Women Say 'YES' To Genital Mutilation

A Woman In Sierra Leone Performs Her Duties

One Woman Shows The Knife With Which She Performs Genital Mutilation

What is more important, freedom of choice to live according to one's traditions? Or protecting young women from a barbaric ritual that involves the removal of the outer parts of the female genitalia? For a long time, when stories of female genital mutilation were heard, it was somewhat naturally assumed that the women were hapless victims who did not want to undergo the terrible operation.

It turns out however, that this is far from being the case for the women of Kailahun, a town in Sierra Leone. 800 women marched against the movement to ban FGM, claiming that it was a valuable part of their culture. The demonstration was organized by the traditional Bondo society, whose spokeswoman said: "Any organisation that has accepted funds from overseas donors to wage war against FGM is fighting a losing battle. Let donors keep their money, we will keep our culture."

Women claimed that the process of FGM, which involves the removal of the clitoris, and normally the outer labia as well, makes them better wives, and keeps their culture in check. According to AFP reports, one woman said: "We have inherited this culture over 100 years ago and it has made us women be responsible housewives to our husbands." Still another woman, a teacher, said: "We love FGM as a culture in the past, today and tomorrow."

These comments are even more shocking when one considers that the operations that remove the outer female genitalia are quite routinely carried out without proper anesthetic, and are generally conducted far from the sterile environment of an operating theater. Infection is a common issue, and the scarring from these operations can be quite terrible. Most who undergo this operation do so being held down and screaming, so then, what mechanism is it that turns a torturous ordeal of being violated in such a primal way, and having one's pleasure organs removed, into an act of cultural value? From their comments it would seem that these women appear to believe that they would not be good wives if they were in possession of their clitoris.

Is this an advanced form of brainwashing perhaps? Or are these women merely rationalizing what is little more than a vicious attack into something of value in order to be able to deal with it in their every day lives? This is a country that has been awash in blood for quite some time due to civil war, greed for infamous 'blood' diamonds, the pursuers of which often mutilate women and children, leaving them missing arms, hands, and legs, and we can't forget to mention the spiraling AIDS epidemic. Perhaps it is only against this backdrop of unbearable atrocities that FGM seems an acceptable practice.

Whatever the reason, this does give us insight into what seems to be a counter intuitive phenomenon.

Not all who suffer wish to be rescued.

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Comments 14 comments

RainbowRecognizer profile image

RainbowRecognizer 8 years ago from Midwest

Wow, yes, you are right. Sitting a bit stunned even though I'm familiar with the subject, but to hear those women say they want it past, present, tomorrow - well, that's how some people are. Thankfully new energy can come into play and possibly it will be changed within the culture, instead of from without...


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 8 years ago Author

It's sad when people come to identify with terrible acts to the point that they become not just accepted, or tolerated, but regarded as an important part of a culture.


kyle 8 years ago

ok so to start with there are more than one type of fgm (oh and FGM doesnt mean femal genital mutilation, it means female genital modification). the mutialtion title is added by those who oppose it and has become common usage. it actually is modification.

and you are looking at this from a western american viewpoint. look objectivly and you will see that they do this because to them fufilment of a family posisiton is top priority. this is the same with the middle easter burka, it allows them to go about their lives without other men outside of their husbands interfearing. also your opening argument is completly one sided

"What is more important, freedom of choice to live according to one's traditions? Or protecting young women from a barbaric ritual that involves the removal of the outer parts of the female genitalia?"

you describe the negative with adjectives like "barbaric ritual." which is completly ethnocenteric. and allow no room for their cultural viewpoint to come through.

this is not an issue like war or killing people who dont want to be where you can say "this is wrong" based on basic world wide moral stances. this a practice that is handed down through a culture and affects only individual women and the medical, social, and personal aspects all have disputable positives and negative of which no one will ever be able to give absolute answers to.

how would you feel if a muslim from the middle east came to america and said you shouldnt drink alcohol because its bad for you and ruins your natural life and asks you "why did you start drinking in the first place if its bad for you?"

you would say "well everyone drinks and the cultural and personal stances outweigh the medical and allow me to be a good friend or member of society" well isnt that a little hypocritical of you?


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 8 years ago Author

First off 'kyle', this entire article actually gives voice to the opinion you have expounded here.

Secondly, I don't think drinking alcohol can be compared to holding down a young girl and forcibly cutting her genitals with a non surgical knife such as the one in the picture above. If that's not the very definition of 'brutal', then I don't know what is.

Interesting that it is a male who comes along and comments that it is fine to forcibly remove the female pleasure organ.


Inspirepub profile image

Inspirepub 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

"this a practice that is handed down through a culture and affects only individual women and the medical, social, and personal aspects all have disputable positives and negative of which no one will ever be able to give absolute answers to"

This argument can be applied to any form of child abuse which has been happening for more than two generations.

I am sure the Mormon polygamists marrying 13-year-olds off to 70-years-olds would make exactly the same argument.

The fact that children have been abused in a particular way for many years and the abuse is associated with a religion is not in itself sufficient justifcation for carrying on with the abuse in the 21st century, when we know a lot more about child development than we used to.

Hope - the more people suffer to gain admittance to a cultural group, the more they will defend the practices of the group and pass them on. This is why we still have fraternities and sororities, with awful, embarassing hazing rituals.

And this is why the mutilated women MUST see it as a positive thing. The alternative is to think that the women they love most deliberately did them harm, which is literally "unthinkable".


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 8 years ago Author

Thanks for your comments Inspirepub, you make some good points. I also understand that many women feel that the West is trying to force their beliefs upon them, and so they are clinging to the practice more.

Cutting off one's own nose to spite one's face is one thing, cutting off one's daughters clitoris to snub the West is quite another.


kyle 8 years ago

well Inspirepub you make a point that an insider will defend one's practices as positive.

but you are saying this as an outsider! how can you someone who has not experienced the culture give judgement upon the practices of something you are not apart of? your arguments are completly from the etic perspective.

now you will probably say that i am doing the same thing. but i am not judging them, im judging you, someone within my own culture and society.

the word "abuse" is a culturally specific term. it varies throughout societies. some people might think the way we pamper our children or pushing them to succeed in certain areas could be said to be "abuse." of coarse to us its just something our parents "asked" of us when we were young so we do it. once again you will say this doesnt compare because you are now looking from an emic perspective and think that the culture you are apart of can do no wrong.

examining another's life requires you to become them but to examine your own you must look at it from someone elses.

oh and for the sexist male comment i would like to ask you what you think of male circumsision in the west? there are studies that would argue it is a negetive when it comes to the male sexual experience. becuase if your not okay with one then you shouldnt be okay with the other.

to finish the male arugment. i also would defend the righ of african tribes to force young boys to perform oral sex on their chief in order to attain full manhood. it has nothing to do with gender. i mearly will defend a culture's right to autonomy something you feel only western culture has.


ro 8 years ago

never visulised in dreams even what is going on on the women of this eartrh.May god save those who in this civilised society advocate such barbaric performances


ro 8 years ago

never visulised in dreams even what is going on on the women of this eartrh.May god save those who in this civilised society advocate such barbaric performances


Jeromeo profile image

Jeromeo 8 years ago from Little Rock

This article only shows how people can become totaly brained washed in to believeing, that something so wrong can be right. A woman who needs to be mutilated in order to be faithful, is not a wife she is a slave. A slave to custom.

This form a culture that now lives in abject poverty because they chose to worship cattle. They allowed the cattle tobecome there gods, and refused sound agricultural, and breeding science for the sake of misguided religious beliefs.

Say what you want God, didn't make stupid man thought that up on his own. these young women need to be rescued form the stupidityof their mothers beliefs, and customs.

And believeing that something is OK, just because someone says it is a religious, custom show a true lack of knowledge about who and what God is all about.

Do you realy think he intended for these young women to indure this type of barbarity. Excuse me but I think you need to read more, about Him in the Bible, and if you still don't understand, Ask Somebody.

And if they/the women of these tribes, accept, and believe, this type of disfigurement is necessary, as chains that bind; then to me it's all about the custom and trying to please others rather than loving and living in love.

Sad part is once some folk get an idea in there head you can't get it out.


the_marquis8 6 years ago

I support tolerance for other culture. I support respect for other cultures. Let's help and send sterile blades.

Don


Rugiatu Turay 6 years ago

Hi, it is rather unfortunate that people still defend the practice of FGM. Those of us who have gone through the practice and took up the challenge to campaign do not make any mistake. What ever you want to compare FGM is not in place. it not not any good tradition. it is a way for men to control women. Abover ll it leaves the woman with permanent scar. scar in her mind and body. it will never be healed. And who tole you that FGM controls or prevents a woman from sleeping with another man. most women in villages are caught having sex with other men in the bush. the whole idea about FGM is wickedness. Today, i suffered running from one hospital to fnd help. Please hold your peace and stop defending a practice that kills people.


Dusky_Lady profile image

Dusky_Lady 5 years ago

FGM IS A CRIME. PURE AND SIMPLE. YOU KILL A PEICE OF THAT WOMAN WHEN YOU CUT OFF HER SEX ORGANS. FGM IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY AND HAS CAUSED MANY, MANY DEATHS, PAIN. PERIOD. WHO EVER IS SAYING ANYTHING BUT IS A EVIL AND SUPPRESSIVE PERSON. PERIOD. FGM IS A CRIME.


hubbidyhub profile image

hubbidyhub 5 years ago

I totaly agree with Dusky_Lady. They say its part of their culture, but it is actualy a way of men controling them and making them more submissive. Its actualy against the human rights and a crime against wemen.

It actualy proves my point: in crouds, mobs and even in societies there can be illnesses. In this case FMG is a cultural illness.

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