Culture and Religion is responsible for Female Genital mutilation - Seeker's Thoughts

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Culture and Religion is responsible for Female Genital mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation Exists

According to UNICEF, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been mutilated in 20 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where this inhumane practice is active. It is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.


What is Female Genital Mutilation?

Female genital mutilation happens to women and to girls in adolescence, childhood and even sometimes when she is a baby. It is seen by some as a rite of passage into womanhood and a condition of marriage. 

People think that these beliefs are stronger and parents genuinely think that they are doing right for their daughters. 

Female genital mutilation includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Why is Female Genital Mutilation a violation of the human rights?

Female genital mutilation is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme   form of discrimination against women.

It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

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Hence to abolish this inhumane discriminatory practice, Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 calls for an end to FGM by 2030 under Goal 5 on Gender Equality.

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

The international Day of Zero Tolerance for female genital mutilation is observed on February 6 every year. It’s an annual awareness day celebrated as part of the UN’s efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation.

The Reason: Why 6th February?

It was introduced in 2003, when the first lady of Nigeria, Stella Obasanjo and spokesperson ran the campaign against female genital mutilation, made the official declaration on “Zero Tolerance to female genital mutilation” in Africa during a conference organized by the Inter-African Committee on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children.
Later on, the UN sub-commission on Human Rights adopted this day as an international awareness day.

Is Culture and Religion being directly responsible for such inhumane practice?



Female Genital Mutilation occurs in African societies by Christians, Muslims and animists.
In Egypt, where perhaps 97% of girls suffer due to genital mutilation, both Christian and Muslims conclude it to be a cultural practice, not connected to religion.

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In Egypt, on the village level those, who commit the practice, responded a mix of culture and religious reasons for the practice.

Christian and Muslims believe that circumcision of girls prevents them from being sinful and makes them more attractive for future husbands.
In fact, mothers fear that their daughter can’t get married if they have not been cut.

Female genital mutilation is obsessed with the ‘cultural ideals of femininity and modesty’. According to this ignorance the girls are considered to be clean and beautiful after removal of body parts those are considered unclean, unfeminine or male. 
Though no religious scripts prescribe the practice, practitioner often believe the practice has religious support.
Religious leaders take varying positions with regard to female genital mutilation, some promote it, some consider it irrelevant to religion, and other contributes to its elimination. 
In most societies, where female genital mutilation is practised, it is considered a cultural tradition, which is often used as an argument for its continuation.
In some societies, recent adoption of the practice is linked to copying the traditions of neighbouring groups. Sometimes it has started as part of a wider religious or traditional revival movement.

Sometimes myths have formed to justify female genital mutilation. 


The clitoris will grow to the length of a goose’s neck

Hanny lightfoor klein, an expert on female genital mutilation who spent years in Kenya, Egypt, and Sudan, explains that it is believed in the Sudan that the clitoris will grow to the length of a goose’s neck until it dangles between the legs, in rivalry with the male’s penis, if it is not cut.

What exactly is female genital mutilation?

 Female genital mutilation is classified into 4 major types

-         Type 1 – often referred to as clitoridectomy, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris which is a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals, and in very rare cases, only the prepuce the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris.

-         Type 2 – often referred to as excision, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva).

-         Type 3- Often referred to as infibulations, this is the narrowing if the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris.

-         Type 4- this includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scrapping and cauterizing the genital areas.

Global Response

Building on work from previous decades, in 1997, WHO issues a joint statement against
the practice of female genital mutilation together with the United Nations

Children’sfund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) since1997,
great efforts have been made to counter female genital mutilation, through research,
work within communities, and changes in public policy. Progress at international,
national and sub-national levels includes wider international involvement to stop the
female genital mutilation.

International monitoring bodies and resolutions that condemn the practice;
 Revised legal framework and growing political support to end the practice. Female
genital mutilation in 26 countries in Africa and the Middles East, as well as in 33 other
countries with migrant populations from FGM practicing countries.

The prevalence of female genital mutilation has decreased in the most countries and an increasing number of women and men in practising communities support ending its practice. 
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WHO response
In 2008, the world Health Assembly passed resolution WHA61.16 on the elimination of FGM, emphasizing the need for concerted action in all sectors-health, education, finance, justice and women’s affairs.
WHO efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation focus on:

-         Strengthening the health sector response: guidelines, tools, training and policy to ensure that health professional can provide medical care and counselling to girls and women living with FGM;

-         Building evidence: generating knowledge about the causes and consequences of the practice, including why health care professional carry out procedures, how to eliminate it, and how to care for those who have experienced FGM;

-         Increasing advocacy: developing publications and advocacy tools for international, regional and local efforts to end FGM a generation.


Conclusion 

In spite of all these above efforts done by international communities, the practice still haunts the female children. It hurts their rights to live as a healthy adult. The practice should be abolished as soon as possible through various efforts.






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