WHO defines Female Genital Mutilation as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.
A clearer and more direct description of FMG, according to me, would be – the barbaric practice of cutting female genitalia, a practice entrenched in deep gender inequality that only achieves the aim of violently discriminating against women and depriving them of an equal stand at its most basic level. This inhumane practice is a necessary social norm in African societies since almost 2000 years. The parts are cut because they are considered ugly. It is believed that the practice makes women more prone to fidelity and prevents the possibility of extra-marital sexual acts by reducing a woman’s libido. It is as unquestioned a practice, as say, sending children to school. Not conforming to convention is tantamount to not making one’s daughters ready for adulthood. They are deemed unfit for marriage. It is almost a religious requirement, yet ironically no religious scripts mention the practice.
FMG has become one of those traditions that societies keep continuing with, in a mindless rut without any reason or explanation.
Naturally, there are adverse health impacts including urinal, vaginal and sexual problems. The women are psychologically affected and can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem and confidence, etc. If there are complications during the cutting, among other things like severe pain, swelling and shock, death is also a possibility.
We teach young children that if anybody tries to touch their private parts, or makes them feel uncomfortable in any such way, make noise and stop it immediately. At the same time, young girls are accompanied by their mothers for this brutal event. Without consent, they are betrayed violently, leaving them mentally and emotionally challenged.
FMG doesn’t only take place far away in tribal societies of Africa. Shushed up, it is prevalent in highly progressive and modern societies in India among the Bohra community, a Shia sub sect. Girls aged around six are taken to untrained midwives who perform the task. Mothers are forced to take their daughters by the older women of the community. It is shameful that this is imposed by women on other women, simply to fit in. Brave and courageous women of this community are finally speaking up about this tabooed topic to bring about an end to it and save other innocent lives from this heartless ‘tradition.’
This practice is a violation of human rights. It represents the savage and atrocious side of humanity. We all need to talk about FMG and fight against it not only to save women from this heinous torture but to redeem ourselves as a species, whole.
Picture by: Kunal Raj