Trigger Warning: This post contains a description of female genital mutilation.
Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is a problem that resonates with women everywhere. What some people may attribute to cultural practice, a ceremony, and a rite of passage, others see as an active form of female oppression. I would agree with the latter. It is an unnecessary, violent act preformed on young women without any medical reasoning or benefits. In fact, the procedure can lead to excessive bleeding, infection, cysts, problems urinating, infertility and a loss in sexual pleasure as well as complications during future childbirth. FGM, also known as female circumcision, is specifically the alteration or removal of the clitoris, the female sex organ designed specifically for pleasure. FGM can be seen as a direct link to the need for society to control a woman’s sexuality and contributes to the idea that women are uncontrollable, deviant beings when not being reigned in by their family, society or a man. It should also be mentioned that most girls affected by female circumcision are anywhere between infant age to a young adult but, either way, are unable to have any say concerning what will happen between her legs.
Due to a greater understanding of the health risks and negative connotations involved in FGM, many more young people are against the practice. Nonetheless, FGM still occurs, mostly in private, makeshift clinics where these young women face life-threatening risks for a practice that does nothing in terms of preserving culture, but continues to violate and oppress females worldwide. As long as women anywhere in the world are getting their genitals altered or cut off without medical instruction or benefit, we remain far from liberated.
Soher Ebrahim, a 13-year-old, is an unfortunate casualty of FGM. She died while illegally undergoing the procedure in a private clinic in a village northeast of Cairo in the Daqahliya Governorate in Egypt. The family was informed that Soher died of an anesthesia overdose, but it has not been confirmed. There are numerous complications that may have occurred. A health inspector has attributed her death to “a sharp drop in blood pressure resulting from shock trauma.”
Female genital mutilation was criminalized by Egyptian law in 2008 and those found guilty are subject to fines and in some cases imprisonment. Younger generations are resisting the practice, according to a recent Demographic and Health Survey of Egypt, which showed that "91.1 percent of women aged 15-49 years underwent FGM, but only around 74 percent of girls aged 15-17 years, a percentage that is expected to drop to 45 percent over the next 10 years."
This practice is declining, but it is something that needs to be in the forefront of women’s liberation. FGM is causing us to lose our mothers, sisters, and children. It directly affects women’s health and produces a string of other health concerns. The consequences of FGM are lifelong and, more often than not, they prevent the affected women from living a healthy life. All this suffering to fulfill a particular, antiquated ideology that does not fit and (as I would for say for all forms of unnecessary violence) should not fit into any society. These are the types of practices that allow sexism to determine a woman’s fate. It’s about time that we progress beyond this.
Photogrpahs via The Huffington Post and The New York Times