Fasiha Farrukh's Blog
Female genital mutilation is Violence against Women, too
Date: 06 December 2016
Author: Fasiha Farrukh
It is common for us to talk about the violence that is happening in front of our eyes and to not recognise the one that is happening in silence all around us. While we are observing ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, is it possible that we will not speak against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), that is widely practiced around the world?
Female genital mutilation is a form of violence against girls and women that people are hardly aware of. It is understood that when they do not know about it, they will not speak about it. It is understood that when people do not know an issue, they can never acknowledge it. However, FGM is a reality that is happening on a very broad level. It is performed as a cultural norm or religious ritual in the regions of Africa, Europe, Middle East and South Asia.
As per the UNICEF survey, around 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM up until 2016. Somalia has the highest number of FGMs performed 98 per cent with Egypt and Indonesia behind, along with many other African countries, where FGM is carried out as a cultural tradition.
In Pakistan and India, a Bohra community has religious obligations to perform female circumcision or the FGM ritual. Whereas, in countries where Female genital mutilation is banned as per law, the community’s religious heads have stopped to perform it. But in the other regions, they have to continue it as per ritual. is banned, the community’s religious heads have been lenient to stop it, but where it is not, the followers must perform it.
In FGM, the clitoral area of the female vagina is intentionally removed or cut during their infancy or adolescence, and called a procedure of purity. Due to strong beliefs, many parents and girls cannot denounce this tradition as it could result in being isolated from the society or caste. Thus, for many people, there is no other option but to accept it. In reality, there is no medical evidence of the need to perform FGM as it gives no gain to the female organ.
There is a misconception that FGM could help women in enhancing their fertility. However, this is an entirely wrong perception: FGM causes serious issues related to fertility, child delivery, urination and other intercourse-related problems. There are four types of genital mutilation, from simple removal to the extreme removal or sewing processes. Unfortunately, due to poor health care facilities and expertise, this can lead to mental trauma or even loss of life.
FGM also causes emotional/psychological health issues for girls and women as they suppress their sexual needs and feel uneasy about their physical appearances during medical examinations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared FGM to be child abuse and violence against women. Moreover, WHO also forewarn against the medicalisation of FGM by health service providers. UNICEF’s poll survey in 2015 showed that around 67 percent of women and 63 percent of men voted to end FGM.
In Africa, now around 19 countries have banned the practice of FGM. In other industrialised nations, 12 countries have passed laws against FGM, declaring it a criminal act (as they have immigrant populations from countries that practice FGM).
The motive for practicing FGM is mainly to control the sexuality of women on cultural and sociological, psychosexual, socio-economic and hygienic basis, conclusively, making women dependent on men without her will, which is a gross violation of any human's basic rights. Here, practitioners are also concerned about securing women’s virginity through this practice. Whereas, women and girls are given no rights to speak about this matter. To end this detrimental custom, governments, religious leaders, and civil society need to come together. Awareness regarding this method in the light of medical findings is crucial. Reaching out to the population in rural areas, educating them, conducting counselling sessions and providing treatment should be the part of campaigns.
When the United Nation introduced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, FGM was included in SDG 5, which aims to end all damaging practices such as FGM.
We can develop the realisation of this violent act – and protect future generations of girls and women – by discussing it, reporting it, and empowering others to not to endorse it.