Why Does Female Circumcision Take Place And What Are The Risks?
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With the increase in immigration around the world, female circumcision, once regarded as a problem in only less developed countries, has begun to become an issue in nations with no history of it. Because of this it now has a significantly higher profile than it did just a few years ago, and with good reason. It’s a practice that damages millions of girls and women around the world and needs to be stopped.
There are many reasons behind the practice of female circumcision. It’s a complex issue and not one that can be easily pigeonholed. Some of the reasons include:
·Tradition And Social Pressures. For most groups that practise female circumcision the procedure is an old and ingrained tradition, and like many such things is very difficult to dislodge. Many inaccurate reasons for carrying out the operation are disseminated down the generations and a lack of education means that it continues unchallenged. To go against it can risk alienation from the community and tensions with the family, often resulting in violence.
·Preservation Of Virginity/Chastity. The belief that female circumcision decreases libido and therefore means that girls are less likely to engage in pre-marital sex is a major force behind its continued existence. Having a daughter who marries as a virgin is a large part of preserving family honour in the cultures that practise female genital mutilation.
·Belief That It Is A Religious Requirement. In no religious text are their details or guidelines for female circumcision, and it is not prescribed by any religion. However many community leaders will use religion as a justification and the pressure of conformity ensures that most people go along with it.
There are other reasons for the continued existence of female circumcision but they all share one common factor: an inherent imbalance in the power relationship between men and women.
Female circumcision carries with it absolutely no benefits for women. None. But it does have a lot of risks, both physical and psychological.
·Severe Pain. The procedure is usually carried out by a woman who has no medical training and uses implements such as razor blades or even glass to perform the cuts. Little or no pain relief medication will be provided before, during or after. This pain does not truly abate and continues to be experienced through life, during sex and childbirth.
·High Risk Of Infection. Due to the above reason infection rates after female circumcision are very high. Infection can occur at the site of incisions but can spread to surrounding tissues and even affect the bowels. Again this risk of infection continues throughout life, with uterine, vaginal and pelvic infections being particularly common.
·Higher Rates Of Complications During Childbirth. Women and girls who have been subjected to female circumcision are at double the risk of dying during childbirth and have a much higher likelihood of their child dying during birth.
·Psychological Damage. Victims of female circumcision report severe psychological trauma that haunts them for the rest of their lives. The memory of the procedure often results in post-traumatic stress disorder, and if they have been subjected to type 3 cutting, where the vagina is sewn shut and then cut open and re-sewn for intercourse and during childbirth, the trauma is enacted multiple times throughout her life. Studies have shown that those who undergo the procedure have lower self-esteem, higher levels of anxiety, greater risk of depression and more personality disorders.
The only way to tackle female circumcision is by educating the
communities that practise it, providing support to those at risk
or who have been victims and lobbying governments to outlaw it
and clamp down on those who continue to violate the rights of
girls and women around the world.
To find out more and see how you can help, visit Plan UK http://www.plan-uk.org/female-genital-mutilation-fgm/