What is Female Genital Mutilation?
The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for the end of Female Genital Mutilation to create a more equitable world for women and girls. Girls as young as four undergo the torture of Female Genital Mutilation, which has been recognized internationally as a human rights violation. Female genital mutilation has four main types. The first type is the partial or complete removal of the clitoral glans; the second type is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora. The third type essentially creates a seal by closing the vaginal opening, including removing the clitoris. The other form contains any procedures that cause unnecessary harm to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes.
Why Is Female Genital Mutilation Practiced?
Female genital mutilation is practiced because some cultures view it as a way to control female sexuality. By regulating female sexuality, girls are more likely to stay virgins before marriage. If they are virgins when they reach marrying age, they will be worth more and receive more suitors. There is no evidence suggesting that a girl’s sexuality can be controlled by removing her clitoris, rendering this procedure unnecessarily cruel and unnecessary. It points to the broader issue of women and girls being reduced to merely their hymens, dehumanizing them as these sex-crazed creatures who must be mutilated to resist their primitive urges.
This cruel procedure’s prominent medicalization makes it more legitimate, as many physicians in practicing countries perform or even recommend the process. However, even in countries where Female Genital Mutilation is practiced, it is still practiced widely if it’s criminalized. Like mothers and grandmothers, people that girls trust pin them down and mutilate them if doctors are no longer permitted to perform it.
Female Genital Mutilation contributes to the culture engineered by the global patriarchy, that a woman’s sexuality is not her own. The notion that the state, society, family, all have a say in what resides between a woman’s legs further legitimizes how the oppression of women runs deep and is multifaceted.
Why Is It Considered A Human Rights Violation?
Profound and unnecessary suffering arises from the practice of female genital mutilation. There is nothing wrong with female genitalia requiring mutilation to correct. This practice is done solely in an attempt to control and dehumanize women and girls.
According to the World Health Organization, the immediate side effects of female genital mutilation are severe pain, excessive bleeding (hemorrhage), genital tissue swelling, fever, infections, e.g., tetanus, urinary problems, wound healing problems, injury to surrounding genital tissue, shock, and death. Long-term effects are urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections), vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis, and other conditions), menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.); scar tissue and keloid; sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.); increased risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, cesarean section, etc.) and newborn deaths; the need for later surgeries. Sometimes genital tissue is stitched several times again, including after delivery; hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing both immediate and long-term risks; psychological problems (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.).
Female Genital Mutilation Statistics
According to the World Health Organization, here are some shocking rates and consequences of Female Genital Mutilation:
- FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, and complications in childbirth, and increased risk of newborn deaths.
- Over 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, where FGM is concentrated
- FGM is usually performed on young girls between infancy and age 15.
Treatment of health complications of FGM in 27 high prevalence countries costs 1.4 billion USD per year.