2003 - Updated Oct 2008
LGVN Humanitarian / Femal Circumcision
Hopes to End
Female Genital Mutilation
In June 2003,
participants from 28 African countries assembled for a high profile
conference on female genital mutilation (FGM). Its purpose was to
discuss efforts to ban the world's most barbaric non-consenting
"operations" on girls.
In a declaration
that stops short of an outright ban, governments agreed in principle
to adopt legislation against FTM wherever it is politically feasible.
This will also require practicing countries to educate their citizens
to change attitudes to women and thereby eradicate such mutilations
Mutilation (FGM) is an invasive and irreversible procedure usually
performed on non-consenting girls before puberty.
More commonly known as female circumcision, part or all of the clitoris
is surgically removed.
Many health problems result from the surgery, and contrary to belief,
FGM is argueably said to be a non-religious practice.
The cultures and countries where this barbaric practice is forced
on 6,000 girls per day (about one every 15 seconds) believe that
this brings health benefits and makes women more physically beautiful.
In fact, these views are not shared by the rest of the world and
the operation can bring on chronic infections, abscesses and benign
tumors amongst other more serious long-term effects such as chronic
urinary tract infections, stones in the bladder and urethra, kidney
damage and more.
Apart from a
long list of health risks, this terrible abuse on female genitalia
leaves the girl with reduced or no sexual feeling for the rest of
Surprisingly, it is normally older women who carry out circumcision
on the younger girls.
Often, no steps are taken to reduce the pain. The girl is immobilized
and held down legs apart. Mutilation can be carried out by any cutting
instrument to hand - usually broken glass, tins, scissors, razor
After the mutilation, thorns or stitches may be used to hold the
two sides of the labia together. In many cases the girl's legs may
be bound together for up to 40 days.
FGM is practiced
extensively in more than 28 African countries as well as Egypt,
Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.
It also occurs, in some immigrant communities, across Asia and the
Pacific, Latin America and even Europe and North America. Religious
links to FGM are unclear, since the practice occurs in both Muslim
and Christian countries.
However, the practice is said to be more widespread in predominantly
In Egypt, FGM was banned in 1997 but it remains extremely widespread,
where most Egyptian mothers say they want their daughters to be
The elder generations
of countries where FGM is predominant assume such mutilation is
normal practice although the young girls clearly find it absurd
and deeply damaging.
But sadly, they somehow become accustomed to this practice as they
get older - and subsequently allow the same mutilation to be performed
on the next generation.
The Female Cutting
Education and Networking Project is an excellent resource covering
news, articles and postings on this harrowing subject.
You can also
find out more on FGM at: http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/femgen/fgm1.htm
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