Female Genital Mutilation

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Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the afflicted and the destitute. — Psalm 82:3

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

Female genital mutilation (FGM), which some erroneously refer to as “female circumcision,” is the intentional cutting of female genitalia. It is internationally recognized as a human rights violation, a crime against humanity, and is illegal in most industrialized countries.

However, it is widely practiced in at least 30 countries and is known to affect over 200 million women and girls living today worldwide.

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UNDERSTANDING FGM

How Many Women & Girls Are Subjected To FGM?

 HOW MANY FGM VICTIMS ARE THERE?

At least 200 million women and girls living today have been subjected to FGM/cutting in a minimum of 30 countries, according to new estimates published by the United Nations. FGM is institutionalized primarily throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, but is also increasing worldwide due to migrants from these regions implementing it in the West, where it is illegal.

The WHO estimates that up to 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to one of the first three types of female genital mutilation.

In most of these countries, the majority of girls were cut before age 5.

In Africa, roughly 91.5 million girls and women over age nine have been subjected to FGM– and, roughly 3 million girls are at risk of being mutilated each year.

 

Types of FGM

TYPES OF FGM

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified four types of FGM:

  • Type I: Clitoridectomy– a partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce.
  • Type II: Excision– a partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora.
  • Type III: Infibulation– a narrowing of the vaginal orifice with a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or the labia major, which can involve removing the clitoris.
  • Type IV: All other non-medical procedures that harm female genitalia, such as cauterizing, incising, piercing, pricking, and scraping.

FGM Also Involves:

  • Incision– making cuts in the clitoris or cutting free the clitoral prepuce; and/or making incisions in the vaginal wall or the perineum and the symphysis.
  • Deinfibulation– cutting open an infibulated woman to allow intercourse or facilitate childbirth.
  • Reinfibulation–sewing back together the external labia after deinfibulation.

Types I and II are the most common. Type III is practiced on 10 percent of all affected women mostly occurring in Djibouti, Somalia, and northern Sudan. Type III is also practiced within Islamic culture, and especially among child brides and child slaves.

FGM Procedure Illustration

History of FGM

HISTORY OF FGM

The history of FGM is not well known but the practice dates back at least 2000 years. It is not known when or where the tradition of Female Genital Mutilation originated from. It was believed that it was practised in ancient Egypt as a sign of distinction amongst the aristocracy. Some believe it started during the slave trade when black slave women entered ancient Arab societies. Some believe FGM began with the arrival of Islam in some parts ofancientegyptdailylifedomesticpic_large sub-Saharan Africa. Some believe the practice developed independently among certain ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa as part of puberty rites. Overall, in the history, it was believed that FGM would ensure women’s virginity and reduction in the female desire.

Many commentators believe that the practice evolved from earliest times in primitive communities that wished to establish control over the sexual behavior of women. The Romans performed a technique involving slipping of rings through the labia majora of female slaves to prevent them from becoming pregnant and the Scoptsi sect in Russia performed FGM to ensure virginity.

The practice is supported by traditional beliefs, values and attitudes. In some communities it is valued as a rite of passage to womanhood. (for example in Kenya and Sierra Leone) Others value it as a means of preserving a girl’s virginity until marriage, (for example in Sudan, Egypt, and Somalia) In most of these countries FGM is a pre-requisite to marriage and marriage is vital  to a woman’s social and economic survival. It is believed by some African women that if their daughters are not circumcised would not get husband. This (FGM) harmful tradition has been guided by taboos from generation by generation. Some people believe the practice dated back to the Pharaonic Egypt as many in Sudan refer to FGM is pharaonic circumcision

Why is FGM Practiced?

WHY IS FGM PRACTICED?

FGM is a traditional and cultural norm in some regions and a religious/ideological duty in others. FGM is one method used to control women and girls to ensure they are socially acceptable as objects to be sold via arranged marriages. A bride’s prices goes up if she is a virgin, and even more if she is cut to prove her virginity is intact. Ensuring that potential brides are cut prior to menstruation is an important ritual to uphold the status and “honor” of her family.

Another aspect of control is the belief that removing the “pleasurable” parts of the female body will prevent women and girls from losing their virginity and become more eligible to marry and from preventing married women and girls from having extramarital affairs.

While women and girls suffer from this practice, they often suffer at the hands of older women, including their mothers, aunts or grandmothers. Women in these countries perform FGM on girls against their will. Even in western countries– and on Facebook– young women promote FGM as “female circumcision,” which is a natural, healthy, and important practice that prevents cancer and the transmission of STD’s. However, actual medical data proves the opposite. There are no known medical benefits to FGM and in fact, FGM actually causes numerous health complications, including death.

Is FGM Medically Beneficiary Or Necessary?

IS FGM MEDICALLY BENEFICIAL OR NECESSARY?

There are no medical or health benefits to FGM.

FGM is directly linked to serious medical, reproductive, and sexual health complications, and the highest maternal and fetal death rates in the world. FGM of all types creates childbirth complications and high-risk pregnancies that cause the highest maternal, fetal, and infant mortality rates in the world.

Childbirth complications include difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, and obstetric fistula. U.N. data reveals that FGM/cut women’s infants face a significantly higher risk of dying during or immediately after birth. The rate of death is astronomically higher than that of non-FGM/cut women. FGM/cut women’s babies are:

  • 15 percent more likely to die from Type I FGM;
  • 32 percent more likely to die from Type II FGM; and
  • 55 percent more likely to die from Type III FGM.

A recent U.N. study cites that in addition to these statistics, another 1 to 2 babies per 100 deliveries die as a result of FGM.

Immediate & life Threatening Complications Include
  • Fever from shock, severe pain, and infection,
  • Septicemia,
  • Severe bleeding (hemorrhage),
  • Tetanus,
  • Ulceration of the genital region and injury to adjacent tissue,
  • Urine retention and urinary infection,
  • Wound infection and inability to heal.
Long-term complications include:
  • Anaemia,
  • Childbirth complications,
  • Cysts and abscesses,
  • Damaged urethra resulting in urinary incontinence,
  • Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse),
  • Hypersensitivity of the genital area,
  • Increased risk of HIV transmission,
  • Keloid scar formation,
  • Psychological effects,
  • Sexual dysfunction.
The most serious complications arise from Infibulation. Infibulation can cause:

Complete vaginal obstruction– preventing the menstrual flow and causing blood to accumulate in the vagina and uterus.

Menstrual and urination disorders, recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections, fistulae and infertility.

FGM increases the risk of contracting HIV.

When one tool is used to cut multiple girls, which often occurs in communities where a group is cut on the same day as part of a cultural rite, the risk of HIV transmission is high. After an FGM/cut girl or woman is married and has sexual intercourse, her organs or vaginal tissue can be lacerated. Lacerated tissue and significant blood loss during childbirth both greatly increase her susceptibility of contracting HIV.

The Health Dangers Of FGM

THE HEALTH DANGERS OF FGM

According to the Edna Adan University Hospital, Medical attention can be necessary after an FGM procedure, at the time of menstruation, at the time of marriage, during pregnancy, labor and delivery and post natal complications, especially within the first 10 days, here are some of the immediate possible risks:

•Infection: infection to the wound and septicaemia are often encountered and tetanus is not uncommon.

•Retention of Urine: (5 possible causes)

  1. Post-Traumatic Oedema of the vulva resulting from the damages inflicted on the clitoris and labia impedes or obstructs the passage of urine through the swollen urethra
  2. Obstruction of the urethra by a blood clot or by the thorns that were inserted to hold the sides of the labia majora together.
  3. Accidental suturing of the Urethra itself
  4. Over-tight application of the binds that were used to keep the thighs and legs together
  5. Psychosomatic urine retention out of fear and pain

• Failure to Infibulate: when the two sides of the labia major fail to fuse, it necessitates that the child undergoes a repeat operation at a later date.

Complications at the onset of menstruation

unknown• Dysmeorrhoea: when the post-infibulation vaginal whole is too small there is a constant stagnation of menstrual blood and other vaginal secretions, causing bacteria to spread into the vaginal and uterine cavities. This is likely to increase the risk of chronic pelvic inflammation that might cause the severe abdominal cramps experienced by infibulated females during menstruation

• Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection: because of the flap of skin obstructing the urethra after infibulation, urine does not jet out during micturition. Instead, it hits the flap of skin obstructing the vulva and is then sprayed back into the vagina and then trickles out in drops. This obstruction also prevents proper vaginal hygiene and drainage and causes urinary stasis which is likely to cause recurrent urinary tract infection

• Possible Second FGM: because the small artificial opening that had previously permitted the passage of urine becomes insufficient to permit the drainage of the more viscous consistency of menstrual bleeding, doctors often have to convince the parents of these girls that the small vaginal opening be enlarged to permit the flow of menstrual blood.

Complications at the time of marriage

• De-infibulation: The infibulation opening that had until then permitted the passage of urine and vaginal secretions is no longer able to permit intercourse. This will require that the husband make a forcible penetration to burst the skin obstructing the entrance to the vagina, or the opening will have to be cut open with scissors or a knife to allow the consummation of marriage

• Dyspareunia: the scar tissue that surrounds the vaginal orifice may be rigid and inelastic and can cause pain during sexual intercourse

• Infertility: because of the constant stagnation of menstrual blood and other vaginal secretions that have accumulated in the vaginal cavity, the resulting pelvic inflammation may obstruct the fallopian tubes and block the normal travel of the ovum along the tubes, preventing it from becoming fertilized by the male spermatozoa

• Vulval keloids and dermal cysts: apart from their unaesthetic appearance, these may interfere with consummation of marriage or with childbirth during delivery

During Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery

During Pregnancy

  • It is not uncommon for an infibulated and pregnant woman to attend the antenatal clinic for follow upimages of the pregnancy or for a pregnancy related complaint and find that the opening of the infibulation will not admit the introduction of even one finger into the vagina for diagnostic and exploratory purposes. Such women will require a de-infibulation during pregnancy if complications are to be avoided at the time of delivery

During Labor and Delivery

• Caesarian: Some women arrive at the maternity hospital in labour with a very small infibulation opening. If the vagina is seen to be too rigid and scarred, and thought to be a possible cause of severe vaginal lacerations or third degree tears, it is likely that and elective caesarian section will be decided upon. If keloids have formed and are too large, a Caesarian section might be the best option to deliver this woman.

• Prolonged second stage of labour: because the vagina, perineum and the labia have all undergone mutilation that has left extensive scar formation, the vaginal canal becomes inelastic and the pelvic floor muscles rigid. Thus preventing the normal and gradual dilation of the vagina as well as the descent of the presenting part of the child during the second stage of labour

•Foetal Complications:

  1. Large caput formation
  2. Excessive molding of the head
  3. Intra-cranial hemorrhage
  4. Hypoxia
  5. Foetal distress
  6. Intrauterine death

•Maternal Complications:

  1. Obstructed labour
  2. Extensive vaginal and perineal lacerations
  3. Third degree tears
  4. Uterine inertia
  5. Uterine rupture
  6. Impacted foetus
  7. Maternal distress
  8. Maternal death
Post Natal Complications:

• Infection of the lacerations

• Delayed healing of the repaired perineum and vaginal tissues

• Sloughing of the vaginal wall, resulting in Vessico-vaginal fistula and/or recto-vaginal fistula

• Anemia

• Puerperal infection

• Cystocele and Rectocele: because of the prolonged labour during each delivery, there is added stretching of the vaginal wall muscles.

• This causes a prolapse of either the bladder or rectum to bulge into the vagina (1)

 

FGM & Religion

FGM & RELIGION

Islam

Circumcision is prescribed for both males and females. The correct view is that circumcision is obligatory for males and that it is one of the symbols of Islam, and that circumcision of women is mustahabb (loved/preferred/recommended)  but not obligatory.

There are reports in the Sunnah which indicate that circumcision for women is prescribed in Islam. In Madeenah there was a woman who circumcised women and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to her: “Do not go to the extreme in cutting; that is better for the woman and more liked by the husband.”  Narrated by Abu Dawood (5271), classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.

Dr. Haamid al-Ghawaabi says Female circumcision has not been prescribed for no reason, rather there is wisdom behind it and it brings many benefits.

Mentioning some of these benefits, Dr. Haamid al-Ghawaabi says:

  • The secretions of the labia minora accumulate in uncircumcised women and turn rancid, so they develop an unpleasant odour which may lead to infections of the vagina or urethra. I have seen many cases of sickness caused by the lack of circumcision.
  • Circumcision reduces excessive sensitivity of the clitoris which may cause it to increase in size to 3 centimeters when aroused, which is very annoying to the husband, especially at the time of intercourse.
  • Another benefit of circumcision is that it prevents stimulation of the clitoris which makes it grow large in such a manner that it causes pain.
  • Circumcision prevents spasms of the clitoris which are a kind of inflammation.
  • Circumcision reduces excessive sexual desire.

Then Dr al-Ghawaabi refutes those who claim that female circumcision leads to frigidity by noting:

Frigidity has many causes, and this claim is not based on any sound statistics comparing circumcised women with uncircumcised women, except in the case of Pharaonic circumcision which is where the clitoris is excised completely. This does in fact lead to frigidity but it is contrary to the kind of circumcision enjoined by the Prophet of mercy (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “Do not destroy” i.e., do not uproot or excise. This alone is evidence that speaks for itself, because medicine at that time knew very little about this sensitive organ (the clitoris) and its nerves.

From Liwa’ al-Islam magazine, issue 8 and 10; article entitled Khitaan al-Banaat (circumcision of girls):images

The female gynaecologist Sitt al-Banaat Khaalid says in an article entitled Khitaan al-Banaat Ru’yah Sihhiyyah (Female circumcision from a health point of view):

“For us in the Muslim world female circumcision is, above all else, obedience to Islam, which means acting in accordance with the fitrah and following the Sunnah which encourages it. We all know the dimensions of Islam, and that everything in it must be good in all aspects, including health aspects. If the benefits are not apparent now, they will become known in the future, as has happened with regard to male circumcision – the world now knows its benefits and it has become widespread among all nations despite the opposition of some groups.”

Then she mentioned some of the health benefits of female circumcision and said:

  • It takes away excessive libido from women
  • It prevents unpleasant odours which result from foul secretions beneath the prepuce.
  • It reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections
  • It reduces the incidence of infections of the reproductive system.

In the book on Traditions that affect the health of women and children, which was published by the World Health Organization in 1979 it says: With regard to the type of female circumcision which involves removal of the prepuce of the clitoris, which is similar to male circumcision, no harmful health effects have been noted.And Allaah knows best.

Of course scientifically speaking, the above “information” is totally false and the many harmful side effects of FGM are well documented, researched and noted by the some of the best scientists and doctors around the world.

Christianity & Jusdaism

FGM is practiced by several Christian and Jewish peoples of Africa and other areas. However, there is no biblical reference whatsoever to legitimize this practice.

VOW Articles On FGM

ORGANIZATIONS VOW IS SPONSORING/FUNDING

SISTERFA

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CLITORAID

Given the barbaric nature of clitoral excision or female genital mutilation (FGM), Rael, spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement and human rights activist, inspired the creation of Clitoraid, a private non-profit organization whose goal is to assist all FGM victims who want to have their clitoris rebuilt. Clitoraid is concentrating its charitable endeavor in Burkina Faso, West Africa where millions of genitally maimed women reside. Since 2006, Clitoraid has been able to train several doctors and assist in providing clitoral repair surgery for many women around the world who have traveled to France or the United States for their surgical repair treatment. All of our patients have reported improvements after the surgery, and about 60 percent of them have experienced orgasm – something they thought would never happen for them. We’re now in the final stages of the construction of our ‘Pleasure Hospital’ in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso that is due to open on March 8, 2014. There, we will offer the surgical procedure free of charge. This hospital is Clitoraid’s main goal at the moment, since most African women cannot afford this surgery that represents a 2 year salary for them, let alone traveling to another country to be treated. Our hospital is a dream come true for countless FGM victims who long to be whole again.

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