Female Genital Mutilation Continues
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It’s not very well publicised in the West but Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a very widespread barbarian practice carried out under the guise of cultural tradition. This bestial activity which usually involves the removal of the clitoris with crude implements or even razor blades and broken glass is primarily but not exclusively justified by Islamic teaching. Most Muslims will argue that FGM is only insisted upon by fringe elements or what Westerners might better understand as fundamentalists.
However, if it is indeed a “fringe“ activity, one has to wonder why are there still 140 million victims worldwide. Children’s charities and women’s rights campaigners complain that their efforts to have FGM officially outlawed in countries where it is prevalent have largely been successful but there is still a major problem with enforcement, particularly in remote areas.
It seems that, as always, there is a suspicion that Islam continues to imbue a strong degree of misogynysm and that anything that keeps females subjugated can’t really be interfered with. North Eastern Africa and Indonesia are still hotbeds of FGM and it doesn’t help when one of Sunni Islam’s “Four Great Imams,” Ahmad ibn Hanbal, quotes Muhammed as saying: “Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.”
Even countries in West Africa which are not even heavily muslim are rife with FGM practices which are unbelievably still legal in Sierra Leone. It would appear that African nations which were once so vehemently opposed to apartheid based on colour aren’t quite so scrupulous when it comes to gender apartheid.
Meanwhile, the horror goes on with girls and young women suffering painful humiliation which invariably means that they are:twice as likely to die during childbirth more likely to give birth to a stillborn baby than other women as a result of obstructed labour more susceptible to obstetric fistula (a severe medical condition that leads to incontinence) more susceptible to uterine, vaginal and pelvic infections more prone to suffering psychological damage and post-traumatic stress likely to suffer extensive damage of the external reproductive system and sexual dysfunction.
International charities who continue to tackle this problem head-on have found that one of the best ways to change attitudes is by educating girls themselves to recognise their rights and to stand up for them. Experience shows that keeping them in school for as long as possible makes them more assertive and able to pass on appropriate advice to their own daughters.
Photo: © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1859/TANYA BINDRA
MALI, 2012 Women attend a sensitization session on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), in Bamako, the capital. The session is run by the UNICEF partner and local NGO Sini Sanuma.