Gender Discrimination (3): Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM), or the practice involving the cutting away of one or more parts of the female genitalia (often the clitoris), violates girls’ and women’s human rights, denying them their physical integrity, their right to freedom from violence and discrimination and, in the most extreme cases, their right to life.

The sanitary conditions in which the practice takes place are often substandard leading to medical complications, infections and even death. It is often performed without anesthesia by untrained traditional midwives or laypersons with rudimentary health training, using knives, razor blades or even pieces of glass. Another consequence of FGM are the complications during future child delivery – impacting on women’s rights to a family life. Women who have undergone FGM are twice as likely to die during childbirth and are more likely to give birth to a stillborn child than other women.

The practice also stigmatizes girls and women and affects their feelings of self-esteem given that the justification for the practice is the supposed beneficial impact on female promiscuity. Girls and women are made to feel that without the practice, they would be immoral parts of society. Other justifications are tradition, religious requirements and cleanliness.

FGM is often called “female circumcision”, implying that it is similar to male circumcision. However, the degree of cutting is much more extensive, often impairing a woman’s sexual and reproductive functions.

The BBC estimates that FGM affects 100 million women and girls annually. UNICEF estimates that 70 million women and girls aged 15-49 in 27 countries of Africa and the Middle East have undergone the practice (most girls undergo FGM when they are between 7 and 10 years old). The fact that younger women are less likely to have experienced FGM shows that the practice is becoming slowly less common.

The practice occurs mainly in Africa, but can also be found in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, as well as in parts of India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Western countries seem to import the practice as a consequence of migration. However, until the 1950s FGM was performed in the West as a common “treatment” for lesbianism, masturbation, hysteria, epilepsy etc.

8 thoughts on “Gender Discrimination (3): Female Genital Mutilation”

  1. what do you think male circumcision does to his self esteem? a lot of people around the world have been circumcised for many reasons. including, but not limited to, religious values. well over half of circumcisions performed were choices of the recipients parents, as this usually takes place at a very early age. what is happening to these women in africa is horrible. but look at the rest of the world, its really a matter of opinion. there are always possibilities of infections and diseases from any surgical procedure. you can not blame an external surgery for birth defects. cutting off a little skin wont change genetic code! and there really is no way to tell that suture of simple, ordinary, cutaneous and little adipose tissue, could really make ANY change in the reproductive system. they are two completely different systems! lastly and most importantly, if female circumcision is “wrong”, then it should be wrong for both genders.


  2. What they’re doing to the female would not just be the equivalent of male circumcision but also to cut out the nerves of the other sensitive areas of the male genitalia. It’s not right in any way. Do not try and justify it as not being any worse than male circumcision.


  3. These men and women should be prosecuted and put in jail or put to death for torturing these young girl. Every country in the world must ban this insane practice and make it illegal. Every known cutter must be arrested. Parents should be put in jail for subjecting their daughters to this and they should also have their children taken away from them forever because they are horrible parents and horrible people.


  4. I will never forgive those involved in my circumcision. It’s about time women of this world came to terms with what males loose in this barbaric practice.


  5. Hi
    I have a blog on FGM for a University project and a revealing documentary on the practice in East Africa is on the blog, Check it out if you have some spare time or if your interested in the topic.


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