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Female Genital Mutilation: Free Will or Forced Upon

Updated on March 22, 2019

Young girls undergoing FGM


Although there are so many varieties of the definition of terrorism, it also goes into many realms. Terrorism is a business, and its motives are many, for influence, power, revenge, etc. The tactics are many and the threats never appear to end but one of the most prolific ideas are gender selective attacks that focus not so much on the harm of one religion or group, one class, but a huge quantity of people for a variety of reasons. Gender specific violence and terrorism has been going on for centuries and one of these types of attacks on people is still very common today; the idea of mutation of genetalia towards women in many cultures. This practice is not only unjust, but goes against humane and ethical treatment. The reasons are many and the consequences of these actions and practices are often deadly, disfiguring, crippling, or cause other effects that jeopardize health and create more concerns and issues with their bodies.

The idea of genital mutilation started with the fact that sex and activities involving sex were sinful because the act of sex itself was simply for the idea of procreation and nothing more. The point behind the act of harming women, was to take away any sense of pleasure from the act itself and to discourage sexual activity outside of having and raising children. Many workshops and protective agencies have been working to enforce the ceasing of this activity in other countries and as a practice, in various other cultures-whether it be a social or religious custom. There are global efforts to end female genital cutting and female circumcision, the most common types of mutilation to women’s bodies; which remains widespread in impoverished countries.

Known as FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) for short, is more well known to be a social custom versus religious but in Muslim countries, it is found to be a regular practice and often justified by the Prophet Mohammed; which appears to be in favor of sunna circumcision involving minor cutting of the clitoris, versus the full removal of it or female circumcision. This has been controversial because of what the Qur’an states about it, but people figured God created the clitoris for the sole purpose of pleasure and there are no writings for it to be modified but Mohammad figured that a woman should only receive pleasure from having sex with her husband; therefore, she didn’t need a clitoris and there is no reason or need for masturbation. That’s basically what this whole passage implicates. Although as recently as 2007, this practice was prohibited in Cairo, Egypt, this practice is still acceptable in many tribes, communities, and various other locations and still goes on regardless of the law.

Outside of the political rightness of this issue, or the humane rights is the practice of this occurring in young girls. Not only are they often not given a choice about their bodies but many undergo this operation by an unskilled professional leaving the risk for infection, improper healing, or something to go wrong at high odds. This procedure is often done in the home as well, therefore not having the appropriate equipment should something go wrong in case of some type of unforeseen event or occurrence. Traditionally older women or barbers perform the circumcision but anesthetics are rarely used. The tools used are anything from razor blades to knives to glass. If anesthetics aren’t used, then it is likely the tools aren’t necessarily sterile either.  In order to avoid such poor sanitary conditions that can cause infection, families who can afford it, use medical personnel but even still, what makes them qualified? The way this is performed  varies from the ”mildest” form involving removing the clitoris and parts of the outer genitals or more abusive methods include the inner genitals and sewing the vagina shut. In the most extreme cases, genitals will be burned instead of cut off, and the wall (the perineum) between the anus and the vagina are punctured and other such grotesque forms of mutilation. When complications do arise, the common result is girls bleeding to death; keep in mind that this procedure is typically done between the ages of 5 and 13 years of age.  Other effects are often times the patient or recipient, for lack of a better word, fall into a state of shock and although most survive the procedure itself, there is a long term physical and mental damage/trauma they have to learn to cope with. Outside of fatal mistakes in the operation, other common affects of the procedure are to suffer from a number of infections, cysts, pain during sex, and problems urinating/menstruating throughout life. In the future, it will complicate giving birth because the most extreme procedures ruin the inner genitals so badly, there is an increased chance of miscarriage and death during child delivery. Lastly, one of Africa’s most horrific diseases, the transmission of HIV is a huge risk, especially when the same razor blade or knife is used on several girls. In Sub-Sahara, where roughly 3 million people contract HIV every year, 60% of those infected with HIV are women. Of course how much of it is traced back to FGM procedures is uncertain, but the risk of transmission is quite large following such bloody and unhygienic procedures, as stated previously.

This practice has been occurring for centuries not but it predates Christianity and Islam. In 163 B.C., a Greek papyrus mentioned that girls in Egypt were undergoing circumcision and that it was a widely accepted practice to have, which originated in Egypt and the Nile valley at the time of the Pharaohs. This does go against other writings that this practice has been around for 5,000 years in ancient African tradition but the true origin will probably forever remain unknown. This suggests that the types of body modifications are still quite similar and are seen as a cultural tradition and in no way, obstruct religious views but as of today, and the last almost 70 years, more and more committees are being created to confront the issue so that it is no longer condoned by any race, religion, ethnic group, or tribe. We know this origin due to the evidence of early mummies showing the presence of FGM; they also found that the earliest evidence of male circumcisions predated to the same era and from Ancient Egypt. While many Muslims reject this practice in its entirety, it remains a tradition within certain countries not overcome by the arrival of Christianity and Islam. These countries that lack religious education leads people to wrongly deem this ancient tribal practice as a religious observance.

Outside of a religious aspect, this practice is designated to evoke all sorts of emotions. Its nature is for reasons that are sexual, sociological, hygienic, and religious. The sexuality of women was sought to be repressed or put under arrest so they didn’t get out of control. Men put it in their heads that if a woman enjoyed sex, she was like to go into prostitution. This practice would also be a tradition as an initiation for girls going into womanhood. This would mean a new social integration and a social circle of women that look after one another, a cohesiveness that would be difficult to break outside of. Other reasons were that female genetalia was looked upon as dirty and unsightly. It was disgraceful and looked upon with disgust, so much so even some women started to see it that way. Although frequently mistaken as a requirement of religions, this practice is extremely popular to this day; although things are starting to change, laws are being past, and this practice being prohibited despite its popularity in many cultures. However, it is a discriminatory violation of rights which also includes rights under equal opportunity, health, freedom from violence, injury, inhumane and degrading treatment, and protection from traditional practices considered harmful. These rights are stated in international law. It does as much if not more mental damage then physical. Not only does it put many into shock but it leaves women with post traumatic stress disorder. This type of mutilation to their body makes them view sex and child rearing on a whole new level and instead of being viewed as women, as living beings with a bigger purpose than having kids, it degrades them and makes them feel as lesser beings. This would obviously create a superiority complex and really enforces their role in society or their community. Instead of empowering women or giving them an initiation into womanhood, it’s stripping them of dignity and self-worth.

Regardless of what we do today to stop heinous acts likes these, they will always go on in the underground. The most we can do is inform and endorse outreach programs. The reasons for this act are so diverse but in order to break through this, we need to start seeing it as a crime, not a tradition of a rite of passage, but rather a punishment or an infringement on human rights. Practices like these vary but all fall under the same category of being victims of gender biased violence. Once that can be established and embedded in the minds of these victims, change can occur but until then, it will simply remain another aspect that falls under terrorism. Another way to suppress our own kind in whatever manner chosen and blamed on whatever is found convenient. This type of act does promote power of men, superiority, control, and allows women to feel helpless and unworthy. Initiation is nothing more than an excuse and as more women take part in the initiations, the more influence and promotion the act has on the younger to have this procedure done to them. 


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      people are so ignorant to the kind of torture that goes on even to this day.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Till when this people will practice this stuff, they call it culture that's just plain torture, we are on the 21st century, this is barbarian and no one does anything....


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