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A Story of Female Genital Mutilation - Biting the Stick

Updated on September 15, 2014

Biting the stick tackles the very real but difficult subject of 'Female Genital Mutilation' (FGM). A practice that has spread from the cultural societies of the Middle East, Asia and Africa across the western world including the USA and European countries such as the United Kingdom & France.

This second novel 'Biting the Stick' written by Susannah Carlton, although a fictional story, tackles the subject head on when she introduces you to the notion that FGM is taking place right under the noses of the population of the United Kingdom. It is no longer a practice that is restricted to the countries where it originated.

What is more, outside of the cultures that practice it, it is viewed in a very dim light and is in fact illegal. The thought of pinning a young girl to a bed and slicing at her genitals, with no use of anesthetics or proper medical procedures, to the western world is generally considered to be nothing less than barbaric. Even so it is a practice that is deeply embedded into the culture of the societies that practice it. Dealing with the problem then becomes very difficult, perspectives clash and the question of what is right or wrong arises. From a western world perspective it is relatively black and white and the what needs to be done to deal with the issue, when first challenged on the subject, might well appear to be quite clear.

So when a student counselor stumbles on a cutting party on the university campus where she works, the course of action required should be straightforward and obvious. But of course life is never simple or straightforward and when 'Tania', the central character, reports the discovery to her immediate supervisor, things start to get a little cloudy.

Tania is also trying to deal with her own personal problems at the same time, her life is in turmoil for many different reasons, all of which are affecting her perspectives on life.

In addition there are the political influences coming from people in authority, people with their own agendas and priorities, mostly of the selfish or personal advantage variety.

Then throw into the mix the cultural differences that exist between the perpetrators of what is seen by most of the world as an inhumane practice and acknowledging that these young girls are usually being abused by their own families and close relatives. Mothers and grandmothers who actually think they are doing the girls a favour, protecting their honour and ensuring they are viewed as being 'clean' by potential male partners for marital reasons.

Suddenly things are anything but black and white, decisions that should be made are deferred. But the nightmare images of a little girl being mutilated persist and a conscience that just won't let the issue rest, despite the possible repercussions, fights to come through.

The author, as it says on the front of the book, is in effect asking you what would you do..... Speak Out or Stay Silent?

You can find a review of Susannah's first novel here Lonely Mirrors

Biting the Stick - Video Review

Susannah Carlton's First Novel - Lonely Mirrors

The first novel by Susannah Carlton was called Lonely Mirrors and is another book that pulls no punches. A tragic wartime romance she scrutinized the failings of human beings under times of stress and social pressures. So even with World War 2 as a backdrop, a man, a father and a husband succumbs to an extra marital relationship while serving in Egypt. The consequences are far reaching and years later, even though social standards have changed beyond recognition, there is a price to pay and families that are affected when the truth finally comes out!

Susannah Carlton - Independent Author

Find out a little more about Susannah's and her first book.

Susannah has worked as a counselor dealing with domestic violence, so she is no stranger to controversial subjects. Her first book 'Lonely Mirrors' was a complex look at how family relationships are intertwined and the affects that an affair, which takes place during the second world war, has on the two families involved. Not just during the course of the war but for many years later and across the different generations of fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers.

She established herself as a skilled writer who could deal with the complexities of plots and sub-plots as she takes you from location to location and through the perspectives of the different family members. No holds barred.

With 'Biting the Stick' she takes on an even more difficult subject than adultery, this is about children, how they are being damaged and all in the name of tradition and culture.

Susannah Carlton - Author
Susannah Carlton - Author

What would you do if you discovered a cutting party had taken place in your neighborhood?

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    • BrianRS profile imageAUTHOR

      Brian Stephens 

      5 years ago from France

      @sociopath-free: It's actually a pretty good book, makes you really think where the blame lies when society is let down by people who really should know better but are only human themselves with their own problems and issues to deal with.

    • sociopath-free profile image


      5 years ago

      Looks like an interesting read on a subject important to women.

    • BrianRS profile imageAUTHOR

      Brian Stephens 

      5 years ago from France

      @BLouw: Yes it is a serious problem that should be tackled, FGM has managed to stay below the radar to an extent, but books like this bring it into the public arena and force people to acknowledge it is going on. I agree with you as well, if leaders took a stand against it, then it probably would bring it to an abrupt halt. Thanks for commenting.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 

      5 years ago from France

      Really something that must be tackled. The sad thing is that if the male leaders were to say that their sons would not marry a girl who had been mutilated, the practice would go overnight.


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