Do you still remember the day that you were circumcised?
Did you feel any pain during the procedure?
Maybe you did, maybe you did not. My youngest brother told me that the healing process is more painful than the actual process itself. Of course there is anesthesia, and the nurse or doctor provided you the assurance that she or he knows what she or he is doing, and the entire process is really safe and hygienic. The doctor perhaps used his newly sterilized tools and made you sit in a clean white linen while keeping your mind adrift by giving a little chit chat.
But what if let us say, that instead of letting you sit in a squeaky clean bed, the doctor decided to have you seated in a dusty old wooden stool; and instead of scissors and knives, you saw thorns, broken pieces of glass and perhaps an old and rusty razor blade; would you still wish to continue? And just as you think the situation could never been more worse, you’re parents forced you to do it not because you’re a boy, but because you’re a girl.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the process of removing partially or totally the external female genitalia for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons. More often, girls undergo this procedure due to their parents’ initiative, in which self-consent of the aforementioned are deliberately disregarded. FGM is practiced widely in Africa despite the endeavors against it by the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO estimated that a total of 100 to 140 million girls and women all over the world are currently circumcised. In Africa alone, three million girls are put at risk of FGM every year. FGM is generally classified into four types, in which first is what they call “Clitoridectomy” or the partial or total removal of the clitoris; second is the “Excision” or the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora with or without excision of the labia majora, or the lips that surrounds the vagina. “Infibulation” is another process wherein the vaginal opening is narrowed through the covering seal which is done by cutting and repositioning the inner and sometimes outer labia with or without the removal of the clitoris. Finally, pricking, piercing, incising, scrapping and cauterizing the genital area is also done to women who are required to undergo FGM.
FGM is a generally done as a form of following the norms of a respective society. Such has been viewed as an imperative in order to have a girl grow to someone who the society expects to be highly favorable most especially for making the girl bankable in the marriage market. Advocates of FGM believe that through this process, women will have the more appropriate sexual behavior, which will assure their virginity and marital fidelity. The procedure is also believed to decrease the woman’s libido and would help her do away with sexual acts, as of course when the vaginal opening is covered or narrowed, the aforementioned will be refrained from omitting any sexual acts prior to marriage. And finally, what could be more worse than having to open the closure of the vagina on the process of intercourse; like having to undergo the FGM process all over again.
FGM is normally associated by its advocates to ideas of purity and beauty, together with modesty and femininity; which is a very illogical and inhumane frame of thought and archaic perception towards women.
It is quite a shame that despite women are treated like men’s equal in most parts of the world, there are still a significant percentage of the society who still views them as objects. The perception that women needed to keep their hymen intact as such serves as a sole measure of their value never lost its place in the long list of fallacies that some cultures still wished to keep until present.
When some women in some parts of the West or in Asia rallied for their statutory rights, others battle for their lives and chase their dreams in vain. Perhaps women’s battle in this world would never seem to end. As long as there are dogmas, and obsolete and damaging norms, together with the rotten perceptions of highly archaic and inhumane patriarchal society, women still remains to be in danger. The need to raise awareness of FGM as advocated by WHO must be furthered; otherwise people in other parts of the world will start and stop their disgust, anger and empathy in articles and pictures.