Dec 7, 2008

Exploring the different types

Below I have featured a video that describes the different levels of female circumcision. This is a great opportunity to highlight just how female genital mutilation differs from that of male circumcision. Obviously, the most grotesque level of FGM is meant to completely eliminate a females' sexual desire. By sewing up the vaginal canal they are taking steps to control womens sexual activity. Men may undergo circumcision but it rarely results in major complications and does not remove a male's sexual desire. As shown, type 2 is the most common of all the types of FGM, and one can clearly see the impacts of such a procedure. Sexual intercourse becomes uncomfortable for the victim, something unheardof after male circumcision.
While both male and female circumcision is often performed for "hygenic purposes" only the female suffers long term consequences. The numerous complications that accompany FGM seperate, yet again, female genital mutualtion from male circumcision. Although fertility is often given as a reason for this procedure, it can actually create complications during childbirth. While I am not trying to discount those who argue against male circumcision, I do want to confort those who try to compare the two. The impacts on the female body are long-lasting and dangerous, not to mention monstrous.

Nov 23, 2008

Education Alone Won't Work...

It is too easy for outsiders to look at a situation, like female mutilation, and say "why don't you just refuse to take part?" Regrettably, the video below touches briefly on why it is not that simple to escape such a customary tradition. For many girls they may be disillusioned about how harmful the operation is, others may know but do not want to face social exile.
Possibly, these individuals who take part in priming young girls into participating in the ritual are seeking confirmation that the tradition is a good thing. Whenever, a woman falls victim to this act she may be feeling a longing for another to join her. Group cohesion seems a vital necessity for the continuance of any harmful practice. As long as women who have gone before manage to coax younger generations into doing it, it will continue. Older siblings and other women want these young girls to believe they are not a real woman and/or desirable until they undergo circumcision. Since those who have had the operation probably were told what beautiful women they were afterwords, and because they likely found a husband they believe it is because they were circumcised.
As discussed in this video, education alone may not eradicate this practice. The example of the young girl, who was able to get an education but still chose to take part, is a clear indication of this. The simple knowledge she gained about how truly harmful it is could not over-come her fear of being shunned by her community. Fortunately, there is hope that as efforts to increase education increase more will become aware of the dangerous effects, and unfounded myths. This will hopefully, create a group onto it's own, that will take a stand AGAINST female circumcision.

Nov 16, 2008

It Happens Here...

Too often, we think of female mutilation as a problem in other countries. Unfortunately, this is simply untrue. This brutal practice has immigrated along with the people who have made their home in the United States. "It is far easier to convince Americans of the horrors of FGM than it is to persuade them that it is enough of a problem here to warrant action," says the Atlantic Online. This website is a wonderful resource on the issue of female circumcision in America.
For many families who have moved here, there is a struggle over whether to perform the ritual. One parent may wish to continue the tradition while the other parent objects to it. Often what we see then, is a parent who waits until the other is away, and then has the operation performed. In some instances, the parent will operate on the child. As the Atlantis Online talks about, fathers who have been recorded circumcising their own daughters, while the wife is out of the home.
Most of the focus, in America, has been on male circumcision. As cruel as this practice may seem, male circumcision has no serious long term effects. However, this has been given more attention. For most individual persons, a young girl being circumcised would be considered child abuse. For the legal system however, this is a cultural issue and something they struggle to intervene with.
American doctors are also finding themselves in a bind. On one hand, doctors are working hard to gain and retain rapport with their clients by respecting their cultural beliefs. On the other hand, these same doctors want to educate and help eradicate this harmful tradition. For the most part, we are all taught to respect and give room for other cultural practices. Arguably, this is one cultural practice America can not afford to respect.

Nov 9, 2008

Ugandan Communtiy Shows Promise

A community in Uganda, is hoping for a brighter future for women. Kampala is a working toward outlawing the practice of female mutilation, by submitting their district council's ordinance to parliament, so that it can be enforced by the police. According to the Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project, Uganda has a prevalence rate of about 5% for the practice of Female mutilation. This is definitely a substantially smaller percentage as compared with other African countries. It is obvious that Uganda has been successful in the past at eradicating this practice, all the more reason to have faith that this ordinance will pass.
As discussed in this article, women are becoming more educated on the effects of such a practice. Perhaps, Uganda has especially pushed for more education, and consequently, has lower prevalence rates. The belief that women who marry, with out receiving this operation, will be stricken with illness has become fable. Ironically, it is these women, who undergo this procedure, who will be more likely to contract HIV. Women in this community, are now aware that these are really just ridiculous unfounded superstitions. More recently, many in this community, have come to understand the deeper issues that accompany this procedure. Specifically, this article mentions briefly that it is a violation of womens' rights.
In todays world, women are becoming much more aware of their importance and equal position in society. No longer are women being misguided about their right to give voice to their situation. This has been empowering for women, who have perhaps, never have been comfortable with the practice of genital mutilation. When combating deeply woven traditions, irrefutable facts are the best tool for debunking the false claims, and now women are gaining this instrument.

Nov 2, 2008

Alternatives to traditions, that have been around for thousands of years, are not always welcome. For many people, still practicing female circumcision, there is no other way. The video below illustrates a few individuals that are trying to collapse this ritual. In this area of the world (Sierra Leone) an effort to teach such practitioners other skills is underway. Most of these women have not received schooling, let alone formal training of any kind. This servers an opportunity for them to get out of situations that, they themselves may not even agree with. Teaching even such rudimentary skills, will help these practitioners achieve higher standards for not only them but their greater society. When there is no longer anyone willing to perform the ritual then the ritual will struggle to exist.
Another issue briefly mentioned, is the age at which this custom takes place. Although often referred to as initiation, this practice takes place on girls as young as two years of age. At two years old one can hardly call such brutality an initiation into womanhood. While still a very young child, these girls have no concept of what is being done to them or why. They are simply at the mercy of those whom are supposed to protect them. Many have argued that circumcision of females is no different than that of the males. This is purely untrue, as when a male is circumcised he will retain his ability to experience sexual pleasure while a woman may lose part, if not all, of her capacity for pleasure. Certainly, it can be argued, that this is another form of control of the female body. When one takes away the choice of a woman to either partake or denounce a tradition, by performing the ritual at such a young age, it becomes a powerless cycle. By the time they are old enough to understand the implications of such a procedure, it is often too late.

Documentary on Female Circumcision

Oct 26, 2008

The Muslim Faith and the Evolution of Eradication

The goal of this website is to consider the religious rationale for female circumcision. Also, there is information supplied on the evolution of laws on female circumcision around the world. Even though female genital mutilation is not considered to be a religious practice, but a social custom, this website seeks to explore it's religious implications. Specifically, within the muslim religion. As with any religion, the interpretation of sacred text can be, at the very least, subjective. Here we see the exploration of the many different interpretations of the Qur'an, in regards to the implementation of genital mutilation. As we have seen many advancements, in the eradication of such a haneous practice, the timeline that this website lays out only helps to illuminate how far we have to go.
Just as we have seen in the distant past (female harems) we continue to see the rationle that women are not capable of retaining theire virginity. Nawal El-Saadawi, a victim of mutilation, discusses this issue quite eloquently. She explores the idea, that by removing a woman's clitoris you are removing her sexual desire, therefore removing the chance for her to lose her virginity. It is obvious that this is just another way of insisting on a woman's inability for self control. That is, it is only possible to maintain this control by external pratices. Unfortunately, this can only be used as a half witted excuse for so long. Eventually, the victim will marry and then the lifelong implications are revealed, as she will never experience pleasure the way she was intended to.
While there are many laws enforced to help eradicate this practice, it is relevant to discuss the contradictory Rights of the Child article posed by the UN. As the website articulated, it is impossible to abolish harmful maltreatment of children, while promising to respect parents wishes. One cannot hope to keep children from harm while simultaneousy supporting a social idenity that promotes such destruction.

Oct 19, 2008

Multicultural Feminists Seeks To Normalize Female Circumcision

This article seeks to discuss the new movement toward considering female circumcision as purely a cosmetic procedure that really "isn't all that bad." The authur looks to dismantle this naive view.