Female Genital Mutilation

According to the WHO, it is estimated that around 200 million girls and women have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and there are at least 3 million girls at risk of undergoing this procedure every year!

FGM is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for no medical reason. The practice is carried out mainly in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Other forms of mutilation have been reported in other countries, including some ethnic regions of South America. Mutilation methods and type differ depending on the girls' ethnic group, the country they live in, and their socio-economic background. It is usually carried out between the ages of 0 to 15 and performed by traditional practitioners. A sharp object like a knife, a razor blade, scalpels, and even broken glass is used to remove the clitoris, labia minora, or other external female genitalia parts.

The practice not only violates children's rights, but the consequences of it could be deadly. Immediate FGM risks include severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, long-term implications for their sexual and reproductive health, and, let us not forget, death. The main reason for this procedure depends on the society it is being practiced by, but it is a manifestation of gender inequality in all of them. There are several reasons for a girl undergoing genital mutilation:

  1. Psychosexual reasons: It is used to control women's sexuality because the clitoris is insatiable; without it, male sexual pleasure is increased. It also ensures virginity before marriage and fidelity afterward.

  2. Sociological and cultural beliefs: It is used to initiate womanhood, including myths on the female genital. Some legends include fertility enhancement, child survival, and, again, augmented male sexual pleasure.

  3. Hygiene and aesthetics: It is used when female genitalia is deemed dirty and ugly, so they are removed to enhance appearance and cleanliness.

  4. Socio-economic factors: It is used as a pre-requisite for marriage or pre-requisite to inherit

According to the UN Committee on CRC, "discrimination against girl children is a serious violation of rights, affecting their survival and all areas of their young lives as well as restricting their capacity to contribute positively to society" (2005).

FMG has been classified into four major types:

  • Type 1 consists of partially removing the external and visible part of the clitoris, potentially including the clitoral hood or the fold of the skin surrounding the clitoral glands.

  • Type 2 is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora; it can include the removal of the labia majora.

  • Type 3 consists of narrowing down the vaginal opening by creating a covering seal; the seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora or labia majora. This type is also called infibulation.

  • Type 4 consists of all other harmful procedures for non-medical purposes like piercing, incising, scraping, and cauterizing the genital area.



Now, let us get one thing straight, FGM is never safe! Even when performed in a sterile environment with a medical professional, there can still be serious consequences. There has been an increase of medical personnel performing this procedure, this is called medicalization of FGM, and it is still illegal, unsafe, and unethical.


Trained health professionals who perform female genital mutilation are violating girls' and women's rights to life, physical integrity and health. They are also violating the fundamental medical ethic to "do no harm. - UNFPA

Another thing to consider is the fact that there is no medical support for FGM, and a doctor taking part in it only gives false hope to victims. FGM has no health benefits whatsoever; instead, it removes and damages healthy, normal genital tissue, leaving behind deadly health issues and interfering with girls' natural function of their bodies. We are talking about urinary problems, menstrual problems, sexual problems, and psychological issues, and trauma that the child will have to endure.


It is important that we are all well educated on the subject because female genital mutilation is not new. It has been around for thousands of years, and by ending this practice, we can positively impact the health, education, and lives of girls and women. Even though FGM is mostly discussed in poor rural areas, female mutilation persists among immigrant populations living in Western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The time has always been now to speak up and promote the elimination of female genital mutilation; everyone deserves the right to live with dignity and integrity.

Resources:

https://www.un.org/en/observances/female-genital-mutilation-day

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation

https://www.who.int/teams/sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-research/areas-of-work/female-genital-mutilation/prevalence-of-female-genital-mutilation

https://www.unfpa.org/resources/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-frequently-asked-questions#where_practiced

https://www.endfgm.eu/female-genital-mutilation/what-is-fgm/

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