Is Female Circumcision Torture?
Female circumcision, better known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), is an ugly monster finally rearing its head from out of the depths of time. The practice of FGM occurs throughout the world, but it is most common in Africa. It can attack a girl at any age, with a little prompting from her society, and the aid of an unsuspecting human wielding a knife. Usually, it is performed from a few days after birth to puberty, but in some regions, the torture can be put off until just before marriage or the seventh month of pregnancy (Samad, 52). Female genital mutilation is a tradition and social custom to keep a young girl pure and a married woman faithful. In Africa it is practiced in the majority of the continent including Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Mozambique and Sudan. It is a cross-cultural and cross-religious ritual, which is performed by Muslims, Coptic Christians, Protestants, Catholics and members of various indigenous groups. Female genital mutilation is usually performed on girls before they reach puberty. It is a procedure where either part or the entire clitoris is surgically removed leaving a reduced or total lack of sexual feeling. This procedure is an attempt to reduce the sex drive of women, making them less likely to be sexually active before marriage or engage in extra-marital affairs. Women that have gone beyond the primary level of education are much less likely to fall victim to the tradition (Men's..., 34). The average victim is illiterate and living in a poverty-stricken community where people face hunger, bad health, over-working, and unclean water (Female..., 1714). This, however, is not always the case. As one can see in the following story of Soraya Mire, social classes create no real barriers. Soraya Mire, a 13-year-old from Mogadishu, Somalia, never knew what would happen to her the day her mother called her out of her room to go buy her some gifts. When asked why, her mother replied, I just want to show you how much I love you. As Soraya got into the car, she wondered where the armed guards were. Being the daughter of a Somalian general, she was always escorted by guards. Despite her mother's promise of gifts, they did not stop at a store, but at a doctor's home. This is your special day, Soraya's mother said. Now you are to become a woman, an important woman. She was ushered into the house and strapped down to an operating table. A local anesthetic was given but it barely blunted the pain as the doctor performed the circumcision. Soraya was sent home an hour later. Soraya broke from her culture's confining bonds at the age of 18 by running away from an abusive arranged marriage. In Switzerland, she was put in a hospital emergency room with severe menstrual cramps because of the operation. Seven months later, the doctor performed reconstructive surgery on her. Now in the U.S., Soraya is a leading spokeswoman against FGM (Bell, 58). In addition to being active in the fight against FGM, she is an American filmmaker. She has come a long way. Being well educated about the facts of FGM also brings to light the ugly truth. It is happening on American soil, insists Soraya. Mutilations are occurring every day among immigrants and refugees in the U.S. (Brownlee, 57). Immigrants have also brought the horrifying practice to Europe, Australia, and Canada (McCarthy, 14). Normally, it is practiced in North and Central Africa (Men's..., 34), the Middle East, and Muslim populations of Indonesia and Malaysia (Female..., 1714). Although it seems to have taken root in Muslim and African Christian religions, there is no Koranic or Biblical backing for FGM (Men's..., 34). Many times female circumcision is treated as a religion in itself. It can be a sacred ritual meant to be kept secret forever. As a woman told poet Mariama Barrie, You are about to enter Society, and you must never reveal the ritual that is about to take place. (Barrie, 54). The ritualistic...
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