Origin: it is not known when the tradition of female genital mutilation/cutting originated. Some people believe the practice started in ancient Egypt while some believe it began during the slave trade when black slave women entered ancient Arab societies. It is believed in some quarters that FGM/C initiated with the arrival of Islam in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Yet still others believe it started independently in sub-Saharan Africa, prior to the arrival of Islam, notably among warrior-tribes. Some believe the practice developed somehow among certain ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa as part of puberty rites.( Manual on female genital mutilation/cutting for health professionals) FGM/C is performed by followers of different religions, including Muslims, Christians and Animists, as well as by non-believers in the countries concerned. Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is an ancient practice that remains a deeply rooted tradition in more than 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and has a widespread in other continents along with African Diaspora. Reports and surveys have shown that about 78% of girls and women (UNICEF MICS 2007) In The Gambia undergo the practice. According to a community-based survey on the long-term reproductive consequences of FGM/C (MRC 2001) conducted in rural Gambia, 98% of Mandinkas, 32% of Fulas, and 4% of Wolof show signs of FGM/C. other surveys conducted by other NGO’s like GAMCOTRAP and BAFROW respectively, estimate the practice among Mandinkas and Sarahule at 100%, 96% among Jolas and 84% among Fulas. Prevalence of the practice is driven by deep-seated traditional beliefs, rewards and the belief that it is a religious injunction in a predominantly Muslim country. (Manual on female genital mutilation/cutting for health professionals)
Definition of FGM/C: female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is defined as all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons. Prior to the adoption of “female genital mutilation”, the practice was referred to as female circumcision. This term is still used in societies where FGM/C is practiced. In those communities it is perceived as an equivalent of male circumcision. Only this terminology FGM/C reflects the full seriousness and the extent of the damage caused by these practices and captures the element of violence and physical assault which mutilations entail. Classification
Type one: this involves the removal of the clitoral hood with or without removal of all or part of the clitoris. Type two: this involves the removal of the clitoris along with part or all of the labia minora. This is the most widely practiced form of FGM/C in The Gambia. Type three: this is the removal of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching or narrowing of the vaginal opening, leaving a very small opening, about the size of a matchstick, to allow for the flow of urine and menstrual blood. This is performed on only a small number of girls. Age at which FGM/C is performed
The age at which girls undergo FGM/C varies widely, depending on the ethnic group or geographical location. Timing is often flexible even within communities. The procedure may be carried out on infant girls, during childhood or adolescence, at the time of marriage or during the first pregnancy. In most societies, parents and close family members have the greater say in the timing of the practice. FGM/C is mostly performed on girls between the ages of zero and 15 years, prior to the onset of menstruation. Types 1 and 2 are the most common forms of FGM/C practiced in The Gambia, according to clinical research conducted by Cuban doctors and the NGO Wassu Gambia Kafo in 2009. Benefits claimed for the practicing of female circumcision
a. The secretions of the labia minora...