Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, the following article may be disturbing to some readers.
Worldwide, it is estimated that over 200,000,000 women and girls have survived the horrors of female genital mutilation (FGM). Many point to this being a religious rite of passage, but according to a recent report, there is no concrete tie to any religious text for this ritual. Others point to the idea that this barbaric surgery is best for female health and this is also a hoax. Just as there is no actual religious reason for this procedure, there is also not medical benefit.
The process of performing FGM on young females takes place is a variety of cultures and religions, although many may attempt to make direct ties to the Muslim faith. It can be found in many parts of the world including the Middle East, Africa, and the United States.
Just as there is little to support this practice being a real matter of religion, many can not even agree on what the process entails. There are currently four different types of FGM being performed. They are can as simple as a pin prick or as invasive as actually removing the whole female genitalia. There are also some areas of the world that physically stitch parts of young girls closed.
To understand how widespread this dangerous and completely unneeded procedure is, the number of women who have survived this practice is larger than the population of France, Germany, and Italy combined. The practice has been traced back to at least 30 countries, but the majority of the survivors live in Indonesia, Egypt, and Ethiopia.
Even within the United States, the practice has occurred. FGM is not illegal in all 50 states. Even where it is, in fact, punishable by law, there have been very few cases brought. The law has been on the books for 20 years but the first time it was used was in 2017. The single case was a federal one.
The argument to support a parent’s right to have a female child go through FGM usually comes back to religious freedoms. As stated earlier, there is no valid link between these types of procedures and a religious text. This includes the Koran. The is no mention of the need for FGM or a religious ritual tied to this act.
Based on a recent research project about the practice, it was found that the following five reasons are used to justify the surgery:
“Psychosexual reasons: FGM is carried out as a way to control women’s sexuality, which is sometimes said to be insatiable if parts of the genitalia, especially the clitoris, are not removed. It is thought to ensure virginity before marriage and fidelity afterward, and to increase male sexual pleasure.
Sociological and cultural reasons: FGM is seen as part of a girl’s initiation into womanhood and as an intrinsic part of a community’s cultural heritage. Sometimes myths about female genitalia (e.g., that an uncut clitoris will grow to the size of a penis, or that FGM will enhance fertility or promote child survival) perpetuate the practice.
Hygiene and aesthetic reasons: In some communities, the external female genitalia are considered dirty and ugly and are removed, ostensibly to promote hygiene and aesthetic appeal.
Religious reasons: Although FGM is not endorsed by either Islam or by Christianity, supposed religious doctrine is often used to justify the practice.
Socio-economic factors: In many communities, FGM is a prerequisite for marriage. Where women are largely dependent on men, economic necessity can be a major driver of the procedure. FGM sometimes is a prerequisite for the right to inherit. It may also be a major income source for practitioners.”
While each culture that supports the FGM procedure may have their ideas as to why it is needed, there is no physical benefit for the girls. Many of the reasons used to continue the practice are linked to myths and outright untruths about the female body. The idea that not cutting and mutilating a woman’s body could mean she will turn into a man is insane.
Without any religious or health uses, it is important to note that the procedures can have a lot of adverse outcomes. These can include the direct trauma the young females experience as they are cut, emergency supports needed for bleeding and infection as well as problems with on-going infections. Depending on which of the four types of FGM that are used, the very procedure that is sold as being a positive for these girls may lead to a higher rate of infant death.
Ignoring or allowing FGM to continue because it is somehow tied to any given religion is entirely based on a myth. It occurs in some parts of the Muslim faith, but it can also be found in small sects of Ethiopian Jews, limited Christian groups, and followers of several African religions. The same can be said for the idea that these procedures make girls ready for marriage, somehow better sexually, or even cleaner. There is no reason for even one more of these dangerous and useless procedures to be forced upon another female.