Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women as it is almost always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.
Types of FGM
Female genital mutilation is classified into 4 major types.
This is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans (I.e the external and visible part of the clitoris, which is a sensitive part of the female genitals), and/or the prepuce/ clitoral hood (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoral glans).
This is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora (I.e the inner folds of the vulva), with or without removal of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva).
This is also known as infibulation and it is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce/clitoral hood and glans (Type I FGM).
This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
Deinfibulation is the practice of cutting open the sealed vaginal opening of a woman who has been infibulated, which is often necessary for improving health and well-being as well as to allow intercourse or to facilitate childbirth.
FGM has no health benefits whatsoever instead it harms girls and women in many ways than people know. It is not only removing but also damaging the healthy and normal female genital tissue which can interfere with the natural functions of the female body.
Some of the complications of FGM include:
* excessive bleeding (haemorrhage)
* infections e.g., tetanus
* severe pain
* genital tissue swelling
* urinary problems
* injury to surrounding genital tissue
* In some cases, death.
Long-term complications can include:
* urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections);
* vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections);
* 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, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, etc.) and newborn deaths;
* need for later surgeries: for example, the sealing or narrowing of the vaginal opening (Type 3) may lead to the practice of cutting open the sealed vagina later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth (deinfibulation). Sometimes genital tissue is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, 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, low self-esteem, etc.).
How can FGM be corrected/abolished?
1.We need to challenge the discriminatory reasons why FGM is practiced.
The major reason why FGM became a thing in the first place was because of the need to control female sexuality. It was to ensure that a girl behaves properly, saves her virginity until she gets married and then stays faithful to her husband. Why not let these woman decide for themselves?
2. Traditions need to be changed, of course with the help and support of the older generation.
Our mothers and grand mothers need to be educated on the effect, they telling their stories would have when it comes to change these traditions. Only 2 in 10 women enjoy sex in this generation. Why?
We need to educate the general public of the other negative effects FGM has on the female body. How else can we convince them if the older generation doesn’t step up and speak?
3. We need to educate young girls on their right as humans and their right to decide what happens to their body.
More and more children are going to school and learning to think for themselves. No child who is well informed and able to stand up for himself or herself wants the practice of genital cutting to continue. We need medical practitioners, peer group educators, human rights activists out there going to schools and universities, teaching everyone not just woman, even men to stand up for themselves and their sisters, wives, daughters. We need to educate them on it consequences of this harmful act.
4. Spread understanding that religion does not support FGM between religion and traditional practices. They tend to see them as one and the same thing and they’re not. Nowhere in the Holy Bible or Holy Quran does it approve of FGM. Religious speakers need to know what is going on and educate their members/followers on the disadvantages of the act.
5. Keep pushing for FGM to be banned.Grassroots support for an end to FGM will lead to an official ban as cutting, is a violation of children’s rights: the right to physical integrity, the right to good health and the freedom to make your own choices. It even violates a child’s right to be educated. It also puts the girl child on a position to get infection if an unsterilized knife is used.
The biggest struggle against female genital cutting is the passing of legislation that will outlaw it. Then, and only then, will we be able to put an end to FGM.
More people are becoming more and more aware of FGM. Continuous awareness of this evil act will help curb this menace.