Female Genital Mutilation

Topics: Vulva, Clitoris, Female genital cutting Pages: 10 (2042 words) Published: April 16, 2014

Female Genital Mutilation
The History, The Laws, The Opposition, and the Future



Female Genital Mutilation:
The History, The Laws, The Opposition, and the Future
Female genital mutilation includes “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (WHO). The World Health Organization states that 140,000,000 girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of female genital mutilation. The procedure can be carried out on babies as young as two weeks old and on woman in their twenties. The age at which girls are cut can vary widely from country to country, and even within countries. Most often, female genital mutilation happens before girls reach puberty (Women’s Health). In Africa, there is an estimated 101,000,000 girls 10 years old and above that have undergone female genital mutilation. The procedure is generally performed without anesthesia by an older woman who acts as the local midwife and it is often conducted in the girl’s home. However, there are a few villages that have all the girls lay next to each other and the circumciser cuts all of them in a row. The World Health Organization recognizes four types of female genital mutilation. Type 1 and Type 2 are closely related. Type I is the removal of the clitoral hood, which is rarely, if ever, performed alone. Type 2 is called a clitoridectomy. This procedure is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and inner labia, with or without the removal of the outer labia. In a 1998 report from the World Health Organization, they wrote "the clitoris is held between the thumb and index finger, pulled out and amputated with one stroke of a sharp object”. The sharp object can be a knife, pair of scissors, cut glass, sharpened rocks or fingernails. Medical personnel are usually not involved. However, in Egypt, Sudan and Kenya, these procedures are carried out by health professionals (Pruthi). Type 3 is called infibulation. This is the process of removing all external genitalia and the fusing of the wound, leaving a small hole for passage of urine and menstrual blood. A pinhole is created by inserting something (usually a twig or rock salt) into the wound before it closes. The wound may be sewed with surgical thread, and in some cases agave or acacia thorns are used to hold the sides together. Then, the girl’s legs are tied together from hips down to her ankles and left to heal for 2-6 weeks. The infibulated woman’s vulva is opened for sexual intercourse by her husband’s penis or a knife. This creates a tear which they gradually rip more and more until the opening is sufficient enough to admit the penis. In some women, “the scar tissue is so hardened and overgrown with keloidal formations that it can only be cut with very sharp surgical scissors” (Lightfoot-Klein). If the woman gets pregnant, they will cut her open with a knife in time to give birth. After they give birth, many women ask to have the infibulation restored.

Skoll World Forum

Type IV is unclassified and it includes “pricking, piercing or incising of the clitoris and/or labia; stretching of the clitoris and/or labia; cauterization of the clitoris and surrounding tissue; scraping of tissue surrounding the vaginal opening or cutting of the vagina; introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to cause bleeding or for the purposes of tightening or narrowing it; and any other procedure that falls under the definition of female genital mutilation above” (Reyners).

The origins of the practice are relatively unknown. "There's no way of knowing the origins of FGM (female genital mutilation), it appears in many different cultures, from Australian aboriginal tribes to different African societies," states medical historian David Gollaher, president and CEO of the California Healthcare Institute. There is a reference to it on the...

References: "Consequences of FGM." African Women Organisation. N.p., 2009. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. .
Cornell University Law School "18 USC § 116 - Female Genital Mutilation." LII. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. .
Cutner, L.P. “Female genital mutilation” Pg 135. July 1985. Web. 18 Oct. 2013 http:/ww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
"Female Circumcision." Skoll World Forum
"Female Genital Cutting Fact Sheet." Womenshealth.gov. N.p., 15 Dec. 2009. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. .
"Female Genital Mutilation." WHO. World Health Organization, Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. .
Gollaher, David Discovery News." DNews. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2013. .
Knight, Mary. "Curing Cut or Ritual Mutliation." Chicago Journal 92.2 (2001): n. pag. JSTOR. June 2001. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. .
Lightfoot-Klein, Hanny “Erroneous Belief Systems Underlying Female Genital Mutilation in Sub-Saharan Africa." Template. University of Maryland, 22 May 1994. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. .
Pruthi, Priyanka. "Child Protection from Violence, Exploitation and Abuse." UNICEF. N.p., 22 July 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013. .
Reyners, Marcel. "Health Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation." Health Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation 4.4 (2004): 243. Health Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation. Dec. 2004. Web. 18 Oct. 2013. .
Saner, Emine. "Waris Dirie: 'Female Genital Mutilation Is Pure Violence against Girls '" The Guardian. N.p., 14 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. .
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