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Female Genital Mutilation
Transcript of Female Genital Mutilation
What is FGM?
Procedure involving the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia.
FGM is carried out with knives, scissors, and scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades.
The mutilation is usually done without anesthetics.
Is irreversible, extremely painful, and usually done to young girls.
Instruments are usually not sterile.
Mortality is high.
The purpose of FGM is to curb the sexual desire of girls and women and preserve their "sexual honor" before marriage.
Also for religious cultural reasons such as:
custom and tradition
religion; in the mistaken belief that it is a religious requirement.
preservation of chastity/virginity
social acceptance, especially for marriage.
hygiene and cleanliness
increasing sexual pleasure for the male
The purpose of FGM is to curb the sexual desire of girls and women and preserve their “sexual honor” before marriage.
Also for religious, cultural reasons such as:
custom and tradition
religion; in the mistaken belief that it is a religious requirement
preservation of virginity/chastity
social acceptance, especially for marriage
hygiene and cleanliness
increasing sexual pleasure for the male
a sense of belonging to the group and conversely the fear of social exclusion
Many women believe that FGM is necessary to ensure acceptance by their community.
They are unaware that FGM is not practiced in most of the world.
the procedure is traditionally carried out by an older woman with no medical training. Often by traditional midwives and occasionally by healers.
Performed with or without anesthesia.
The practice is usually carried out using basic tools such as knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass and razor blades.
Often iodine or a mixture of herbs is placed on the wound to tighten the vagina and stop the bleeding.
It is often conducted inside the girl's family home.
It may also be performed by the local male barber, who assumes the role of health worker.
Type 1: Clitoridectomy
Type I of Female Genital Mutilation: often termed clitoridectomy, involves excision of the skin surrounding the clitoris.
The WHO's Type I is subdivided into two. Type Ia is the removal of the clitoral hood, which is rarely, performed alone. More common is Type Ib (clitoridectomy), the partial or total removal of the clitoris, along with the prepuce. (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris)
The clitoris is the most sensitive erogenous zone of the human female, and the main cause of her sexual pleasure. It is a small erectile part of the female genitalia. Upon being stimulated, the clitoris produces sexual excitement, clitoral erection, and orgasm.
Type 2: Excision
Suzan Izett and Nahid Toubia of RAINBO, in a 1998 report for the WHO, wrote: "the clitoris is held between the thumb and index finger, pulled out and amputated with one stroke of a sharp object. Bleeding is usually stopped by packing the wound with gauzes or other substances and applying a pressure bandage. Modern trained practitioners may insert one or two stitches around the clitoral artery to stop the bleeding."
Type II is partial or total removal of the clitoris and inner labia, with or without removal of the outer labia. (the labia are "the lips" that surround the vagina).
Type 3: Infibulation
Is the removal of all external genitalia and the fusing of the wound, leaving a small hole (2-3mm) for the passage of urine and menstrual blood.
The inner and outer labia are cut away, with or without excision of the clitoris.
A pinhole is created by inserting something into the wound before it closes, such as a twig or rock salt.
The wound may be sutured with surgical thread, or agave or acacia thorns may be used to hold the sides together.
According to a 1982 study in Sudan, eggs or sugar might be used as an adhesive.
Type 4: Unclassified
A variety of procedures are known as Type IV, which the WHO defines as "all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes.
All other operations of FGM include:
incision into vaginal wall
scraping - (angurya cuts) or cutting (gishiri cuts) of the vagina
and surrounding tissues
cauterization (burning the clitoris and surrounding tissues)
Introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina.
FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many
ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies.
Immediate complications can include:
shock (can be caused by pain and/or hemorrhage)
hemorrhage (bleeding, could be fatal)
tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection)
urine retention (inability to urinate)
Long-term consequences can include:
recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections;
Keloid (excessive scar tissue)
abscesses (is a collection of pus that has accumulated within a tissue because of an inflammatory process in response to either an infectious process or other foreign materials. It is a defensive reaction of the tissue to prevent the spread of infectious materials to other parts of the body.)
and genital ulcers can develop, with superficial loss of tissue
neuroma formation; nerves that supplied the clitoris.
Vaginal and pelvic infections
pain during sexual intercourse
an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths
Type III FGM are more likely to have more surgeries later in life to help open the vaginal hole for penetration and for birth of children.
post-traumatic stress disorder
fear of sexual intercourse
In addition, feelings of shame and betrayal can develop when the women move outside their traditional circles and learn that their condition is not the norm.
They are more likely to report painful sexual intercourse and reduced sexual feelings, but FGM does not necessarily destroy
Who is at risk?
The age at which the practice is carried out varies, from shortly after birth to the labor of the first child, depending on the community or individual family.
The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and among migrants from these areas.
The common age for most girls who undergo FGM are between the ages of 7 and 10 years old.
However, FGM seems to be occurring at earlier ages in several countries because parents want to reduce the trauma to their children. They also want to avoid government interference and/or resistance from children as they get older and form their
Where is this happening?
“Although FGM/C transcends geography, it is primarily practiced among various ethnic groups in more than 28 countries in Africa, usually on girls under the age of 15 years (UNICEF 2005; WHO 2006). Recent national figures for African countries show a prevalence of FGM/C of more than 70% in countries like Burkina Faso, Egypt,”(Eva Denison).
“In Guinea, where 97% of all women undergo female genital mutilation, about 150 communities made a declaration to collectively abandon the practice at the beginning of this year."  (Wakabi, W).
Why does this happen?
There are a few reasons why mothers and fathers have their daughters go through FGM:
Prevent promiscuity/ Keep woman faithful
It is believed in certain cultures that an uncircumcised female is taboo, also it is performed to prevent promiscuity, “recent media stories highlight the fact that some U.S. immigrants from FGM/FC-practicing countries consider it important to continue to observe this custom; in fact, some parents have been quoted as saying that they wanted it done so their daughters did not become as "wild" as U.S. women,” ( Behrendt, Alice).
Many believed that “circumcision allow safe delivery during reproductive age, babies would die on making contact with the clitoris during delivery and as part of initiation rites to womanhood. Although ridiculous, these were strongly believed by the Edo people which tally with the results of earlier researches conducted among other ethnic groups in Nigeria,” (Osifo, David).
Tradition, the most often cited justification, warrants FGM as an 'initiation', `to teach the young girl her duties and desirable characteristics as a wife and mother'.
This is clearly capable of interpretation as dominance - the imposition of a constructed role on women. The `psycho-sexual' response is centered on `controlling women's sexuality', ensuring chastity, discouraging `women's promiscuity' by reducing sensitivity and desire for sex, and for increasing the pleasure of men. This is clearly a dominance relationship, ( McLaughlin, Rob).
It was observed that FGM is becoming less important for marital reasons, but men still seem to prefer marriage to circumcised women in a study performed by Missailidis. Women would abandon FGM, which carries no value to them, if it were not expected by men. Men, on the other hand, who are not involved in the actual act of FGM, seem prepared to marry a woman of their choice, provided the community does not demand otherwise of them. Society acts as a mechanism supporting the roles of men and women in a vicious circle that maintains FGM. (Missailidis, K).
It was reported that FGM/FC reduced (obviously) woman’s sexual desire. In a study performed to test how FGM/FC affects sexual functioning, it was found that for the outcome ‘sexual desire’, “ the result showed that women with FGM/C were twice as likely to report that they experienced no desire compared to women without FGM/C, ( Eva Denison).
“Despite the poor response from some governments, at least 16 African countries have passed laws banning female genital mutilation, and in November, 2005, the African Protocol on Rights of Women came into force, which Mohamed says was a major milestone in the fight against the practice. The protocol condemns and bans female genital mutilation, (Wakabi, W).”
In recent years, the practice of female genital mutilation, or female circumcision (FGM/FC), has come to the attention of the American public. After several unsuccessful attempts beginning in 1993, the U.S. House and Senate passed legislation in 1996 making it a crime to perform FGM/FC in the United States on girls under 18 years of age. (Jones, Wanda).
There are two distinct aspects covering the involvement of the Islamic Religion with the Female Genital Mutilation process.
The first is that the Islamic Religion does not in fact require the FGM process but enforces it, in order to enhance male over female domination.
The second that the FLC (Female Leadership Community) is eager to tell all is that the FGM process is not inspired by religion only justified by it.
"FGM/C is an African practice whose origins are obscure and for many form a part of the traditional initiation rites into womanhood. A girl cannot be considered as an adult in certain tribes unless she has undergone FGMC. It was described by Herodotus (500 BC) as being practiced by the Phoenicians, Hittites, Ethiopians and Egyptians. There are a number of reasons why this practice continues today, including chastity, religion, culture, aesthetics and hygiene and socio-economic factors. Almost all of these are linked to girls' social status and marriageability. In the end it all comes down to power over women."- The struggle for abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Egypt
Religious Debate Today
Female Genital Mutilation is still to this day a controversial subject amongst religious debates, along with any form of circumcision whether it be male or female.
Even though there have been many ideas and theories on the origins of FGM, there "There's no way of knowing the origins of FGM, it appears in many different cultures, from Australian aboriginal tribes to different African societies"- medical historian David Gollaher, president and CEO of the California Healthcare Institute (CHI), and the author of "Circumcision," told Discovery News.
It is important to understand that there are no religious affiliations to this procedure and that it is not based off religious text the practice is a cultural tradition.
Reason or Explanations
initiation into woman hood
preparation for the pain of childbirth
and prevention of woman's temptation toward adultery
"While attempting to defend their cultures, feminists of color sometimes wind up supporting the continued oppression of women who do not want to be “circumcised” or to “circumcise” their daughters...This is equivalent to the abandonment of the pursuit of women’s struggle for equality."- Cultural Rights or Human Rights: The Case of Female Genital Mutilation
1. Where is Female Genital Mutilation most prominent?
2. What are some reasons that FGM is performed?
3. Do religious text specifically call for the exercising of FGM?
1. Many regions of Africa.
2. Religious beliefs, to reduce the woman's sexual desire and promiscuity, and to show male dominance over the woman. Also, some cultures believe that uncircumcised genitals are disgusting, and if girls are not circumcised they will be unmarrigable.
3. Religious text do not specifically call for the exercise of FGM;although it is used to support the practice.