Chinese Malaysian, American Literature at Osaka University, Japan.
Female Circumcision: whose problem, whose solution?
Female circumcision, also called female genital cutting or female genital mutilation, is currently a worldwide topic. The World Health Organization and governments have recently been working on how to end the practice in the States, Britain and some other countries. Before looking into the problems and solutions of female circumcision, there are some key facts that should concern us.
There are four different kinds of circumcision:
1)Partial or total removal of the clitoris
2)Not only the removal of the clitoris but also the labia
3)Narrowing the vaginal opening
4)Female genitals are actually pricked and pierced, as well as cut and burned.
These practices are common in parts of northern and central Africa, in the southern Sahara, in parts of the Middle East and Asia. According to the WHO (2014), today there are more than 125 million females have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Surprisingly, some communities in the United States focus on female circumcision as well.
There are two hundred thousand females at risk of being circumcised even though it has been illegal since 1997
Women who are circumcised suffer from long-term psychical and mental health problems. For instance, serious bleeding, infection of the wound, trauma, infectious diseases such as HIV, urinary problems, painful menstrual periods, painful intercourse and childbirth, depression and death. In short, female circumcision is painful and offers no health benefits. Nevertheless, pressure from communities and religious traditions urge women to practice circumcision. Women who do circumcision are more likely to be accepted by their community. In some communities, candy and treats and even money is given to the circumcised women, as if it were a celebratory event.
What lies behind this practice is that community and religious leaders can have a patriarchal chain of command in the societies in which they belong.
In order to protect women’s rights and health, the WHO is trying to work with community leaders as well as implementing legal policies that focus on the rights of women. Also, the organization will provide special counseling and therapy to those who had been traumatized due to the practice. In addition, educating women about their own bodies is specifically important, as women should acknowledge that
female genitalia is created to give pleasure and they have the right to feel pleasure as men do.
Through proper education and awareness, women can thus remove the sense of guilt and shame that had been implanted into them from an early age.
The problems of female circumcision are complicated, as it is not only related to the community and religion but also every single woman in the world. Yet there are solutions to this problem. As long as women themselves recognize female circumcision as a violation of the human rights of women, there is a hope in changing women’s fate.
“Female genital mutilation.” WHO Media Centre. Feb 2014. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/
Text © Lay Sion Ng
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