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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Understanding Female Genital Mutilation

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I remember back in Nigeria, I heard and read bits about Female Genital Mutilation otherwise known as FGM. At the time, I must admit I didn't really understand or should I say pay too much attention to what it actually involves other than it was a procedure that was  performed on young girls to prevent them from becoming promiscuous later in life.

Only recently it came up in conversation and my wife did explain to me that it basically involves cutting out some external parts of the female genital organ. I was also made to understand there are alternative methods used instead of cutting. It involves dipping a piece of cloth into hot water which is then applied at intervals spanning days or even weeks to serve similar purpose to FGM but without having to cut anything. I know this is a taboo subject for some people but we need to talk about these issues to understand them better.

I've done a few bit of research since that time which seem to corroborate what she rightly told me. The World Health Organisation's website also provides some very useful information covering all aspects of the practice.

What worries me is that the intention of those who carry out the procedure is to limit sexual pleasure and in doing so aim to achieve their purpose of making their victims less likely to become promiscuous. I haven't read or come across any research that links female genitalia to sexual promiscuity. Even if their was any, individuals have a choice of how they choose to live their sexual lives but that is a topic for another day.

What really struck me and in fact spurred me into blogging about this issue is that just today (22/04/12), reports in the UK media seem to suggest there may well be over 100,000 victims of this practice in the UK. The practice is thought to be rife among African and some Asian communities.

Despite legislation and a possible 14 year jail term for anyone engaged or arrange to engage in the practice, it seems, it still hasn't deterred the practice in African communities in particular. If this practice is rife in our communities in the diaspora especially those of us living in the west whom you would expect should know better then you can imagine the scale of the problem in Nigeria.

More needs to be done to deal with the problem. Legislation is certainly a step in the right direction but from what I gather there are no Federal laws that directly prohibits the practice. Even though some states have laws to tackle FGM, a National approach would be more effective.

But laws alone are not enough, FGM like most social issues requires plenty of enlightenment and education to challenge long held beliefs and attitudes which in my view is at the heart of practices of this nature. This will require lots of persuasion, convincing and a paradigm shift in deeply rooted culture and traditions. It shouldn't be treated as a cultural issue anymore but as a public health matter.

There are no health benefits for subjecting young girls to undergo this procedure and as such more should be done to put an end to it. We can certainly do our bit through talking and educating our relatives, friends, supporting NGOs and raising awareness. It's not too late to start now otherwise we'll be storing up huge social and psychological problems for future generations.

17 comments:

  1. I hate the term 'FGM', as it evokes a picture of young girls having their privates butchered, but that is exactly what happens.

    Female circumcision damages the victim and emotionally and psychologically. I have spoken with guys who have dated circumcised women & it has always been a problem.

    Sexual desire is a good thing. It is inbuilt and God given. People need to be educated on this. There are other ways of instilling moral virtues without resorting to a butcher's knife!

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    Replies
    1. I couldn't agree more with you, sexual desire should never be inhibited under any guise whatsoever.

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  2. Naija4Life: I just nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. Please visit my blog for more details. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks Relentless Builder, I'm on my way to your blog.

      Delete
  3. Hmm, I believe this is one of the issues that will disappear as time goes on. cos some things are just so hard to stop.

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    1. Nothing is easy to stop but we can take steps to put a stop to it and in doing so we can make progress. Doing nothing isn't an option.

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  4. I agree with Oluchi. There are other ways to instil moral virtues in young females without resorting to a butcher's knife. People should also remember that sexual responsibility should be taught across genders - male, female, transgender. Unfortunately one of the problems we have in society is that sexual chastity/responsibility is still seen as largely the preserve of females. It is not. And I believe such morals should also be taught exclusively irrespective of religion and/or culture. Otherwise, it is an uphill struggle to eradicate this ridiculous practice. All these issues are linked.

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    1. I agree, education that cuts across cultural, gender and religious divides is certainly the way forward.

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  5. I can't believe people would bring their "culture" overseas with them. I wonder what the parent tell their daughters for the child to allow such painful and "awkward" treatment to be done on her. Did the parent think of possible consequences it could have on the child as a married woman in the future?
    Thanks for "opening" the subject, very brave coming from a man!
    curiouskinks.blogspot.com

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    1. Many thanks Curious Kinks, I always see social issues as issues that affect society and not necessarily out of gender bias. The more we open subjects of this type, the more we learn about them, agree to disagree and hopefully move forward.

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  6. There are really no benefits whatsoever for female circumcision. Where I come female circumcision is part of the program in rites of passage to womanhood. This particular part should be scraped because it does no good to the girl child and sometimes the parents.

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  7. You're right, there really is no health benefits of female circumcision and so it needs to stop.

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  8. I am over thirty year of age and have not come across any benefit of the female circumcision in my live. Like what Naija4Life said, this need to be stop in Nigeria and any other part of the world that it is being practiced.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your personal experience which reinforces the fact the practice has no place in today's world.

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  9. Like you, I first heard about FGM in Nigeria, and like Oluchi, the term conjures up the same mental image she mentioned. FGM, to me, shows just how wrong cultural beliefs can be carried forward for years, and even educated people can be part of the process.

    I would love to say that education would reduce the prevalence, but I don't think it is enough. FGM strikes me as one of those areas where culture and tradition have a stronger hold on people than education does. Possibly framing this as a health issue might make a difference though.

    It also reminds me other social issues such as polygamy in Nigeria. I mean, legally a man should have just one wife, but culturally he can have more than one. Which is correct? Same with FGM: There are laws prohibiting it, but not participating in the practice might mean ostracism.

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    1. I couldn't agree more with you for a holistic approach to curb the prevalence of FGM, that would involve education and treating it as a public health issue.

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  10. Hi Naija4Life,

    You have been tagged. Please go to my blog to see the rules.

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete

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