Female genital mutilation should be stopped
Female Genital Mutilation or FGM can be explained as a procedure that is performed or inflicted on women and girls in some developing countries (Klein et al., 2018). FGM entails the altering or cutting of female genitalia. There are many known consequences of inflicting FGM on women including viral and bacterial infections, psychological problems, and obstetrical complications. The FGM topic has been taken up by activists in areas where the practice is rampant. The FGM topic has fundamental societal importance, cultural, significance, and ramifications. In this informative piece, the implications and consequences of FGM are discussed. There have been many efforts put in place to eradicate the FGM vice although certain societal and cultural dynamics have allowed FGM to be deeply rooted in some regions. It is important for more interventions to be instituted in the communities where FGM is practiced as a ritual in order to have realistic chances of eradicating this practice. Concerted efforts are necessary for the purpose of developing programs and studies that increase the level of awareness on the consequences of FGM.
Female circumcision is the practice of manipulating, removing or altering the exterior genitalia of women and young girls (Klein et al., 2018). FGM is conducted using some sharp object like a blade or glass by some unskilled town, religious, or traditional leader. In some instances medical professionals conducted FGM. FGM is quite different from male circumcision in that it unlike male circumcision that has real health benefits female circumcision has no known medical benefits (Kandala & Komba, 2018). It is widely agreed upon that FGM violates the human rights of the victims and increases the health complications of the person on whom it is inflicted (Kandala & Komba, 2018). According to the World Health Organization, FGM intentionally causes injury to the genital organs of the female without any medical reason (WHO, 2018). There are no health benefits associated with the FGM procedure. FGM procedure can result in serious urinating problems, bleeding, infections, later cysts, and childbirth complications. FGM also increases the possibility of infant mortality (WHO, 2018). If indeed it has been proven that FGM is a vice that must be destroyed in the modern day world why is it that it still persists?
There are many cultural practices in the developing world that have been retained to this day. Some of these cultures include FGM and other torturous activities all done in the name of rites of passage. Some of the rituals have no health implication although FGM is one of those backward and retrogressive cultures that the society must be trained to abandon. Surprisingly some underage girls have been indoctrinated into accepting these retrogressive cultures. There is news of young girls who leave school to get married to elderly men. Some girls go through FGM willingly. Others abandon their education for marriage life without cognizance of the repercussions involved. The vicious cycle of FGM and early marriage makes high infant mortality, FGM related diseases, and infections, and poverty inevitable. This is why society must be enlightened on the need to abandon some of these retrogressive and dangerous self-inflicted cultures.
The World Health Organization statistics indicate that an excess of 200 million women and girls living today have undergone FGM in thirty African countries, Asia, and the Middle East (WHO, 2018). Furthermore, FGM has been found to be commonly inflicted on children and young girls ranging from infancy to 15 years of age (WHO, 2018). This is a violation of women rights and human rights as well. The people who perform FGM have influential roles in the communities they come from. Traditional circumcisers use unorthodox methods to conduct the procedure such as using the same knife or blade on many girls hence risking their health with infections and terminal illnesses. Healthcare professionals may be involved in FGM due to unfounded beliefs that medical FGM procedure is safer. According to the recommendation from the World Health Organization, health professionals are strongly advised against conducting any FGM procedures (WHO, 2018). If there is a universal consensus from the World Health Organization that FGM is wrong why is the retrogressive practice still persistent?
FGM is widely recognized as an illegal practice that violates human rights and the rights or women and young girls (WHO, 2018). It is a reflection of the in-depth inequality and discrimination of sexes. FGM is a depiction of extreme discrimination perpetrated against women but yet it persists in this modern day. FGM violates the rights of women and girls to their physical integrity, security, health, freedom from cruelty, torture, degrading and inhumane treatment. FGM violates the victims living rights when the FGM procedure leads to their death. FGM experiences exacerbate the short term and long term health consequences for girls and women affected by the vice. It is unacceptable from the health and human rights perspective. With FGM the risk of adverse health outcomes increases FGM severity. The world health organization opposes any form of FGM (WHO, 2019). The organization is also resolute in its opposition to this practice among healthcare providers. FGM, according to WHO should not and must not be done even medically (medicalization of FGM is against WHO resolution).
Some of the short term FGM health risks include the following.
Excessive Bleeding: IF the clitoral artery or another blood vessel suffers a cut then the FGM procedure may result in hemorrhage (WHO, 2019).
Severe Pain: The mutilation of the sensitive tissue in the genitals and the never endings can result in extreme pain (WHO, 2019). Owing to the fact that most FGM procedures are conducted illegally anesthesia is seldom used and if used, it is not effective. The process of healing is torturous due to the excessive pain involved. FGM type III involves extensive mutilation procedures that take longer to heal hence making the duration and intensity of pain extreme (WHO, 2019).
Swelling of genital tissue: Owing to the local infection or inflammatory response involved the genitals may swell resulting in discomfort and pain (WHO, 2019).
Shock: This can be occasioned by the hemorrhage, infection or pain.
Infections: The use of unsterilized equipment can result in contamination. Some traditional circumcisers use the exact instruments on many genital mutilation procedures. The infection can continue to the healing period and cause further irreparable complications (WHO, 2019).
HIV: The link between HIV and FGM is unconfirmed although genital mutilation using the same instruments in the absence of sterilization is likely to increase the chances of HIV transmission among the women and girls who undergo FGM together (WHO, 2019).
Some of the short-term risks of female genital mutilation include urination problems including urinary retention and pain when passing urine, impaired healing of wounds, psychological consequences, and death. The shock, pain, and physical force employed during FGM makes the procedure a traumatic experience that can result in psychological problems. Some the infections sustained during FGM including hemorrhage and tetanus are likely to cause shock and death.
There are also health risks that can be sustained long-term as a result of FGM. Some of these perpetual FGM consequences include pain, infections, extended pain when urinating, menstrual problems, keloids, HIV, impairment of sexual health, obstetric complication, obstetric fistula, perinatal risks, and psychological consequences (WHO, 2019). Menstrual problems come from obstruction of virginal passage and this is likely to cause pain during menstruation a condition known as dysmenorrhea (WHO, 2019). FGM can also cause problems with passage of menstrual blood and irregular menses especially in FGM type III (WHO, 2019). Keloids involve the formation of excessive scar tissues where the cut is inflicted (WHO, 2019). FGM damages the genital tissues that are highly sensitive, more so the clitoris (RC & V, 2014). This impacts on sexual sensitivity of the woman and hence results into sexual problems like diminished sexual pleasure and desire, pain while having sex, the difficulty experienced during penetration, the absence of an orgasm (a condition known as anorgasmia), and reduced lubrication when having intercourse (RC & V, 2014). The trauma associated with the memories of FGM, the pain, and the formation of scar tissue can cause sexual problems in future (RC & V, 2014). Obstetric complications may cause difficulties when undergoing child labor, increase cesarean section risks, cause postpartum hemorrhage, and obstetric lacerations (WHO, 2019). FGM is also directly associated with obstetric fistula although the association is not established yet.
In conclusion, the psychological consequences of FGM can cause terminal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders (WHO, 2019). Some societies still hold on to the cultural relevance of FGM without paying regard to the psychological complications involved in the procedure. Researchers like Julios (2018) have proposed an intensive social media awareness campaign against FGM. The only way FGM can be conquered is through an intensive online and government-sponsored campaign against the retrogressive and demeaning procedure. FGM discriminates against the sanctity of the female body and perpetuates dishonor and abuse of women rights. Women all over the world should stand up for their peers who suffer under the disguise of generational traditions and cultures that steal the dignity of their fellow women. In this day and age FGM should not be even a concern. It has been proven that the practice has no health benefits, unlike male circumcision. There should be global standard and national laws against FGM. Anyone caught practices FGM should be held in contempt and subjected to jail time.
Julios, C. (2018). Female genital mutilation and social media. London: Routledge
Kandala, N.-B., & Komba, P. N. (2018). Female Genital Mutilation around The World: Analysis of Medical Aspects, Law and Practice. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
Klein, E., Helzner, E., Shayowitz, M., Kohlhoff, S., & Smith-Norowitz, T. A. (2018). Female Genital Mutilation: Health Consequences and Complications – A Short Literature Review. Obstetrics and Gynecology International. Hindawi Limited. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/7365715
RC, B., & V, U. (2014). Immediate Health Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). Place of publication not identified: Knowledge Centre for the Health Services at The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH.
WHO. (2019). Health risks of female genital mutilation (FGM), Sexual and Reproductive Health. Retrieved 27 February, 2019 from https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/fgm/health_consequences_fgm/en/
WHO. (2018). Female genital mutilation, World Health Organization. Retrieved 27 February, 2019 from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation
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