Women circumcision commonly known female genital mutilation may be defined as causing injury on the genitals of a female by removing partially or fully the genitals mostly for cultural, religious or traditional reasons. Research indicate that although most females are circumcised without their consent, some out of their own volition prefer to undergo the process for sexual reasons. It is estimated that at least 2 million female circumcision procedures are carried out every year with more than 130 million females undergoing the procedure. This practice is very rampant in Africa especially in the western region. Other countries where the practice is prevalent include Mali, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. Egypt has however put a law in place to prohibit the practice thus making it outlawed.
Female circumcision is also prevalent in the Middle East where it is practiced in secrecy unlike in Africa where it is conducted as an open ceremony. Female circumcision is practiced across the religious divide and is therefore not limited to one or specific religions only. The major belief especially in most African countries is that female circumcision ensures a woman has an honorable life with the husband and children. Advocates of female circumcision advance various arguments justifying the practice.
They argue that a circumcised female is able to preserve her virginity until she gets married and that will therefore prevent immoral behavior thus curbing promiscuity among women. Promiscuity is said to reduce as the clitoris, which is the determining factor to sexual satisfaction is removed. It is also argued that a female who has undergone the procedure enhances her fertility and productivity as and that her matrimonial opportunities become higher. It is also argued that female circumcision ensures sexual satisfaction among the females and that their sexual performance is increased. Scientists and doctors are still very adamant about these social benefits brought forward stating that they are unreliable, as most of them have no scientific back up. In some communities the circumcision was done as a way of maintaining cleanliness and good health among women by removing the parts that produce secretions. N some West African countries, it is believed when a child is born, they poses both sexes and therefore circumcision during puberty is vital to make one’s sex clear. The removal of the foreskin on a male’s penis makes a man fully male while the removal of the clitoris makes a woman fully female. Another major reason why female circumcision is done that some people believe that the clitoris is an unattractive and unhygienic organ that must be removed.
Doctors in the past encouraged the practice as a way of curbing masturbation. The doctors also stated that cases of irritation, scratching and irritability at the genitals were reduced upon circumcision. These justifications were however ungrounded and have since declined. Though there is no scientific justification, it is claimed that that female circumcision is a cure to stress, hysteria, kleptomania and lack of sanity among women. In most African an communities where traditions and cultures still dictate peoples’ ways of living, female circumcision is used as way of test for preservation of virginity and is considered very vital for an honorable marriage. Female circumcision is regarded so highly such that a man who marries an uncircumcised woman is not only seen as an outcast, but is also banished and faces stigmatization from fellow men and the community at large. On the other hand, women who have undergone the procedure are accorded positions of power in the religion, political and cultural areas. However, human right activists and defenders of women’s rights have firmly opposed the practice as it gives a general assumption that women cannot exercise self-control over their bodies thus the necessity to remove clitoris. It also limits the women’s rights to enjoy the sexual activity with whomever they choose. Some communities even believe tat female circumcision enhances a woman’s looks making her look more beautiful and admirable. The argument is that since the foreskin in a male is removed for aeshetis reasons, so should the clitoris, which is considered the counterpart of penis.
The males are also said to enjoy sexual activity if they engage themselves with circumcised women. However most of these arguments are unfounded, as they have no scientific or medical back and support. Female circumcision among the Muslims can be traced back during the life of Muhammad. It was only practiced by a small sect of Muslims, as majority believed that the practice was banned as it caused grievous bodily harm and damage to the bodies, minds and their general health. However the practice is considered religious among the sahih Muslims as it is supported by the hadith (349) where the prophet mention s that upon the meeting of the two circumcised parts then sex results. Muslim scholars however unanimously agree that circumcision is for men only. At one point it was stated by a Dean in Al-Azhar University that female circumcision is a crime and should not be associated with the Islamic religion.
Religious leaders across the region have been at the forefront to oppose the practice as one that has no religious connection although some religious leaders prefer to handle it as more of a medical issue than religious. In the Jewish religion, female circumcision was completely outlawed and is in fact not given a mention in any text if religion. This was so because of the strong belief that a person’s body does not belong them but is God’s and any modification done especially permanent amounts to destruction of God’s property. They however recognize male circumcision. In communities where female circumcision is practiced, it is mainly done between the ages 4 to 8 though it can even take place from infancy to puberty age. In some societies it is carried out during a woman’s first pregnancy. The most unfortunate thing I most cases is that those who carry out the circumcision procedure are non professionals with no medical back ground and therefore put the life of the woman at a very great risk. Banning the practice has greatly reduced the practice and especially to those who carry out the procedure without anesthetics which is very risky. It can result to shock because of the severe pain. This may then have long term effects like infertility. Other severe consequences of the procedure include infections of the urinary and the reproductive tracts. This results from blockage of urine and menstrual flow leading to infertility. Engaging in sex for the first time becomes severely painful as the labia majora has to be cut open to allow the male penetrate the vagina.
The opening, which is done with a knife by, the husband who has no medical knowledge and background may lead to very serious complications. Research conducted back in 2006 by World Health Organization in some African countries including Sudan, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana highly discredit genital cutting of whichever kind terming it unsafe. It is also a fact that most women who have undergone the circumcision stand a risk of loosing their babies during delivery. Egypt in June 2007 outlawed and banned completely this practice when a 12-year-old girl died soon after going through the procedure. Studies indicate that what determines if a woman will achieve sexual satisfaction after going through the procedure is the state of mind at the time of the procedure. If she goes through the circumcision voluntarily she will still have sexual satisfaction but if she is forced and feels traumatized after the procedure orgasm frequency goes down. Although various laws have been put in place to stop this procedure many societies and cultural groups still engage in the practice. Recent studies indicate that women who have undergone the circumcision procedure always find it difficult to achieve optimum sexual satisfaction. Another major complication that a circumcised woman suffers is the loss of blood and in most cases the loss is usually excessive leading to other problems like anemia due to excessive blood loss.
The worst complication if the situation goes out of hand is death, which apparently is usually the fate of most females who undergo the procedure. Female circumcision also creates a major avenue through which HIV can be transmitted. It is also interesting to note that this practice is quickly spreading in the west so that there female circumcision in the United States. This is as a result of migration where Africans settle in the US and continuer to practice their diversified cultures and traditions. The practice of female genital mutilation is considered as a way of violation of human rights as o it not only lowers a woman’s dignity but also reduces a woman’s self worth making her feel inferior and subordinate. It is viewed as a men’s way of looking down on women.
Many countries are quickly coming to the rescue and defense of their women and are quickly enacting laws to protect the rights of the women. A law that was recently passed states that it is a crime to carry out female genital mutilation on a female below the age of eighteen unless the procedure is of utmost necessity to protect the life of the female. The age is of importance because a female of eighteen years and above is considered legally capable of making sound decisions and if she goes through the procedure at that age it will only be through her consent as an adult. Violation of this law attracts a jail tem of not less than five years or a fine or both. However, an exception to this law again is if the practice is being carried out as a traditional or cultural rite. In the past, nobody seemed to take the issue of female genital mutilation seriously. Women suffered in silence, as there was nobody to listen to their grievances.
This was specially so in Africa. However, governments of various countries and the international community at large have come out strongly in condemnation of the practice terming it outdated and barbaric. Despite protests by various humanitarian groups over the practice the female circumcision is still very prevalent in many countries allover the world. Objects used to carry out this procedure include kitchen knives, pieces of glass and old razor blades thereby posing a great danger to the woman’s health. In some case there is sewing up of the wound until only a small opening remains. This in itself is a very painful and traumatizing experience, which is unnecessarily subjected to women. Equally the continued practice of this barbaric procedure has raised the infant mortality rate. Statistics indi9cate that the number of children who have died below the age of five is very and at least 80% die from female circumcision related cases. Doctors have also given conformed reports that circumcised women always have difficulties having birth in the normal way and in most cases have to result to caesarean which in most cases is normally unsuccessful and the woman just succumbs. Some communities, still holding to their culture and traditions have now stopped circumcising their women at home and they are instead taking them to medical professionals to carry out the procedure. However, World Health Organization together with other humanitarian organizations still believe that female circumcision is a torture of a kind to the woman despite of the fact that it is carried out by a professional and therefore are of the opinion that it should be abolished completely. In conclusion therefore, it is important to state clearly that female circumcision or female genital mutilation is a dangerous practice and that every measure ought to be taken to ensure that the practice is brought to an end and that this happens without further delay to ensure the safety of the female gender.
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