I recently heard a well educated Nigerian woman discuss her circumcision on TV. She explained that she was circumcised on the seventh day of her birth the same way the male children were. Upon further enquiry, she explained that circumcision was emphatically not the same thing as female genital mutilation. I was not sure about her explanations, and decided to do some research on the subject, here is what I found.
Female Genital Mutilation
The WHO defines FGM as ‘procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.’ There are four categories of FGM depending on the severity of the anatomical damage. These severe changes include scrapping, cutting and narrowing of the vaginal canal by shortening it with the labia majora. The consequences of FGM include severe infection, bleeding, diminished sexual pleasure and obstructed labour. These practices are standard in some parts of Africa and Asia and are a violation of basic human rights.
Based on the above definition given by the WHO, female circumcision is included in the FGM spectrum. The lady above expressed feelings that female circumcision prevented promiscuity in her and her female family members. According to several reports, Islamic law recommends circumcision of boys and girls and includes the removal of the prepuce and clitoris itself. This procedure has not been shown to provide any sexual, physiological or psychological benefit (as you can see in the infographic below). So the question is; isn’t female circumcision the same thing as FGM based on the WHO definition?
No Difference At all
Based on the definition I have found, there is no difference between FGM and female circumcision. If you feel differently, kindly express your thoughts below. Why do you think such practices are rife? Is this an issue of religion or one of human rights? Why are 200 million women affected worldwide by such cruel practices? Other than speaking out, what can we do to stop this violence against women?
You know what to do. Speak freely in the comment box below
Until next time. xx
Image credit: holaafrica.org
Data obtained from WHO FGM fact sheet
Infographic obtained from OrchidProject