Rabat - One of the most gruesome kinds of sexist and violent practices done to women, female genital mutilation (FGM) is a scourge that has touched more than 200 million women worldwide.
Rabat – One of the most gruesome kinds of sexist and violent practices done to women, female genital mutilation (FGM) is a scourge that has touched more than 200 million women worldwide.
The yearly anniversary of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation falls on February 6, with events worldwide to raise awareness of the harmful practice affecting millions of women and girls.
While the exact number of girls and women worldwide who have undergone female genital mutilation, or cutting, remains unknown, UNICEF’s data reports that at least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries have been subjected to the practice.
FMG, also known as female circumcision, refers to the partial or complete removal of female genitalia and is usually carried out on young girls before puberty, often between the ages of four and eight. It is usually carried out by a woman with no medical training and with no anaesthetic, in very poor sanitary conditions, and with basic tools such as a razor, glass, scissors or knives, while the girl is forcibly restrained.
Female genital mutilation and cutting is a violation of the basic rights of women and girls. It is a dangerous and irreversible procedure that negatively impacts the general health, child bearing capabilities, and educational opportunities of girls and women.
This barbaric practice has grave health consequences. According to a report of the World Health Organization, after the procedure, women can suffer severe pain, shock, heavy bleeding, and potentially fatal infections. Lifelong problems include repeated infections, infertility, complications giving birth, and pain during sex, not to mention long-lasting psychological trauma.
Aside from the physical and psychological trauma, FGM reflects a deep-rooted inequality between the sexes. This practice that handicaps the sexual life of many women for life and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls.
FGM has been carried out over generations primarily in parts of Africa but also in parts of the Middle East and South-East Asia. It is very much part of some communities cultural and social beliefs. Some believe it will reduce a woman’s sexual desire and keep her “clean” for when she marries. Others believe it is part of their religion; however, no religious scripts prescribe the practice.
The reasons why FGM are performed vary depending on time and location, and include a mix of sociocultural factors within families and communities. FGM is often motivated by beliefs about what is considered acceptable sexual behavior. It aims to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity. FGM is in many communities believed to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore believed to help her resist extramarital sexual acts.
Despite changing opinions about the practice in many countries, the number of women and girls who undergo ritual cutting continues to grow because populations are growing. And while severe legal sanctions have been implemented to punish such barbaric practice, it is still widely preformed in many countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, and other neighboring countries.
A toxic mix of ignorance, misogyny, regressive ideologies and a wish to control female sexuality, FGM is ruining the lives of many women worldwide, women who are deprived from their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.