Every year over two million girls and women must undergo female genital mutilation (FGM.) The particular rationale behind the practice varies from country to country and culture to culture. However, the general reason stays the same. The goal is to deny women the capacity to possess satisfying sexual intercourse and in so doing cause them to book their sexuality for their husbands.
Genital mutilation might also be a spiritual rite of initiation into womanhood, a way to cleanse an ugly body part, demanded by God, or simply a way to boost male pleasure. FGM, also referred to as genital cutting or female circumcision, is practiced in more than 30 countries. Most of these nations have a belt extending across Africa north of the equator.
Evidence suggests that FGM does not necessarily increase a woman’s risk for sexually transmitted diseases. It’s also definitely not protective. In the majority of countries where FGM is practiced, girls who’ve experienced mutilation have similar rates of sexually transmitted diseases to those whose bodies remain undamaged. Female genital mutilation does, nevertheless, place women at heightened risk of HIV and AIDS when unhygienic surgical methods are employed in the process.
WHO Classification System
Female genital mutilation is not a uniform practice. It ranges from a symbolic cutting of the genitals to complete removal of the clitoris and the external genitalia with stitching of the 2 sides of this open wound together with just enough of an opening to allow the escape of menstrual blood and urine.
Removal of the clitoris is called clitoridectomy or clitorectomy.
The World Health Organization has really developed a classification system for FGM that divides it into categories as follows.
- Type I is excision of the prepuce (clitoral hood) and part or all of the clitoris.
- Type II is excision of the prepuce and clitoris together with partial or total excision of the labia minora.
- Type III is infibulation. Infibulation is excision of a part or all the external genitalia and stitching of the two cut sides together to varying degrees.
- Type IV is pricking, piercing, incision, extending, scratching, or other harmful procedures performed on the clitoris, labia, or even both.
The actual experience of FGM doesn’t necessarily fall into one of those categories. The extent of operation varies between local practitioners in addition to between ethnic groups. What’s more, practices could contain aspects of a couple of kinds of mutilation.
It is extremely generous to refer to FGM as a surgical process. These mutilations are most frequently performed by traditional practitioners without anesthesia with whatever tools they could find. This ranges from sharpened sticks and stones to scissors and penknives. Devices are not generally sterilized between women, which increases the risk of infection alongside other damaging effects.
In cases of infibulation, a woman’s legs might be left tied together for 2 to 6 weeks so as to promote recovery of the wound. Once it heals she’s left with an un-breached layer of scarred skin between her legs. There’s only a little opening at the bottom for the discharge of urine and menstrual fluid.
This opening is sometimes so small that a man may be not able to penetrate her successfully. At the point, it could be enlarged using a knife or other instrument at hand.
Where infibulation is a common practice, if the opening gets too large after vaginal delivery or other conditions, that is a problem. A woman might actually be reinfibulated to renew the small size of the first opening.
Physical and Psychological Effects
Genital mutilation is most frequently performed when girls are between 4 and 10 decades of age. But it may occur as early as infancy and as late as during a first pregnancy.
Depending on the degree of the mutilation it can have severe psychological and physical side effects. Unintended physical consequences of FGM include:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Damage to the bladder and colon
- Urinary disease and retention
- Broken bones in the pelvis and thighs from where girls were controlled while fighting
- Systemic infection
Psychological consequences include:
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Fear of sexual intercourse (as intended)
FGM Outside of Africa
As world travel becomes more straightforward and migration patterns alter, FGM has changed. It was a mostly African issue. Now it’s one that affects nations worldwide. Western nations, in general, possess two types of legal experience with FGM. There are refugees that are seeking asylum to escape it and migrants who are seeking legal defense to perform it. Most countries do their best to respect the cultural and religious beliefs of immigrants. But, there’s a developing consensus that FGM is an unacceptable breach of human rights. Nations are increasingly deciding that respecting this kind of cultural rite is wrong.
Ethical and Moral Considerations
America outlawed the practice of FGM in 1997. Many European countries have prosecuted medical professionals for performing FGM. This has caused a fascinating debate. If parents will find a means for their daughters to be mutilated anyway, maybe sending them on a holiday to their home states to have the procedure done, would it be better to enable the practice to occur in the protection of a modern medical centre? Which would at least reduce the danger of unintended complications and infection?
Some doctors have found that a symbolic pricking of the clitoris, or little cut upon the genitals, is an acceptable substitute for broader FGM in certain communities. Where bloodletting is the sole requirement, a process performed by a doctor can be done under anesthesia and mended immediately without lasting psychological or physical damage to the child. However, most Western medical societies forbid their practitioners to engage in any this unnecessary process on the genitals.The reasons for these regulations are clear. But some folks have argued that in this case Western morals and ethics really get in the way of the well-being of the kid. This is particularly true since the symbolic procedures are much less broad than male circumcision.
Voluntary Genital Reconstruction
Even as the controversies surrounding female genital mutilation develop, and also the clinic gets less acceptable, voluntary prostate reconstruction is becoming more and more common. Women wish to reshape their external genitalia to give them a’clean’ appearance, with hidden inner labia and outside labia that could appear at a magazine. In reality, it’s amusing magazines which have caused women to be concerned about their genital appearance. Girls are told the symmetry and lack of variation is what men consider beautiful and want to change their bodies to match. Research suggests that many women undergoing this surgery have been talked into it by their own spouses who want the look of a Playboy model lying alongside them in bed.
Genital plastic surgery may also entail tightening of the vaginal opening, either after childbirth or to accommodate a spouse with small penis size. Information is controversial, however, on whether this actually increases the woman’s sexual enjoyment since the surgical process damages muscle and nerves and can also cause local scarring. This vaginal rejuvenation is not a new procedure. Girls have been needing tucks to tighten their vaginas after childbirth for several decades.
Virginity has always a been a cultural asset for women, and even in the 21st century little has changed. Surgical recreation of the hymen, for example, is increasing in popularity as an optional procedure throughout the world. When the domain of girls in the Middle East who risked serious repercussions if they did not look virginal in their marriage bed (Considering that the hymen can be damaged in non-sexual manners, hymenoplasty could stop women from being wrongly penalized for a lack of virginity.) , it’s now turning into a fashion trend. Ladies choose them as a present to their husbands, or to mislead a future partner. Apparently, the overall look of purity is worth not only important surgery but also the re-association of sexual activity with a not insignificant amount of pain.
What do these voluntary processes must do with the horrors of female genital mutilation? In Sweden, laws designed to prevent the moment had the unintended consequences of criminalizing the first. The superficial similarities of the processes have also led some scientists to question whether the paternalistic protection of poor African women while allowing rich Western women to select a similar procedure is really institutionalized racism.
This seems extreme, but it appears sensible to ask if when women agree to the practice of FGM it should still be disallowed. The argument is usually made they are conditioned by their own civilizations to believe the process is vital for themtheir daughters, but the huge majority of women who opt to experience labioplasty are responding to social pressures. Yes, women undergoing voluntary surgery are trying to enhance their sexual lives rather than damage them, but women undergoing FGM are strengthening their familial ties, they might, quite reasonably, consider far more important.
There are over 130 million girls in the entire world whose lives have been irreversibly damaged by FGM, who undergo unnecessary physical and emotional pain, and it’s a shame that dressing has made it possible to question the condemnation of a practice that is so poisonous to women. Governments around the globe have denounced FGM with good reason, so as to protect the girls and women who are their most vulnerable citizens, and outreach groups continue to try and figure out strategies to help people who believe in the clinic find a less dangerous choice. It remains the duty of people and authorities to determine how to draw the line between respect and protection, even if it may turn out to be at the cost of choice.