To round up this series, just posting current information on this practice.
This entire process would obviously be a traumatic experience for any girl. For some, it leads to life-long phobia whereas it produces erotophobia (fear of sex) in others leading to a strong sexual block that might take years of therapy to overcome. Since most of these circumcisions are done informally by unqualified women, they lead to infections that could lead to serious diseases. Chronic pain, burning during urinations, bleeding and kidney problems occur quite frequently among the victims of this practise. In some cases, even diseases such as AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis are passed on to the girl children. Menstruation is sometimes delayed due to the closing of the vaginal passage and in many cases, the blood collects in the womb if the vagina is not reopened.
It is often believed that FGM is a practice in the Islam-dominated places of Africa. However, there is nothing in the religion advocating female circumcision. From a UNICEF report regarding FMG,
FGM/C is not prescribed by any religion. This is not, however, the general perception, especially regarding Islam. Although there is a theological branch of Islam that supports FGM/C of the sunna type, the Koran contains no text that requires the cutting of the female external genitalia, and it is widely accepted that the practice was current in Sudanese or Nubian populations before Islam. Moreover, the majority of Muslims around the world do not practice FGM/C. There is no evidence of the practice in Saudi Arabia and it is not found in several North African Muslim countries, including Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia
However, this has not meant that some religious leaders have not tried to use it as a means to suppress women. The Egyptian Sunni Muslim Imam Sheikh Gad el Haqq issued a fatwa in 1995 recommending the mutilation of young girls “because of mixing of the sexes at public gatherings. If the girl is not circumcised, she subjects herself to multiple causes of excitation leading her to vice and perdition in a depraved society”.
According to the Inter Parliamentary Union, Female Genital Mutilation is practised in Australia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda as part of cultural practices. Other than these, the populations from these countries that have emigrated to other countries such as Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland continue this practice there, thus spreading FGM gradually to other countries.
An estimated 100 to 140 million girls are mutilated over the world. As we have seen, this practice was exclusive to Africa, and more particularly, Sub-Saharan Africa, but with mobile populations, it has spread to the Middle East, Asia and Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Every year 3 million girls in these places face genital mutilation.
In spite of the widespread nature of FGM, only 19 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia) have passed laws against it. A few European countries (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom) where the practice is prevalent have also legislated against it. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and USA also have laws against FGM.
Fight against FGM
The good news is that there is a strong fight going on against female genital mutilation by several international and local organisations. The World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) are at the forefront of this struggle against this practise that demeans women.
At the local level, individual Governments and women’s organisations help in spreading the message. In some places, even doctors contribute to the cause by engaging in discussion with pro-FGM patients. In addition, some Christian missionaries have contributed to the cause by speaking up against it and encouraging their parishes to say no to this custom.
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