The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Female genital mutilation has been practiced for centuries. Its roots may be traced back to the fifth century BC, firmly anchoring the tree of oppression in the soil of gender inequality. FGM is a barbaric practice that involves partly or completely removing or cutting the female genitalia. It is carried out under the pretext of cultural and religious reasons. Despite technological and scientific developments, the persistence of this practice brings disgrace to us as a species.
FGM is more than simply a form of torture or a deplorable practice. It embodies the attitude that attempts to drive women down and submit to societal rules created for and by a subset of humans. It is a type of tyranny that attempts to control a woman’s body and wants while undermining her human dignity. It is performed in different countries in Africa, Europe, and Asia, but it is most common in Egypt, Mali, Djibouti, and Guinea, where 90% of women aged 15 to 49 have fallen victim to this heinous crime.
Even though the exact number of those who have undergone this practice is unknown, approximately 200 million females have been victims of FGM to date and perpetrators show no sign of stopping. This presumed number is even higher than the combined population of developed countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Australia. According to numerous research, “every 11 seconds, a girl undergoes FGM,” emphasizing the need of addressing this issue.
The proponents of FGM present several justifications to legitimize their conduct, claiming it to be a religious or cultural rite. Two of the most common arguments are as follows:
- The measure for loyalty: Many communities practice FGM under the myth that it will save the family’s honor and reserve her for a single man only by making her chaste and guaranteeing faithfulness from one side of the relationship only. This practice is also backed up by religious reasons like finding a spouse easily, high morality and virginity, etc.
• The passageway to womanhood: It is considered a passageway to womanhood for a female and this ritual is imbibed so deeply into the history and mindsets of certain cultures that without FGM, a female is not considered a woman in some places. She is treated as dirty,impure and other to a point where young girls feel pressure to become a woman as soon as possible, not even knowing the true meaning of the term and its consequences.
FGM techniques differ between locations, such as pricking, piercing, incision, and so forth. Some cases of FGM are so painful that many of the girls die on the spot while those who survive suffer from a variety of factors. Since the goal is to ensure no woman can take pleasure from sex, the clitoris glans and labia minora are completely removed and the vaginal area is stitched back leaving only a small hole through which the women is expected to urinate, menstruate, have sexual intercourse, and give birth to babies, which is nearly impossible and extremely painful.
FGM’s aftermath is exceedingly uncomfortable and life-threatening for women, not only physically but also emotionally, because it is very distressing, leaving a deep spine-chilling scar on the woman’s mind and body. Many survivors suffer from mental problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, postnatal depression, somatic disorders, and so on. They are also unable to trust or rely on anybody for assistance because they were led into this hell by those they trusted the most.
It’s disheartening to see that even today, people’s views are surrendering to these fallacies, and it’s even more upsetting to learn that this harmful activity is carried out in the majority of cases by medical health experts.
There is no doubt that some steps are being taken on a large scale by various NGOs, foundations, and international platforms such as the UN, which has inspired many survivors to come out into the spotlight and share their stories with the world, as well as awarding millions of people all over the world. Some of the inspirers, or survivors of FGM, such as Leyla Hussein, Hibo, and others, have provided a safe environment for millions of individuals who have gone through the same ordeal and have taken a significant steps toward ending this kind of sexual assault.
The United Nations has declared February 6th as the International Day for Zero Tolerance Against Female Genital Mutilation.
Even though these efforts have been extremely beneficial in raising awareness throughout the world, the pace of progress toward ending this cycle has been slow. To accelerate progress, we as aware citizens of this world must take the responsibility of beginning to raise awareness among those around us for a healthy and safe world.