Female Genital Cutting Essays Example
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Female genital cutting or female circumcision refers to the surgical removal of some parts of the female genitalia that is performed on the young girls and women living in certain parts of Africa. The Middle East and in smaller areas scattered around the globe. This painful and unjust practice is carried out mostly as a religious obligation on the part of the do-ers and it is practiced with much frequency. The common age range of this procedure is from about four to ten years of age, although it can vary amongst different areas. (McGee 2005). The practice has been banned in a few areas by the political pressures exerted by some forces in Africa, however, there are some places where it is still a norm and considered an obligation to be performed. The social norms and society’s attitude towards girls and women living in these cultures is highly questionable and unacceptable, because of the complications and health issues associated with the females going through this process, which can prove to increase the number of diseases and mortality rates amongst the young girls and women that are ongoing this painful procedure only since it has become a custom, with no evident reasons that support its practice.
In this paper, the causes of Female Genital Cutting, its consequences and its sociological concerns with the practice, control and seizing of the process will be discussed with examples of areas where this practice is most abundant and places where it is controlled and banned to a large degree. Also, the evaluation of this practice as a redundant and unjust one will also be justified, and its effects on the health and lives of women shall also be portrayed.
FEMALE GENITAL CUTTING AND ITS COURSE OF ACTION
Female genital cutting is the process by which either the clitoris is partially or completely removed or clitoridectomy. In its more severe forms the removal of the mon veneris or the area of the vagina that covers the opening of the vulva is scraped and removed off, which is known as infibulation. (McGee 2005). In its origin of practice, this circumcision is considered Sunnah or tradition in the religious approach, that a woman must have her clitoris separated from the vagina in order to prove chaste, innocent and steady for marriage. If, not circumcised, the girl is considered promiscuous, unclean and immoral by the society or tribe. The process is done to mark the passing of a female from girlhood into womanhood and it is an essential part of many tribes and societies that are located in the same breadth of area carrying similar views with each other. The issue under discussion is the gender inequality, unjust treatment of women in society and judging morals of women over a mere surgery. With the advent of better medicinal knowledge, this issue is becoming more professional and is being performed in the hospitals and clinics in the urban areas in the country of Africa. The saddest part of this matter is the obligation that it becomes upon the parents of the girls who need to be circumcised only because it is tradition and not having it done would prove disastrous for their daughter in the future especially when she is wed to someone. They are willing to let their daughter undergo the process even after knowing the evident, prolonged health issues that will persist after this horrendous surgery. (Mitchum 2013).
The procedure is quite a painful and disconcerting one where the girl is required to stretch the skin of the clitoris, so it lengthened enough to be cut off by the excisor. Many girls often state that their mothers were unable to explain to them how to stretch the skin, primarily because they had been circumcised a long time ago.
It is a grueling activity where the stretching of the skin is considered a ‘duty’ of the girl and if the skin is not loose enough to be cut, then she is punished for it, with something like hot baked beans applied to the area to teach the girl a lesson for not doing her job well at night. (McGee 2005). This pain and pressure exerted on these girls at such a young age are thoroughly distressing.
Furthermore, the greater danger lies in the way that the process is exercised upon the girls. It is usually performed with instruments like knives or a saw-like knife used in Mali, or razors and scissors even which are highly unclean and unhygienic. In some places where there are development and hospital facility, the circumcision is performed in a hospital or a clinic with surgical tools and doctors and nurses. Nevertheless, the process is still a harmful one, and it is deemed to bring a countless amount of diseases to the girl since there are no proper medical precautions taken. The rural and backward areas of the country prefer to have a midwife come in to perform the cutting. In some other places, there are male barbers who perform the circumcision which is quite a contrast of values when it comes to morality and its practice. (McGee 2005).
It becomes alarming when one becomes aware of the dangers of this practice and what it puts those females through. Firstly, the process is a painful one because the true ‘spirit’ of this circumcision is when the drop of blood from the circumcised clitoris prepuce is released. (McGee 2005). What follows this process is a number of problems which include infections, diseases, urine retention, reticence of body waste, scarring in the vagina which can lead to discomfort during intercourse and a painful labor followed by complications after giving birth. There is also a great risk of diseases such as Hepatitis B, C, HIV, and AIDS. Not only this, but the process involves quite a significant amount of bleeding at times which are stopped by putting ashes, dirt or ground animal feces onto the wound. This is extremely dangerous for health as it can cause shock, spread of harmful diseases and also cause hemorrhaging. (McGee 2005).
The psychological effects of this are even stronger, in the negative way. Females who are circumcised often feel humiliated, get disturbed and feel betrayed by the loss of their organ, and their insecurity rises to a great level. This is also dangerous for the sexual health of the females to a large degree.
The real reason for the circumcision is for the female to suppress her sexual desire and not feel the urge for sex as blatantly as the opposite sex does. (Ondiek 2010). It is done to confine the role of a woman as an object of sex, even if she may herself not have the urge to do it anymore and to produce children, even if that leaves her with everlasting pain and physical and psychological torment. There have been cases reported where young females have faint yet disturbing memories of how their mothers had held them when an unknown woman would be cutting away at their genitals. Being exposed to such experiences at such a young age are nothing but unsafe for a young individual.
The social view of Female Genital Cutting
Societies that practice this custom usually deem it more as a tradition rather than a religious obligation. Since this practice has been going on for years, hence it has become an everyday phenomenon for these people. Some people of these clans carry the most bizarre and illogical explanation as to why they practice female genital cutting. In parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, this practice was done as a bound duty over the border and regions as it had been going on for centuries. They thoroughly refuted the logical justifications for the irrelevance of this circumcision. In the 1930’s it was deemed even in some parts of Europe that this practice was done in order to alleviate and treat problems of epilepsy and other neurotic disorders in women and to cure those who practiced masturbation. However, it also proved to have many negative effects when these women were exposed to sexual arousal and intercourse, where the urge to copulate was ever decreased, and females rarely wanted to indulge in it. As a consequence, many females were left by their husbands after they gave birth to their first child, probably as a result of dissatisfaction, with the blame on the female that the newborn was not his child. Such practices have been going on for ages with no halt to them.
Studies have revealed that this practice affects over half the young females in Nigeria. Also, their sexual intercourse is deemed as a duty which proves that women are lower in ranking to men, they are their subordinates and this is how they are supposed to live for the rest of their lives.
The sociological aspect of female genital cutting is more spread out and important than its religious implications. It is believed that this process marks the course in a girl’s life from girlhood to womanhood (even if this occurs at the age of seven!). The process also involves the ritualistic songs and dances by men and women from different tribes on this occasion, and it becomes kind of festive in the clan. The young female who has undergone the process receives gifts from all around such as clothes, food, and other items. The girl also is believed to have gained ‘respect’ in this matter and now she is considered moral and upright and fit to be married off and accepted by her husband as faithful. (Mitchum 2013).
However, in a contrary case where a female does not undergo circumcision, the society will view her from a completely different angle. She will be shunned from her family, her tribe and will be judged by everyone as unclean, immoral and wicked. She can also suffer from being lonely all her life and may not be accepted by anyone in taking her hand in marriage. The elders of her clan may also fail to accept her as a part of them, and she will lose all respect and dignity in their eyes. These harsh consequences often force these women to undergo the ruthless procedure.
Then there is the patriarchal society that comes in the view of this entire phenomenon. Many men believe that is not pleasing to the eyes and woman’s beauty that a woman should have the clitoris or external genitalia as it decreases her beauty. In fact, men show pleasure and admiration for women who have been circumcised and apparently loathe those who have not.
There are mixed and strange views related to this occurrence that the removal of the genitalia will help to get rid of female odors and is actually good for the female’s health. Some men also think that the external genitals are harmful to the child during a delivery hence they need to be removed. (Mitchum 2013).
According to an article published in the Pan African News Agency, the actual reason for circumcision went around for the fact that men used to feel suspicious of their women when they used to go out for hunting that they would sleep with some other man in their absence. In order to prevent this from happening, they started circumcising their women so that they could control their women from going towards other men. If this was not done then, the wife would go sleep with another man and would not let her husband sleep in the home. The aim of circumcision was then, to control the sex drive in a woman and make her submissive to her husband. (Mitchum 2013).
It has become a cultural norm that women are supposed to be circumcised. Many tribes that practice female genital cutting are of the view that this helps them preserve their cultural identity, and it is their very identity that distinguishes them from the rest. Be it cultural superiority they feel or is it just a typical patriarchal society; this is up to the tribes’ leaders and their consensus with the rest of the male members of the tribe.
Another sociological aspect of this issue is the ingrained thoughts in the minds of females that they are meant and made for marriages. Marriage is on the top of their list, and they remain strictly adherent to the rules and regulations they are forced with.
Many women think of their circumcision as a way to gain superiority in their group and remain ahead of their peers. They will practice rituals like building huts far off so that they cannot be heard during the process, and they would not prefer taking anesthesia for the painful procedure. The logic they give behind this is that they will not use anesthesia when they will lose their virginity or when they give birth, so it gives the young girls a chance to experience what it is like to become a ‘woman’. (McGee 2005).
The dilemma today is the lack of education, the rigidity and the strict adherence to ancient rites and customs, which prevents these tribes and certain people of some Nations to withdraw from and abolish this practice. Men are not willing to educate girls and women so that they would not speak up against this injustice.
In the era of science and technology where it has been proven that this circumcision is completely baseless, there are people who are unwilling to open their minds to this and remain deaf to the plight of these girls and women who often die of this torturous procedure. Then it boils down to the actions and measures were taken by the state, the World Health Organization, and Human Rights spokespeople to come forth and put an end to this ruthless custom.
Prevalence of female circumcision in the world
In many countries of the world, this practice exists even today. The rates of circumcision being performed on young girls below the ages of twelve include Egypt, Sudan, Somalia and central African republics. There are countries that perform circumcision on infants and children below one year of age such as Mali and Eritrea.
The amount of circumcisers who are professionally involved in circumcision and are practicing this widely in certain countries include twenty-eight percent people from Mali, ninety-one percent people from Eritrea, and ninety-two percent people from Somalia. As opposed to these statistics, the amount of healthcare givers who should actually be exercising the circumcision is quite low and this shows the trust or faith that these people have in doctors or nurses or other paramedics who need to be present at such a surgery. In Mali, the rate is only two percent, in Eritrea it is only a point two percent, in Sudan it is thirty-five point six percent, Egypt has seventeen point eight percent and Somalia carries only six point five percent of hospital and clinical aids. This is alarming for the world since, without proper care and safe surgery of these girls and women, the amount of disease and mortality will definitely rise to great amounts. (Ondiek 2010).
Measures to curb the issue of female genital cutting
It is now in the hands of the world’s political and health related organizations to tackle this issue with immense serious concern since the lives of many girls and women are lost to something very vile and baseless in the modern world. When there isn’t any logic of an act then there needn’t be the implementation of something so fatal to innocent women who need to give life whatever is their potential.
The human rights law states that the torture of any female individual on the basis of taking away an organ which is not prone to cause harm rather that its removal will cause the individual extreme mental, physical and sexual anguish needs to be abolished and is condemned by the human rights commission. (Odeku 2014).
The African charter itself states that human life is sacred, and every human being should be respected and treated with dignity. In Article 5 of the charter, it is clearly stated that any torture, harm or cruel treatment to any living being is condemned and prohibited. (Odeku 2014). In this respect, female genital cutting is illegal and disregarded thoroughly, and strict measures must be taken in order to condemn and stop it completely. According to Amnesty International, this is prohibited the use of dirty knives and unhygienic instruments used on each of the girls, it causes the spread of fatal and harmful diseases which is a condemnable act and proscribed by all human rights speakers. However, the irony of the matter remains that there is money-making involved in the process of circumcision, and this means that the higher level of political interests will always exist, and it is a near dream that these females will be alleviated. Yet the world, the west and all those against this brutality speaks out and condemns this downright.
Female genital cutting is an inhumane act of torture inflicted on women only to maintain some supposed customs and traditions that have no basis to them. To deprive women of their rights, to maltreat them and then not let them live against their will is a depiction of a male dominating society that only fulfils its desires to stay dominating and reign upon their women. However, to take strict measures against this, educate women and children and implement punishments upon individuals practicing this is the only way to curb the issue.
Boyle, Elizabeth Heger. 2002. “Female Genital Cutting.” Cultural Conflict in the Global Community. 11-36
Lee, Susan Hagood. 2007. “Female Genital Mutilation” Black well reference online. N.pag.
Mitchum, Preston, D. 2013. “Scholarly Commons Law.” Slapping the hand of cultural relativism: Female Genital Mutilation, male dominance and health as a human rights framework. 19(3). 1-28
Ondiek, Concellia Aoko. 2010. “The persistence of female genital mutilation (fgm) and its impact on women’s access to education and empowerment” 3-127
Scholarship. 2015. “Law” On female genital mutilation. 6-11
Unicef . 2014. “Publications.” Insight . N.pag.
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