Self Care, Thought Provoking

Female Genital Mutilations In Africa

End female genital mutilations
cut rose blossom, blood and knife isolated on a white background with text International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM

Female genital mutilations (FGMs) are a popular cultural practice in Africa. It is a practice that has been going on for ages. It was quite prevalent in Nigeria in those days and still is.

Female genital mutilations are procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non medical reasons.

FGMs are usually barbaric in nature because they are performed by people who are not medical professionals but are usually old women who have been taught the procedure. Thus has perfected the “art and act” over time.

There are also instances where medical health care providers perform FGMs due to erroneous beliefs that the procedure is safer when medicalized.

This is one of the predicaments faced by the African child. The African female child is subjected to a lot of human rights violations.  It is a wonder that a good number of African women are succeeding in their lives.

The African female child is deprived of education in Africa countries by virtue of the fact that they are considered “inferior” to the African male child .

They are generally regarded as home keepers that do not need any form of formal education.

Statistics abound out there on the African female child and education and i dedicated a whole blog post on The Female Child, African Culture and the Society.

These female genital mutilations are usually done with razor blades and other objects that are in huge cases unsterilized.

Female genital mutilations has been ongoing for decades if not centuries.

The fact that knowledge about hygiene and lots of diseases was not readily available to a good number of countries in Africa, gives me the chills!

How many African females contracted deadly diseases and infections from this barbaric act?

How many morbidities are being recorded from FGMs that is essentially a violation of the female human right?

 

Memories of FGMs “Circumcision Rites” As A Young Girl

This blog post was initiated and inspired by a request from a follower on my blog after he read about The Female Child, African Culture and the Society. 

He requested that i do a blog post on female genital mutilations as well. I promised and here i am delivering on my promise.

Coincidentally, today, 6th February is set aside by the World Health Organisation as international day of zero tolerance to female genital mutilations.

A fact i stumbled upon while editing this blog post.

This goes to show that this blog post and the whole idea behind it is destined to be and i hope it will serve the purpose for which it is intended. Ending female genital mutilations all over the world.

I remember quite vividly the funfare and fanfare that usually accompanies the female circumcision rites where female genital mutilations “happens”.

The circumcision rites are characterized with young girls tying white wrappers over their chest and rubbing red ink known as “isele” in my Nigerian local dialect on their legs.

It is like a ‘coming of age” rite heralding the female as an adult and a woman.

The circumcision rites takes place for  7 days and a “party” is usually thrown by the young girl’s family to celebrate. Female genital mutilations during circumcision rite is mostly carried out on young girls from infancy and age 15.

I may have witnessed the whole gig when the rites were performed on a female family member but the memories are hazy.

What i do remember are the white wrappers, “isele” and the gaiety associated with female circumcision rites where female genital mutilations are carried out.

 

The Panic About FGM!

I believe i may have seen this as one big party if my earliest memories of it were funfare and fanfare! How sad! A sneaky thought did occur to me while i was developing this! I was worried if i was circumcised!

Yes i was worried! I didn’t know and i was perturbed that my memories about the rites were those of my own circumcision rites! I had to call my mom. Right away!

You can imagine my frustration when i was unable to reach her for several hours on that day! I was moody at work. I got through eventually and asked her without any preambles if i was circumcised.

In Africa, that would be considered as being disrespectful!

Well i was on an important seeking mission so my manners can be forgiven for that day!

I think she was taken aback by my question but she did say “hell no!”. The kind of relief i felt that instant, took me through all that day even till this moment! So none of my female siblings were “mutilated”.

Thank God! The relief i felt also spurred me to research female genital mutilations so as to create an awareness and form a forum to end FGMs even if it is in my own locality!

 

Statistics on Female Genital Mutilations

  • According to World Health Organisation statistics more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut  in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.
  • In 1997, WHO issued a joint statement against the practice of FGM together with UNICEF and UNFPA.
  • Great efforts have been made to counteract FGM through research, work within communities and changes in public policy.
  • The fact sheet by World Health Organisation was updated in January 2018 with all related info that can be found on FGMC_2016_brochure_final_UNICEF_SPREAD
  • In Kenya, 1 in 4 women undergone female genital mutilations. 9 million women and girls have undergone FGM in Kenya
  • More than 3 million girls in Africa alone are estimated to be at risk of female genital mutilations each year.
  • More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where female genital mutilations is concentrated.
  • In Egypt, 91% of women between the age of 15 to 49 have been circumcised despite banning of FGMs by the government!
  • Statistics also show that Nigeria has the highest absolute number of cases of FGMs in the world accounting for about one quarter of the estimated 200 million circumcised women worldwide!

The statistics speak for themselves. Female genital mutilations is a global concern!

 

Reasons For Carrying Out Female Genital Mutilations

Reasons being advocated for carrying out female genital mutilations are baseless and meaningless. There are no rewards, there are no benefits being gained by females whose rights have been unduly violated by female genital mutilations.

  • One of the reasons mostly advocated for carrying out female genital mutilations in Nigeria is that it is a necessary part to prepare the female child for adulthood and marriage and subsequently prevent “promiscuity” when married.
  • Another reason why FGMs are done is the social pressure to “conform”. Mr A female children are all circumcised. Female circumcision is a practice in my locality so i must conform and also circumcise my children.
  • There are also beliefs that carrying out FGMs is “cleansing” the victim. The notion that girls and women become clean and beautiful after removal of genital parts that are considered to be unclean, unfeminine or male.
  • Although it is not a religious law, there is the belief that female genital mutilations have religious support
  • A most notable reason for FGMs procedures would be culture. It is regarded as a cultural practice that must be adhered to.

 

Female Genital Mutilations: What It Does To A Woman

FGMs are an inhuman act that needs to be ended and to prevent/stop the one million issues related to female circumcision.

Apart from female genital mutilations being a gross human right violation, not having no benefits whatsoever for girls and women, there are health and sexual related as well as psychological problems associated with FGMs.

Immediate health related issues include severe pain, excessive bleeding (haemorrhage), genital tissue swelling, fever, infections such as tetanus, urinary problems. shock, death.

Long term effect includes menstrual problems (painful menstruation), urinary tract infections, scar tissue and keloids, sexual problems such as pain during intercourse, increased risk of childbirth complications ana host of other complications.

Psychological problems associated with female genital mutilations would include depression, low self esteem, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety to mention but a few.

Perhaps the most haunting effect of FGM on a woman would be its effect on sexual satisfaction. Indeed as mentioned earlier in the blog post as reasons for carrying out female genital mutilations is preventing promiscuity.

Sexual satisfaction for the woman who has been circumcised would be drastically reduced if not non existent (this is dependent on the type of FGM procedure carried out.

There is the type which is the total or partial removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy), partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia (excision), the narrowing of the vaginal opening known as infibulation.

All aforementioned types of female genital mutilations are likely increase sexual dissatisfaction because of lower levels of sexual functioning, decreased arousal, vaginal dryness during intercourse.

Of course you all know that will profoundly affect the quality of life of the circumcised woman and lead to marital issues.

 

Ending Female Genital Mutilations #EndFGM

Cut rose blossom, blood and knife on a dark stone background with text, STOP female genital mutilation

The World Health Organisation WHO is trying all it can to ensure that this barbaric inhuman violation of the female child is ended all over the world.

Beginning from 1997, great efforts have been made the counteract FGMs through research. Work within communities, including changes in public policies.

WHO issued a joint statement against the practice of FGM together with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Through the years, programmes and statements have been issued jointly and solely by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA. Most recently, in May 2016,

WHO in collaboration with the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme on FGM launched the first evidence based guidelines on the management of health complications from FGMs.

According to WHO, to ensure the effective implementation of the guidelines, it is developing tools for front line health care workers.

This is to improve knowledge, attitudes and skills of health providers in preventing and managing the complications from FGMs.

Despite these international endeavours at ending female genital mutilations, African countries where FGM is being practiced, do not have any federal laws prohibiting FGMs.

In Nigeria for instance, there is no federal law prohibiting FGM.

This has led to slow progress on declining the prevalence of FGM in Nigeria even though there is international “presence” and  women organisations advocating the end to female genital mutilations.

 

Grassroots Awareness About Female Genital Mutilation

I believe a plausible way will be to tackle the issue from the very “grassroots”. Educating those in the villages in all nooks and crannies of the world.

Take the message to areas where female genital mutilations are prevalent in the society.

Education should include all aforementioned associated risks, both short term and long terms.

We all can contribute to ending this social ill by educating our parents, family members, neighbours and friends. That way, every day, we make efforts to end this inhuman act.

Say No to female circumcision!

Say No to female genital mutilations!

#EndFGM

 

Till next time,

 

Jennifer Pompaski

To each his/her own. That is why we all are uniquely different 

 

3+

18 thoughts on “Female Genital Mutilations In Africa

  1. Hmm… Am I the first one to comment on your blog? Fine… I admire the precision in textual clarity, the composition & all.. I consider this your very best article yet and predict you will see a large number of responses. Yes, I challenged you a while ago to write about this topic and you get my applause for taking up the challenge and come forward with this formidable article. Go on like this.

  2. Pompaski!!!. You sure did justice to this article to a great extent, welldone.
    ‘ISELE’ referred to as ‘red ink’ in the article is known as camwood powder gotten from African sandalwood. (old people like us know things than you lol).
    Culturally, ‘to each their own’ plays an important role as such we just let certain cultures be as we can only intervene if the act of another person could lead to his/her death.What is the rave about this FGM and why does it draw so much condemnation from NGO’s around the world? How many people has autopsy reported cause of death as FGM? What are the statistics of depressed counselled persons in Africa that the cause was from FGM taking into cognisance the fact that Africans never go for counselling as depression itself is seen or ascribed to persons of unsound or mentally deranged mind? How many sexually frigid persons has been linked to have had FGM? Why has there been no campaign awareness on unsafe abortions in Africa like this FGM?

    The aforementioned arose because i was not a ‘victim’ of FGM but have undergone ‘circumcision’. Yes you got me right, ‘CIRCUMCISION’ is a form of cosmetic surgery to beautify your libia majora because it gets wrinkled with age. It is usually done after the female child had her first menstruation. The process is done under anesthesia by a qualified midwife with sterilised instruments. Like every surgery, body reactions differs .Though parents like their children to have it done as its a sign that the family is well off financially (the parties thrown Pompaski), it also saves them future pains in adulthood as the prospective husbands would want their wives circumcised before marriage. Prospective husband pays the refund of the circumcision money if done by the parents ( mine did) and he pays if he wants it done too that is culture!!!

    Conclusively, it is a procedure that is not parents imposed but yours truly is glad to have had it done. Women strip naked and take a look at ourselves…the ‘cut’ ones are beautiful and self confident being naked!!! Those purported aftermath quoted in the article are all untrue Jenny. I speak from experience and have had other surgeries in my life. the one that brings depression is CS for baby delivery but then again,…TO EACH HER OWN!!!

    1. This is a very interesting angle to female genital mutilation. There is a reason why this blog post is placed under a category referred to as “THOUGHT PROVOKING” and “WELLNESS” on my blog. So indeed, FGM is provoking thoughts and reactions and i know for sure that i am going to get a lot of reactions to this. Will do my best to give answers to every “thought provoked” response to this article.

      First, thank you for that piece of education right there! I like learning and i am glad there is an English name for ISELE! We learn every day!

      I would like to point out that it is a barbaric act. I am a woman. I was not circumcised and i look very beautiful when naked. Down there too. I am also very confident about my body. Circumcision didn’t do that for me. You will agree with me that while growing up in Nigeria, FGM were mostly carried out by old women who were trained in the act and have perfected the art over there. It was barbaric because from several interviews i had with the older generation (including my paternal grandma who is over 95 years by the way and my mom), they described how someone would sit on the chest and another on the legs of “victim” being circumcised while the person “vast” in FGM goes ahead and does the deal. I would like to point out here that in those days as reliably gathered, several girls are usually circumcised on same day and they end up using SAME razor blade (the common tool). If that does not give anyone major CHILLS, i don’t know! Is that enough to condemn the act? Hell yes!!! It was an attempt to “medicalize” it that so called professionals started carrying out FGM using “sterilized” instruments as pointed out by you. I would also like to point out that there was a time in Nigeria (i am very sure it happened all over the world especially in Africa) where so called sterilised instruments like syringes and others were used repeatedly on different persons at a time! I was a victim and i am damn lucky i am not carrying any form of disease as a result of that! This was also done during FGM by so called medical professionals. It is a fact and i do not even need WHO fact sheet on FGMs to agree.

      If you regard circumcision as a cosmetic surgery, then you do every woman out there who has been circumcised injustice! You are talking tradition and culture. Ultimately, some of these practices are harmful, detrimental and need to be abolished for good! I reckon it will be difficult to gather statistics in those days on the effects of FGM and circumcisions. Need i point out that they are one and same thing? The statistics gathered over the years by WHO speaks! That was why i put the link on my blog. I suggest you click on the link and also endeavour to thoroughly research female genital mutilations. Data and statistics don’t lie. There are videos from Kenya i would have loved to have up here on the blog but it was too disturbing for me but on second thought, if i am going to get these sort of reactions, i think i will put the videos up here. This is one blog post i am going to be dedicating a lot of time to because i will be updating it on a regular basis.

      Your stand on this is well respected. Yes to each, his or her own but on FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, i stand with every woman who has undergone the procedure to condemn the act and also to create awareness about stopping it. I stand for the emancipation of the African female child in all ramifications and i will continue to stand for everything that symbolizes freedom for females all around the world.

  3. I knew that this was a thing. I had in the past read about FGM but never really put much thought to it as it didn’t directly affect myself and it isn’t something that people generally talk about. Thank you for bringing attention to it.

  4. I’ve read about this topic before. It’s just awful that something like this is still happening. Thank you for the great article and I hope its raises more awareness.

  5. You nailed it great woman… To the best of my knowledge, “Female genital mutilations” is an abuse to dignity of womanhood…
    It pains to see how this is still being practiced mostly in our rural areas. We need more awareness…girl child needs to be saved perpetually from this barbaric act…Let’s keep preaching it…

  6. Virtually all of whatever you say happens to be supprisingly accurate and that makes me ponder why I had not looked at this with this light previously. This particular piece really did turn the light on for me personally as far as this subject goes. But there is one issue I am not necessarily too cozy with so while I attempt to reconcile that with the actual main theme of your issue, allow me see what all the rest of the readers have to point out.Very well done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.