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Female Genital Mutilation

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Essay title: Female Genital Mutilation

Imagine if you will for a moment, a young girl, somewhere between the age of eight and twelve, in the prime of her adolescence; living so far without the knowledge of neither heartache nor disappointment. Then one day out of the blue, or so it seems to her, this young girl is snatched from her safe existence and forced to endure unspeakable pain and discomfort instigated by none other than the person who has up until then kept her safe and out of harms way, her mom. She is taken to a dank, dark, foul smelling hut and forcibly stripped of all her clothing. Once stripped, this young girl is pinned down on the dirt floor, each leg spread and held wide apart in a harsh tight grip. While in this position, a midwife, with absolutely no knowledge of human anatomy or medicine, proceeds to perform an operation on her genitals; an operation that will guarantee this young girl a life of pain both physically and mentally.

With the utterance of a short prayer, so it begins… step 1. The midwife begins by rubbing a handful of salt all over the girl’s genitals to provide very minimal protection against infection. (Walker & Parmar 106) step 2. Without the use of any anesthetics, the midwife then proceeds to slice away at the young girls’ genitals using a jagged rock as a scalpel. After she is finished cutting away the clitoris and the tissue at the entrance of the vagina, she then takes a thorn bush needle and sews the head of the clitoris to the vaginal opening, covering the opening with the exception of a very minute area that is held open with a sliver of wood. This placement of the wood will ensure that after the scar tissue

forms a tiny opening will remain for the expelling of urine and menstrual flow. To conclude the “operation” the midwife then smears a poultice, made out of butter

and herbs, and smears it over the wound to aid in stopping the heavy loss of blood that had began at the start of the procedure. (Female Genital Mutilation 18) Sent home within the hour and required to lie bound at the ankles for three or more weeks while the wound heals, from then on the young girl in question is destined to live out a life of unending pain and quiet desperation; she is forever more plagued by pain and discomfort associated with female genital mutilation.

Although the above description of Female Genital Mutilation reads like something out of the dark ages, to the detriment of all womankind it is a all too current situation occurring all over the world. And although the UN Human Rights Conference in Vienna has classified “Female Genital Mutilation” (FGM) as a human rights violation and a criminal offense against the statues of national and international medical associations, more than 120 million women across a broad stretch of the African continent (and abroad) have been subjected to the brutality of FGM. (FGM: Global Laws & Policies…) Westerners condemn it as torture, child abuse, and a violation of basic human rights, yet it remains a revered rite of passage in parts of Africa, The Middle East, and Southeast Asia; and spreading quickly to the United States, England, and France by way of immigration.

"She only loses a little piece of the clitoris, just the part that protrudes. The girl doesn't miss it. She can still feel, after all. There is hardly any pain.

Women's pain thresholds are so much higher than men's" (Denniston, 7). Taken from a study of FGM Practitioners conducted from 1979-1994 in Sudan and from

1984-1995 in parts of the United States and Europe, this is the prevailing consensus of many people who find FGM an acceptable and beneficial cultural practice. Circumcision is many times accompanied with a celebration for a girl and her family. Girls are given status in their community, showered with gifts and suddenly marriageable. They are also allowed to adorn themselves with jewelry and womanly garments. The parents of the girl also benefit from this celebration. Now they are able to arrange a marriage and gain a high bridal price for a circumcised daughter. A celebration in Kenya and Tanzania begin when the Masai "undergo the operation publicly, then testing becomes a test of bravery and a proof that they will be able to endure the pain of childbirth" (Abusharaf, 26).

Female genital mutilation is not a new practice. It is believed to have been performed at least 1400 - 2000 years ago beginning during an era know to the Muslims as "al-gahiliyyah" or "the era of ignorance". In fact circumcised females have been discovered among the mummies of ancient Egyptians. A Greek papyrus dated 163 BC refers to operations performed on girls at the age they received their dowries. A Greek geographer reported the custom

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