· “The part or total removal of the external female genital organs for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons”
What is FGM/C?
· Abbreviated form of Female Genital Mutilation
· Because the term mutilation can cause offense where this is a cultural tradition, some people prefer to call the practice FGC (the “C” stands for Cutting)
How many women are harmed?
· Between 100 to 140 million girls and grown women around the world
· Every day about 6 thousand girls are at risk of having FGMs performed on them
Why do FGMs limit the speech of girls?
· Because they are under the age of 18 years old, daughters are unable to express dissent
· There is serious physical and mental damage done to the body
When are FGMs performed?
· Usually before the girl has gone through puberty, between 4 – 8 years old
· Number of FGMs performed on infants only a few days, weeks, or months old is increasing
Why is the average age dropping?
· The practice is not used as much today as an iniation into adulthood
· Adults want to avoid governmental interference
· Adults want to avoid resistance from the girls because they form their own opinions as they grow up
What can be done?
· This is a direct violation of the first amendment
· Lawmakers must pass the Girls Protection Act of 2011
· This will make it illegal to take a girl outside of the USA to circumcise her
History: Why were FGMs performed originally?
FGMs have been performed for a long time. According to the writings of the historian Herodotus in the Fifth Century B.C.E., circumcisions, which were performed by Egyptians, Ethiopians, Phoenicians, and the Hittites, were referred to by the Ethiopians as “pharonic circumcision,” thus implying that Egyptians were the first to perform FGMs. Circumcisions, which were common among the wealthy and the powerful of Egypt, were considered an economic necessity. When men were away for a long period of time, female circumcisions ensured that children born during the men’s absence would be their own (Watson 422-3).
Cultural influences greatly impact the reason why FGCs are performed on young girls. FGCs are believed to preserve family honor and supposedly protect women from seducers and rapists (Shah, Susan, and Furcroy 4577). In many societies, “[t]he status, security and the economic prosperity of a woman may depend on whether she is married, which may well be [dependent] on whether she has been cut” (Davies and Dustin 7). If a woman is not cut, she will often not find a husband, thus diminishing her chances of being accepted in her culture and having a role in society (Davies and Dustin 7). If the vagina is considered ugly in a particular society, the FGC “makes a girl more feminine” (Davies and Dustin 8) because the parts that could resemble the male penis, such as the clitoris, is removed completely. On the other hand, according to Dr. Adeline Apeana of the History Department from Russell Sage College, FGCs were done in parts of Malaysia and Indonesia, which are mostly matrilineal areas, in order to enhance female sexuality. However, FGCs are not limited to primitive, tribal communities. They have been performed in the United States, as well, for treating conditions such as masturbation, hysteria, depression, epilepsy, lesbianism, and urinary frequency (Shah, Susan, and Furcroy 4577). Blue Cross Insurance covered the costs of three thousand FGCs until 1977 (Watson 433).
Female genital mutilation/cutting is a harmful procedure performed most often for cultural reasons. As people become more informed of the detrimental impacts of FGMs, they occur less often. Sometimes this information is not available to parents because of the traditions of their past and they do not have the knowledge or access to learning about the repercussions.
Short Term Effects
Other injuries to nearby tissues are high immediately after the procedure is performed
Long Term Effects
o Bladder Infections
o Urinary Tract Infections
o Pelvic Pain
o HIV can be spread when same instrument is used on several girls without sterilization in-between each procedure
Education of the Mother
As the mothers’ education increase, the number of FGMs decreases. Congress must pass legislation that will include informational meetings, commercials, pamphlets, or other forms of publication to alert people of the disturbing consequences of FGMs (Simister 247-57).
Medicalizing FGMs: Not the Answer
Making FGCs legal if performed by a medical professional would not help solve the problem but would make matters worse. Allowing minimal cutting to the genitals of any female would “still represent an infringement of bodily integrity” (Davies and Dustin 8). Suggestions of making FGCs legal if the procedure is performed under anesthesia are unacceptable because the emotional and physiological damages will continue to impact the woman throughout her life.
Dustin, Donna, and Liz Davies. “Female Genital Cutting and Children’s Rights: Implications for Social Work Practice.” Child Care in Practice 13.1 (2007): 3-16. Academic Search Premier (EBSCO). Web. 27 Oct. 2011.
Johnson, Dan. “Breaking: Girls Protection Act Reintroduced.” Girlscampaign.com. Girls Campaign. 11 July 2011. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.
Shah, Gaurang, Luay Susan, and Jean Furcroy. “Female Circumcision: History, Medical and Psychological Complications, and Initiatives to Eradicate this Practice.” The Canadian journal of Urology, Vol.16.2 (2009): 4576-9. Academic Search Premier (EBSCO). Web. 3 Nov. 2011.
Simister, John. “Domestic Violence and Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya: Effects of Ethnicity and Education.” Journal of Family Violence 25.3 (2010): 247-57. Academic Search Premier (EBSCO). Web. 28 Oct. 2011.
Watson, Mary Ann. “Female Circumcision From Africa To The Americas: Slavery To The Present.” Social Science Journal 42.3 (2005): 421-437. Academic Search Premier (EBSCO). Web. 12 Nov. 2011.