman ‘unclean’. It is thought that the clitoris will grow like a penis if it is not excised and this will make it so that men are unable to have intercourse with women (the penis would be obstructed by the clitoris) and that it will render women childless and ‘man-like.’ The idea, laid out plainly, is that the clitoris is in fact and in form ‘evil’ and will ‘make men impotent and kill children at birth.’ [Walker, p. 140] In some cases, the Islamic religion is totally absent from the explanations for FGM.
One of the most interesting and disturbing cultural / religious instances of the ‘tradition’ of female genital mutilation is found in a Creation myth of the Dogon people of Northen Mali. In this myth, related in Alice Walker and Praitha Parmar’s Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women: the God Amma creates the earth as a feminine body, where the sexual organ is the anthill and the is a termite hill. Then the God comes to the earth seeking intercourse with her. As Amma approached, the termite hill (i. e. clitoris) rose up and barred the God’s passage into the earth so that intercourse could not take place.
The God then cut down the termite hill and had intercourse with the ‘excised earth.’ Thus it continued without mishap, the God having removed the source of his earlier problem. It is not s uprising, in light of this myth, that female genital mutilation is reported as widely practiced among the Dogon people. [Walker, p. 187-188] Also in Warrior Marks, it is interesting that two bulls were killed during a traditional ceremony in Dar Sala may, The Gambia involving girls who had just recently been excised. The bull, as Walker notes, is an ancient woman symbol, whose head and horns represent symbolically the female internal reproductive organs, due to the similarity in shape. [Walker, p.