PS 309 Human Sexuality
Female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation, is a traditional practice, adopted mainly in several countries in Africa but has been remained unknown for many other societies. It applies usually on young girls before their first menstruation and involves the removal of the external female genital, clitoris, either partly or completely, associated with sewing the vagina opening shut. However, in some cases, women get circumcised after their first birth giving or before getting married. The desire is to keep the value of women as well as to control female sexual desire associated with other religious beliefs and myths. As cruel as it sounds, female circumcision could leave major health effects, both physically and mentally, on teenage girls and women. Also, this practice is maintained as a debate for humans, or women, rights and traditional customs.
* What is female circumcision?
Female circumcision refers to a range of procedures performed on the genitals of females of all different ages, though mainly on teenage girls aged from 4 to 12 years old before they go through puberty. It basically consists of the partially or totally removal of female external genitals. According to Alison in her article “Female Circumcision: A Critical Appraisal”, published in 1988, this practice can be classified into 4 types of circumcision (Slack, 1988). Type I is called “Sunna,” which includes the excision of clitoral prepuce, which is the outer layer of skin over the clitoris, also called “clitorishood”; however, the gland and body of the clitoris still remain intact. This procedure causes bleeding but actually is the least humiliating form of female circumcision. To prevent bleeding, saturation and packing around the wound would help. Type II, clidoridectomy, in which the gland of the clitoris or usually the entire clitoris as well as parts or all of the labia minora is removed. Similar to the treatment for type I, packing and saturation helps . Type III, the more harsh form of female circumsion, is called infibulation which involves the removal of nearly all of the external female genitals. With this type of circumcision, a dramatic excision is performed - removing the entire clitoris and labia minora, and much or most of the labia majora is cut or scraped away. In addition, the remaining of the labia majora is sewn together, leaving only a very small opening for the flow of urine and menstrual fluid. As indicated in article “Attitudes Surrounding the Continuation of Female Circumcision in the Sudan” in Journal of Marriage and the Family, the girls’ legs need to be tied together, from fourteen to forty days, while the wound heals (Williams & Sobieszczy, 1997). Worse than that, there is a fourth type which is unclassified by WHO, may consist of “pricking, piercing and stretching of vulvar tissue,” “incision of the clitoris and/or labia,” or “the cauterization of the clitoris and surrounding vulvar tissue” and “scraping of the vaginal orifice or cutting of the vagina” or “introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to tighten or narrow it” (Little, 2003). * Female Circumcision Procedure:
Female mutilation is usually not carried out by professional doctors or nurses but elderly women who especially got training for this procedure (Little, 2003). The girl has to lie naked on the ground, often outside, and be restrained by several women during the mutilation process. In fact, there is no such thing desired as “female circumcision appliance;” females are usually circumcised with simple tools, such as knives, razors, pieces of broken glasses and sharp stones which are not sanitized for such procedure; and anesthesia is rarely used to reduce the pain. After the operation, the bleeding of the wound is controlled by using animal dung and mud. The time of female external excision, usually twenty to thirty minutes, depends on...
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