All About Female Genital Mutilation
WARNING: BITTER TRUTHS AHEAD This story contains dark realities which might be disturbing to most readers. It could send shivers down the spine and even give you sleepless nights. We’re sorry about that, but what you’re going to read is unfortunately ‘experienced’ by many.Each year, over 3 million girls fall victim to the horrendous practice of Female genital mutilation, or FGM. Female genital mutilation is a procedure that involves the removal of the clitoris, inner-and-outer lips of the vagina, and the sewing or stapling together of the two sides of the vulva, leaving only a small hole to pass urine and menstrual blood, depending on the type.
In the year 1995, the World Health Organization categorised FGM into four types:
Clitoridectomy- This technique involves partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
Excision- This technique involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva).
Infibulation- This technique involves narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy).
Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, and cauterising the genital area.
Sounds painful, right? Well, let us tell you, this procedure is often performed without any anaesthesia. Time and again, it’s been proven that FGM has no health benefits, only harms. It can lead to severe bleeding, pain, complete loss of sensitivity, complications during childbirth, infertility, severe pain during sex, recurring infections, and urine retention. In fact, in some cases, FGM can be fatal.
But, the wretched reality is that in many parts of the world a woman’s virginity and chastity are much more important than her health and even life. It’s heartbreaking to see that an act which is internationally recognised as a violation of human rights continues to be practised in the name of tradition and religion.
This ‘social practice’ is mainly prevalent in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries the Middle East, and Asia. India is one of the countries where this horrendous practice takes place. And there are no laws against it. Yes, an act which is considered a crime by the United Nations is not officially illegal in India. If this doesn’t make you hang your head in shame, we don’t know what will.
On this ‘International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation’, let’s do best in our capacity to spread awareness about it and raise our voice against it.