#146 ~ Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting is defined by the World Health Organisation as the total or partial removal of external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for a non-medical reason. It is a procedure that can occur recently after birth of just before puberty, often without anaesthetics but with a traditional circumcision knife or razor. Occurring in over 26 countries predominantly in North-east Africa, were 92million women are expected to have been affected, it is also prominent in parts of the Middle East, and North America, Australasia and European immigrant communities.

FGM is a process that some cultures administer in the attempts to reduce a woman’s libido and reduce promiscuity. This can be to ensure familial honour, and also reduce the spreading of disease. Historically it has ben condoned to insure female chastity and prevent adultery. This is because the pain of penetration is so great, that the act of sex stops being something to enjoy and becomes a violent, at times excruciating experience which can be magnified in childbirth.

Circumcision is practiced within the three Abrahamic Faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) although it is not a precept of any of the faiths, and rather an incorporation of older cultural ideologies into modern social norms. Judaism endorses male circumcision, the removal of the foreskin, but not female. Some Islamic scholars have declared FGM neither an obligation nor a part of the faith, even condemning it to criminal status that has resulted in fatwas being declared on those who’ve practiced it.

There are four types of removal that can occur in FGM.

The first and second involve the removal of the clitoris and sometimes the labia. The third involves removal of all external genitalia. In order for this to heal, the girl’s legs are tied together for forty days. Consider the pain, discomfort and UTI’s that will occur during this period as she attempts to urinate. A hole, which can be as small as a matchstick,  remains for the menstrual blood and urine to exit as the scar tissue that forms is so prolific. The vulva, is then cut open for childbirth and intercourse. Fatal haemorrhaging can occur during childbirth and often results in death. Sometimes the scar tissue and the keloids that form are so thick, penetration cannot occur. In order to enable the penis to fit, over a range of days the scar tissue is cut away until a large enough hole is created. Sometimes scalpels have broken in this process. The fourth type of FGM includes ceremonial cutting of the clitoris which occurs in Indonesia, burning or stretching the labia, and even the forced removal of the hymen.

The cutting devices are rarely sterilised, the process done without anaesthetic and without the child’s consent. I wish to stress the point that this procedure is taken out on children, either immediately after birth, or before they reach puberty, so around the age of nine or so. STI’s as well as UTI’s can be transmitted, and extreme bleeding is common. Cysts may form later in life, as well as severe keloid scarring. Sometimes the cutting required to create a hole for menstrual blood and urine can lead to a joining of the anal hole, causing faeces to seep into the vagina. A higher percentage of women die in childbirth.

An estimated 500 British girls will be circumcised this summer. Stoicism is expected. The women of the family and community come to hold the girl down. They can’t tell they’re having periods. With nowhere to go, the blood is sitting in their bodies. Many women are now infertile. It’s not done out of hate or religion, but a wrong concept of religion and chastity.

Recent reports have confirmed that cutters are being flown into Britain to ‘administer’ FGM. No-one has ever been charged in the UK. Some women desire for gynaecologists to be in airports to check and therefore enable prosecution.

This post is ending here because I’m too distressed to continue. Below are links to further your research into this issue.

Home Office Information

FORWARD: Charity for the prevention of FGM

Article by the Guardian and a Video of FGM ‘survivors” speaking out about the issue. 

A Silent Circumcision 

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