Thursday, September 29, 2011

February 6th is International Day of Zero Toleration to Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is possibly one of the worst practices and I am just appalled at the statistics of women who undergo the procedure every year. According to an article on Population Reference Bureau, 100 million to 140 million women worldwide undergo FGM/C and more than 3 million girls are at risk for cutting each year on the African continent alone. I really cannot wrap my mind around these numbers. I spend my day to day worrying about completing my assignments, but women across the world are fleeing from FGM. Below are two pictures of the tools that are used for FGM. I saw some frightening, explicit, traumatic pictures of women undergoing the surgery but I won't post those. While I read Fauziya Kasinga's experience in 'Do they hear you when you cry,' her descriptions of FGM and the tools used remained in my mind for a very long time. Seeing these pictures provides more perspective-can you imagine how dirty and unsterile these instruments are?  

FGM is classified into four types: clitoridectomy (partial of total removal of the clitoris), excision (partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora), infibulation (a covering seal narrows the vaginal opening), and other (including any harmful procedures such as pricking, piercing, incising, etc). Despite its negative and harmful effects, ranging from infection to death, this practice is still taking place. Why? Because it is a tradition. Because it guarantees and maintains a girls' innocence and it prevents promiscuity. There is a lot of international response to this issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been increased advocacy and increased international involvement. In Mauritania, a country located in West Africa, 72% of their women have been cut and there is a consensus amongst doctors to stop this practice. 34 Muslim clerics and scholars in Mauritania declared a religious decree against FGM/C and that it is clearly against Islam and should be discontinued. The government also agrees with this decision. In 2010, Ugandan's parliament passed a bill that outlawed FGM/C and convicted offenders to have 10 years in prison and if a girl dies during the act, then those involved will receive a life sentence. Although this law a huge step, FGM/C is still being performed in rural areas in Uganda. Obviously, there are many challenges. In Sierra Leone, 94% of their women have been cut. Four female reporters were abducted by FGM/C supporters and accused the reporters of insulting their practices and traditions. Again, these statistics are scary. This practice must come to a stop. More countries in Africa and the Middle East have to outlaw such procedure.  

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