Female genital mutilation cuts or removes the tissues around the vagina that give women pleasurable sexual feelings. This procedure is used for social and cultural control of women 's sexuality. In its most extreme form, infibulation, where the girl 's vagina is sewn shut, the procedure ensures virginity. In some cultures where female circumcision has been a tradition for hundreds of years, this procedure is considered a rite of passage for young girls. Families fear that if their daughters are left uncircumcised, they may not be marriageable. As in most cultures, there is also the fear that the girl might bring shame to the family by being sexually active and becoming pregnant before marriage (Heitman, 2000).
It is illegal to perform female genital mutilation (FGM) in many countries, including the United States. Due to the illegalization of FGM, the procedure is hard to track statistically in the United States and although it is known that the procedure is being done illegally, the exact number is not known. The laws enforced by America cause this procedure to be done in the home or somewhere other than a medical setting. Often, it is performed by a family member or by a local "circumciser," using knives, razor blades, or other tools that may not be sterilized before use. In an effort to integrate old customs with modern medical care, some immigrant families
References: Heitman, R. (2000, April 10). Female genital mutilation. Retrieved January 10, 2005, http://www.members.tripod.comMcNamara, R. (2000). Female genital health and the risk of HIV transmission. Retrieved January 9, 2005, http://www.undp.org/hiv/publications/issues/englishRAINBO. (2000). Female genital mutilation. Retrieved January 9, 2005, http://www.wgf.orgWorld Health Organization (1996, August). Female genital mutilation: Information pack. Retrieved January 9, 2005, http://www.who.int/docstoreV-Day. (2005). Violence: Female genital mutilation. Retrieved January 9, 2005, http://www.vday.org/contents