Female circumcision a barbaric form of child abuse

by Darlene Barriere
(Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada)

Police in the U.K. are offering £20,000 reward ($40,000 U.S.) for information that would bring to justice anyone involved in female circumcision. Parents who take their daughters abroad for the procedure now face up to 14 years imprisonment.

Also called female genital mutilation (FGM), female circumcision is usually performed on girls between the ages of 4 and 13, but newborns and girls up to 18 are at risk. The girls are generally unaware of what is about to happen to them.

The procedure is usually carried out by elderly women with no medical training, using the most primitive tools such as razors, rusty knives, and pieces of glass. It is not unusual for the girl's mother to hold her down during the procedure. No anaesthetic is used. No follow up medical care is given.

There are three types of FGM:
- Type 1 - the tip of the clitoris is removed
- Type 2 - the clitoris and surrounding labia are removed
- Type 3 - the clitoris and labia are removed and vagina sewn up (using coarse thread), leaving only a tiny hole for urination and menstruation

Type 3 is the only one that can be reversed.

Girls are most at risk during the summer months. The extended school vacation time allows those responsible to cover up what they've done and for the girls to recover from the ordeal.

An estimated 130 million girls and women have already been mutilated. The vast majority live in Africa, though up to 7,000 girls in the United Kingdom are at risk for this form of child abuse.

The practice is illegal in many places, but despite its illegality, the procedure kills hundreds of girls each year .

My Comments: FGM is ingrained in medieval cultural attitudes and archaic religious beliefs.

Some believe that women who have had the procedure done are more virtuous because of reduced sexual desire. It is believed they will remain chaste prior to marriage.

Some view the clitoris as "dirty" and believe that having it removed is a sign of cleanliness. Others believe that in order to safeguard the girl's virginity the clitoris must be removed.

Many families believe it is the only way to ensure their daughters are seen as "pure" and thus desirable by potential husbands.

Still others believe that removing the genitals and thereby reducing or eliminating sexual desire will ensure that in the future, when the girl becomes a wife she will remain faithful to her husband.

Families perceive that having the genitals removed heightens to a level of pure motherhood, a level that is untainted by sexuality. It is believed that when the genitals are "given away" through the practice of FGM, the girl ultimately becomes the matron who is respected by everyone.

FGM controls women's sexuality. As long as attitudes about women's sexuality remain entrenched in shame and perceived filth, the practice will continue. We must change these attitudes if we have any hope of eradicating this barbaric practice.

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Comments for Female circumcision a barbaric form of child abuse

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Aug 23, 2007
Is this for real???
by: JWC

I can't believe this kind of stuff actually goes on! It's so horrible that I'm at a loss for words to describe my outrage. One can only hope that the people inflicting this brutal child abuse will come to their senses and realize that a woman's sexuality is sacred.

Aug 23, 2007
by: Bean

People in this day and age can not actually think that mutilating a girl will keep her pure!! They do it to show that girls are inferior to boys obviously! You don't here of boy mutilation.

Sep 28, 2007
by: Anonymous

That must really hurt. It is so babrbaric. I could never imagined or ever want to imagine that happening to me. I am proud to be a woman and I cannot imagine it any other way.

Feb 20, 2008
I don't get it
by: Disgusted

how can type three be the only one that can be reversed when it's the most extreme? it removes the same two body parts as the first two, PLUS SOME....can someone explain?

Aug 05, 2008
Is it sexual abuse if millions of parents do it?
by: John

Is cutting off sexual tissue from children sexual abuse? Clearly many do not think so, and for some cultures genital mutilation - call it what it is - is a central value. I don't think that necessarily weakens the case that it is abuse. Malevolent intentions aren't required. American parents who circumcise their sons do so for the same loving reasons that some African parents have their daugthers scraped of all external genitalia. Neither see it as mutilation, and both will defend it as normal, hygienic, and necessary for happiness. I believe that only consenting adults can decide for themselves to cut off normal, healthy parts of their own bodies, and that circumcision is a cultural disease, passed on from one mutilated generation to the next, that has no place in a free society.

May 02, 2009
There are no words that can descibe the horror.
by: Anonymous

I am sitting here in disbelief and rage at the thought of what these girls go through! Newborns? Ages 4-10? It is so horribly wrong at any age! Talk about RAPE! This is rape in the cruelt form. What can these sick, ignorant, twisted, demented violators (they certainly cannot be referred to as members of MY human race!)possibly say to try and justify their action? I can't stop the tears from falling down my face. tears for each and every one of the hundred of thousand, even millions of girls and women who have had to endure this torture or will have to endure this torture in the future. I wonder how many innocent females, young and older, will be subjected today to this dispicable walk, a slow and agonizing walk through hell? Even one is too many! Please, Jesus, hear their cries for justice and give them strength to endure their fate. In Your holy name, Amen

May 22, 2009
Male circumcision is abuse as well
by: Mark

What else can you call strapping a newborn boy to a board, so that he can not struggle or escape and cutting away extremely sensitive tissue without the benefit of anesthesia. After seeing a video of the procedure and hearing the little boy's screams and seeing pictures of their anguished faces, I can only imagine the agony I went through. Some may say that because now I do not remember it, that it does not matter. But at the time it must have been a horrific experience and from what I have read has no medical justification. I do not know how a doctor who is suppose to do no harm can perform such a procedure.
Reading some of the literature from the companies that make these restraints makes me mad as well, they brag about how easy and quick it is to strap a struggling infant down and that the genitals are presented in the perfect position to perform the procedure.
Fortunately there is a growing resistance amongst parents, nurses and doctors in performing the procedure. Hopefully in the near future all boys and girls will make it into adulthood with their genitals intact.

Jan 08, 2010
by: Anonymous

I'm 33 years old and had the type 1 FGM done to me at age 12; i am still living moment and cant feel any sexual pleasure, i feel so much pain and hurt and feel betrayed by my parents; its sad that type 1 cannot be reversed though. i wish it could.

Oct 13, 2010
by: AK

I didn't even know that such type of things happen in this world , it's just so horrible that I am wordless, I mean how could someone torture a girl like that , the pain they will feal in the whole life. Such idiotic beliefs are nothing but utter nonsense and those who practice it should not be considered humans , even monsters are better than them.

Dec 02, 2010
by: M

Very informative site, however genital mutilation should be added as males should be protected from traditional/religious genital mutilation practices just as girls are. Genital mutilation is a human rights violation to freedom of integrity and is a form of sexual, emotional, physical abuse, and denies freedom to choose - this applies to boys and girls. Also, so
called 'health measures' are not appropriate as health care professionals/public should be taught to care for intact penis as they are taught to care for intact vagina. Amputations of any kind are not lawful unless last resort, and circumcsion is not performed on girls because of an infection or the sort.

Thank you

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