When we think of circumcision what usually comes to mind is the removal of the foreskin of an infants penis in a clean hospital with sanitized tools. When I think of circumcision I shutter and squirm thinking of the 200+ million young girls and women in various parts of Africa and the middle east whose genitals have been (or will be) mutilated in the name of female circumcision also known as FGM (female genital mutilation).
What’s the big deal, why do I care, and why should you?
According to the World Health Organization:
Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.
An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
Common Health Consequences of Female Circumcision Include:
Damage to other organs
Extreme scar tissue
Painful menstruation cycles
Torn bladder/vaginal walls
Child birth obstruction
Painful sexual intercourse
Inability to experience sexual pleasure
What is Female Circumcision?
Depending on the region and culture female circumcision can include any and/or all of the following:
Removing the hood of the clitoris.
Removing the clitoris.
Removing part or all of the labia minora.
Removing part or all of the labia majoria.
Sewing the vaginal opening closed leaving an extremely small opening for the passing of urine/menstrual blood.
Stretching the clitoris and/or labia
Burning the clitoris and surrounding tissue.
Scraping the vagina.
Inserting acidic substances into the vagina to shrink or narrow the vagina.
These circumcisions are not usually done in a clean hospital with sterile tools (but some are). Many of these circumcisions take place in small villages with stones, razors, scissors, knives, and no anesthetic. Most people cannot even fathom any sharp instrument coming close to their genitalia for any reason. In America, women pierce the hood of their clitoris to intensify sexual pleasure. Its unimaginable that there are parts of the world where women are pressured into removing any part of their PRIVATE parts….
Yes, we are talking about young girls and women being tied up, held down, and having their genitals butchered! This practice is not always done by force… but it is often an expectation (tradition) and a rites of passage. Some believe female circumcision garners respect and honor. This is a frightening practice and a dangerous way to gain respect or acknowledgment as a woman. In all honesty…as an outsider looking in, female genital mutilation seems like an extreme way to dishonor and disrespect a woman…by cutting off and discarding parts of the female anatomy… Who benefits from it? How human would I be if I didn’t ask or care?
While it is never our place to dictate what people do with their bodies or to tell people how or what they should believe… do we not have a duty to educate people so that they are able to make informed decisions? Shouldn’t we do whatever we can to bring awareness and spark discussion surrounding the issue?