What is female genital mutilation (FGM)? FGM is partial or full removal of parts of woman’s genitals; sometimes also know as woman’s circumcision. There are several types of FGM and they are the following:
Type One – removal of the prepuce, with or without removal of part or the entire clitoris;
Type Two- removal of the clitoris with partial or total removal of the labia;
Type Three- removal of part or all of the removal genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening;
Type Four – pricking with a sharp object, piercing or cutting of the clitoris and/or labia; stretching of the
clitoris and/or labia; cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissue;
Type Five- scraping of tissue surrounding the vaginal orifice or cutting of the vagina;
Type Six- applying of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to cause bleeding or for the purpose of tightening or narrowing it.
FGM occurs in at least 25 countries including the United States, Australia and Latin America. These are countries where there are documented cases of FGM, there are more countries that FGM is practiced but it is an underground procedure in most places.
FGM is done without anesthetics and done with crude instruments such as razor blades. These procedures are done from infancy into teens and occasioning during womanhood. Then after the procedure these women’s legs are bound as well as feet to help stop the bleeding. Of course this is a very painful procedure so the woman is immobilized for quite some time. Often there are many complications with these procedures such as infections, urinary issues, hemorrhaging, clotting, scar tissue, exposure to HIV/Aids and often death. There are also a lot of women who will have severe depression, post traumatic stress syndrome and many other mental illnesses after genital mutilation has occurred. Women will often die after or during childbirth as well because the scar tissue does not allow for the vagina to stretch during childbirth; therefore ripping the scar tissue apart and causing severe bleeding. UNICEF estimates there are more then 130 million women and girls alive today who have been genitally mutilated. The World Health Organization estimates that about 6000 girls a day are genitally mutilated.
So why does FGM occur? There are several religious groups and cultures that practice FGM. There are several reasons they use for justification of FGM. Some of the reasons are; purification, making sure women do not have premarital sex, initiation into woman hood, hygiene, aesthetic reasons, way of identifying with certain cultures and to increase male sexual pleasure.
There are lots of organizations going out into communities to help educate people about the physical and mental damage that genital mutilation has on women. There are many cultures who are resistant but do admit that these practices are not worth women dying. This is something that can not be ignored and has to be stopped!