Female Genital Mutilation; The Suffering

Source: UNICEF,  WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO) Female Genital Mutilation, or FMG, refers to a number of practises which involve cutting away part or all of a female’s external genitalia. Mutilated/cut infants, girls, women, all face irreversible lifelong health risks, and infections, among other dire consequences. FGM can result in death through severe bleeding, leading to haemorrhagic shock, neurogenic shock due to pain and trauma, and severe and overwhelming septicaemia. Many girls enter a state of severe shock induced by pain, psychological trauma, and exhaustion from screaming. If that isn’t bad enough, other after effects of FGM include: failure to heal, abscess formation, cysts, urinary tract infection, painful sexual intercourse, increased  susceptibility to HIV/AIDS, pelvic inflammatory diseases, hepatitis, reproductive tract infection, and obstructed labour during childbirth. _______________

A village man speaks with Mayamuna Traor, president of the local women’s association, and other village women. Mayamuna has played a pivotal role in banning FGM in her village. Senegal.

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Reasons for FMG: To control female sexuality, initiation into womanhood, female genitalia are “dirty’ and “unsightly”, enhances child survival and fertility,  is a religious requirement. Who performs FMG? Generally, traditional birth attendants or midwives perform this ‘highly valued’ service with generous financial rewards.  High status and wealth within the community are directly linked to midwives performing FGM. Increasingly, however, more FGM procedures are being carried out by health care workers. There are an estimated 70 million girls and women living today, who have been subjected to FMG in Africa and Yemen. Females with FMG are also found in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the USA, primarily among immigrants from Africa and southwestern Asia. A worldwide total of 100 to 140 million females, according to WHO. It is even more distressing to note that FMG is mainly performed on children and adolescents between four and fourteen years of age. But  in Ethiopia, for instance, more than 50% of FMG procedures are performed on infants under one year old! FGM procedures are classified into four major types: 1. Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris or in very rare cases, only the prepuce or the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris, is removed. 2. Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and  labia minora, with or without the removal of the labia majora. 3. Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without the removal of the clitoris. 4. Other: non-medical pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterising the genital area. __________________________________________ Source: ABC

FGM in Australia

Health authorities in Australia are concerned about the growth in the number of females who have undergone some form of FGM, even though it is illegal.  Dr Ted Weaver of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says there is evidence that underground FGM is being carried out in certain parts of Australia. Children have been admitted with complications, to Australian hospitals, after having FGM.  Melbourne’s Royal Womens’ Hospital treats between 600 and 700 women each year who have had some form of FGM procedure. More and more migrant women are also seeking medical help after undergoing FGM in their home countries.

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Religious & cultural motives for FGM: In some muslim countries, FGM is often justified by controversial sayings attributed to the Prophet Mohammad which seems to favour sunna circumcision involving minor cutting of the clitoris. The authenticity of the sayings are unconfirmed, and some scholars have refuted them. FGM has probably been performed for at least 1,400  to 2000 years according to some sources.

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Whether the reasons for FGM are  religious or cultural, there can be no doubt that it was a patriarchal construct for the purpose of subjugating females! I am amazed females who undergo this barbaric practice, even survive!  And the babies? I cannot understand how FGM can be carried out in Australia where it is illegal!  Migrants are supposed to abide by the laws of the country they migrate to, along with all the other citizens and residents of that country!  Why do we allow only some people to break Australian Law?

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