Female Genital Mutation is partial or complete removal of the female external genitalia which includes mons pubis–fatty tissue over the pubic bone, labia, clitoris, and the vaginal and urethral openings. The process is inspired and followed by religious beliefs in certain immigrant communities of the world like Guinea, Europe, North America, and Africa. The painfully barbarous act causes severe and significant long-term physical and psychological problems. Here’s everything the world needs to know about FGM and why it should be stopped.
11 important facts about Female Genital Mutation:
- Communities following Female Genital Mutation believe that the ghastly process is a “good tradition” and is a necessary rite to sign the passage of womanhood.
- Traditional acceptance of FGM is driven by male jingoist reasons like–It ensures cleanliness, invites better marriage prospects, facilitates childbirth (widening of the birth canal), preserves virginity and enhances male sexuality.
- According to a survey, FGM was widely opposed by protestants in Kenya and Sierra Leone but was surprisingly supported by Catholics and Muslims in its outrageous continuation.
- Men who pursue or believe in FGM, often refuse to marry a girl who denied or hasn’t undergone the FGM procedure, which contributes to one of the many why it is still being allowed and followed in parts of rural and certain urban communities in the world.
- FGM is predominantly performed by traditional practitioners using sharp stones, scissors, broken glass, unsterilized razor blades, or sharp knives that are typically unclean and contaminated.
- In Eygpt, more than 54% of girls are most likely to undergo this procedure, which is primarily being done by either their mothers, female circumcisers, or medical practitioners like midwives, nurses or even doctors.
- In cases where FGM is performed under unhygienic conditions, i.e. traditionally, girls or even baby girls during and after the process face severe bleeding, unbearable pain, complete loss of sensitivity, infertility, complications during childbirth, urine retention, and recurring infections.
- FGM is performed in three symbolic ways like- clitoridectomy (partial and complete cutting of clitoris–impossible to bear without anesthesia), an excision (outer and inner lips and clitoris is completely cutoff) and infibulation (external genital parts are repositioned, the opening of valva is narrowed, sealed, stapled and sewed).
- The shameful practice of FGM predates in all religions and history has been evidence of it, as many mummified bodies of pharaohs princesses had sewed genitals.
- More than 200 million women and girls alive today have been cut off in nearly 30 countries of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
- Although FGM is a violation of human rights of women and girls, it is carried out amongst infant to girls of age 15. FGM in girls above 15 is done in a lesser ratio, as traditional practitioners experience consistent revolt from them (younger girls are less aware so they become peaceful victims of the process).
What are the effects and health risks of FGM?
It is estimated that nearly 1/3rd girls who undergo FGM die instantly or consequently after the process. However, the actual number is not known, but it is estimated that communities with FGM victims have the highest maternal and infant mortality rates. Few conservative reports suggest that nearly one million girls or more in Egypt, Central African Region, and Eritrea have experienced adverse health conditions after undergoing Female Genital Mutilation. Here are a few:
Immediate physical problems:
- Intense pain or hemorrhage can result in shock after the process or during the process. It is suggested that almost 13% of women go in shock after the process.
- Hemmorrga often leads to Amenia.
- In case, the process is performed by unskilled professionals or done by using blunt instruments, then adjoining organs can be damaged.
- Urine retention, which is a consequence of swelling or blockage of the urethra.
- Tetanus, or wound infection (Fatal in 50-60 percent of the time).
Long-term health complications:
- Painful, blocked or abnormal menstruation.
- Recurrent UTIs or urinary tract infections.
- Increased risk of child and maternal mortality or morbidity due to obstructed labor. Few women who had undergone FGM are likely to die during childbirth or give birth to a stillborn.
- Psychological effects of FGM include anxiety, psychosomatic illness, and continued depression.
- FGM also increases the risk of HIV infection or any other communicable disease which is often acquired from using unsterilized instruments.
- Female Genital Mutation often impedes sexual enjoyment as a result of destruction from vulval nerve endings. Delayed arousals and impaired orgasms are other side-effects of FGM.
How many countries practice FGM?
The latest report by UNICEF indicates that the prevalence of FGM has decreased by a wide-ratio since 2013, but still, parts of Jordan, Oman, Syria, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Migrant communities of Europe, North America, and Australia, continue to follow the practice, both traditionally and medically.
How can we stop FGM?
Majority of men help continue the ghastly practice of FGM as they refuse to marry women or girls who haven’t undergone FGM. Although FGM prevalence rate is slowly declining in some countries, still parts of Africa and the Middle East continue to obey this traditional paradox. There is a slow change in attitude and many women undergo FGM voluntarily through doctors, which makes the goal far from being achieved. Considering how deeply ingrained this ghastly practice is in the social fabric, a drastic change in attitude is required which can only be achieved through educating the lower end of the society, stamping the activity as a criminal offense (even voluntary women should be refused the procedure), verbal surveys, self-reporting, and spreading awareness.
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