Culture vs Human Rights Women Edition

Introduction

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), why does this method thrive in the heart of Africa, Asia and the Middle East?  Some argue it’s necessary while others strive to prevent the process from continuing throughout those areas. This brings up the question of whether FGM is a right of passage or violation of rights? According to the the World Health Organization, (1)”Female Genital Mutilation is a procedure to remove the female genital organs for non medical reasons.” There are four different types of Female Genital Mutilation, ranging from painful to excruciating, and different regions choose one out of these four methods to practice on.  The idea is believed to dated back all the way from Ancient Egypt to the Roman Era and continues to thrive throughout parts of the world in today’s society. Thus ringing these questions of how it continues to thrive, many wonder if its linked to religion or if it is a violation of human rights.

History

Historians have no way of knowing the exact date when FGM began. There are multiple of theories and ideas from some evidence found throughout history. As stated in a research paper,by Jewel Llamas, scholars believed Ancient Egypt was where FGM originated because of some mummies discovered and dated from fifth century B.C.Other theories consist of; the spread of the method from the trade routes, from arrival of Islam to Africa, or slave trade when African Americans were dispersed in different countries.

Social and Cultural Preference

In areas of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the people believe in continuing their methods of mutilation for variety of different reasons. According to the World Health Organization, these reasons vary. The FGM sees it as a social norm, and is considered necessary part of raising a girl. It aims to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity and to increase attractiveness and femininity. These reasons attempt to constrict the women and continue these ideas to be suitable for marriage. If one may not continue this “tradition,” then the family is considered outcast, or ugly, therefore unfitted for marriage.

In areas with Animists, Islam or Christianity influence, the religion is also used to enforce the idea of FGM. However, for the Qur’an and Bible, no where does the word circumcision of female is enforced. In a research paper .

Effects from FGM

Once the female undergoes the painful process of being cut and sewn with either unsanitary tools or without anesthetics, she lives the rest of her life in pain. Mentioned by the Office of Women’s Health, “the long terms range from infections, problems with intercourse, depression, serious menstrual and urinary problems; even have issues with childbirth risking a chance of both the mother and baby’s death.” Moreover, the Additionally this agonizing procedure is either forced on infants or young women without their consent, thus a violation of human rights.

Furthermore, the females may develop psychological trauma from the procedure, especially if they are younger children. In a study, published by the American Journal of Psychiatry, a group of 23 circumcised women were compared to 24 uncircumcised women; both from Senegal, but specifically in Dakar. In order to provide a precise conclusion, a neuropsychiatric consultation and questionnaires were added to find a link between psychiatric illnesses and GMO. The results showed the circumcised women withheld “significantly higher prevalence of PTSD (30.4%) and other psychiatric syndromes (47.9%) than the uncircumcised women. PTSD was accompanied by memory problems.”  Thus with this evidence, does the method of GMO not only physically harm the body but also mentally scars the female’s mind. Once more a violation of human rights for pain should not be inflicted on an individual and damage their everyday life for simply being accepted or married off. Consider a small amount of gratitude for a life sentence of suffering until death frees their souls from pain.

Sudan’s Case

Sudan is located in Africa on the northeastern side, underneath Egypt and above South Sudan. However, “in Sudan, 88 percent of women and girls, aged 15-49, have undergone some form of FGM,” (UNFPA. SHHS 2010). This survey performed by Sudan Household Health Survey (SHHS) mentioned how these females have a higher chance to undergo FGM if they live in a rural area rather than an urban one. As well as the type of FGM performed on these women, “Type III infibulationmost likely to occur in Somalia, northern Sudan and Djibouti.” This type of procedure is considered the most excruciating method, by removing the outer genitalia and narrowing the entrance of the vagina with stitches. The female will deal with the constant reopening and stitching of the vagina every time she has a child or does intercourse. This method usually leaves the female with only one hole for menstruation and urinating.  . Sudan is a muslim based country with the population Islam 95.3% Sunni, Christianity 3.2% and Animism and/or Other Indigenous Beliefs 1.5%.

Despite the negativity, Sudan recently started to aim for a zero tolerance goal toward FGM. Both women and men striving together to eliminate this harmful practice, but there are always obstacles to face.

  • https://www.28toomany.org/static/media/uploads/Law%20Reports/sudan_law_report_v1_(july_2018).pdf
  • http://www.dofeve.org/types-of-fgm.html
  • http://www.who.int/features/2018/female-genital-mutilation-sudan/en/
  • https://www.unfpa.org/news/sudan-male-partners-critical-fight-against-fgm

Recommendation

With the issues of westernizing these countries into banning their “traditions,” the country should,at least, educate the public into what Female Genital Mutilation is and the long term effects. As well as allow the females to make their own decision on whether to receive this method of “right of passage,” or develop a better way to express the idea without harming one’s body. Every individual has the right to think for themselves on issues or traditions they carry. However, exposing one’s child to a life sentence of agony, only to appeal to men or bring pride, should ring up an alarm.  True, one must uphold a sense of cultural sensitivity, but when women are dealing with mental and physiological issues from a mere procedure, then that is a violation upon the females of those countries. For countries who banned FGM, they need to enforce stricter laws, educate their community on the effects, and protect their future women from falling into the grasp of social pressure.

Citations:

  1. org. (2018). FGM National Clinical Group – Historical & Cultural. [online]. http://www.fgmnationalgroup.org/historical_and_cultural.htm [Accessed 12 Nov. 2018].
  2. Llamas, J. (2017). Page.2. [online] Med.virginia.edu. https://med.virginia.edu/family-medicine/wp-content/uploads/sites/285/2017/01/Llamas-Paper.pdf [Accessed 11 Nov. 2018].
  3. “Female Genital Mutilation.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 31 Jan. 2018, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation. 12 November 2018.
  4. “Female Genital Cutting.” Womenshealth.gov, 18 Oct. 2018, www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/female-genital-cutting. 22 November 2018.
  5. Behrendt, Alice, and Steffen Moritz. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Memory Problems After Female Genital Mutilation.” Psychiatry Online, 1 May 2005, https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.162.5.1000 November 2018.
  6. “FGM.” United Nations Population Fund, 2018, www.unfpa.org/data/fgm/SD#. 26 November 2018.
  7. “Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Frequently Asked Questions.” United Nations Population Fund, www.unfpa.org/resources/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-frequently-asked-questions. 26 November 2018.
  8. Al Jazeera. “What Is Female Genital Mutilation or FGM?” GCC News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 5 Oct. 2017, www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/10/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-171004101413764.html#where-comes-from. 26 November 2018.
  9. Sawe, Benjamin Elisha. “Religious Beliefs In Sudan.” World Atlas, Worldatlas, 14 Nov. 2016, www.worldatlas.com/articles/religious-beliefs-in-sudan.html. 26 November 2018.
  10. Sarkis, Marianne. “Selected Resources.” FGC Education and Networking Project, The FGC Education and Networking Project, 2003, www.fgmnetwork.org/intro/fgmintro.html. 12 November 2018.
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