The world calls it FGM or Female Genital Mutilation. I prefer to call it exactly what it is: a violation of a woman’s human rights. Alice Walker has written a book about it and I read it about twenty years ago while I was doing some work for the UN. I was so horrified, I threw up. But I read every word of the truth and went on to do some research.
It is Black History month and I decided that I wanted to write about this because it is happening around the world to women of color. It is an old tribal custom that is supposed to make the little girls marriageable. It has been handed down from generation to generation for centuries.
I am going to describe this procedure because we have to know what women around the world are suffering. And as people are immigrating here, they are bringing this barbaric ritual with them and so it is happening here and in European countries.
When girls begin to get their menses, their mothers take them to the tribal woman who performs this cruel procedure on little girls so a man will want to marry them. Their mothers hold them down as there is no anesthesia used. The cutting and sewing are done while the girl screams and cries. It is terribly painful.
Now, the reason for this barbaric act is that they cut the labia or sew it up so there is only a small spot for urination. If she has sex, it would tear her apart. Sometimes, the clitorus is removed so that she will never feel any sexual pleasure. If there is no pleasure, then the girl/woman will not stray because sex is painful and causes bleeding as well as pain.
At first I was very upset with the mothers, then I realized it was the way they all grew up and they didn’t know any better. They didn’t know that the majority of women do not have this experience.My horror was so deep it was a physical reaction to the words.
Whether you are male or female I realize that most of you would react in horror. But the men brought up with this ritual feel that they own the woman and since women are inferior to men, it is a way to keep her from wandering into another man’s bed. We all know how women seduce men and that the men are innocent.
Men are so solidly behind this ritual that some of them have their wives sewn shut before going away on business to ensure her fidelity. Some check their wives’ genitals everyday to make sure she is intact. Childbirth is even more painful than usual because of the mutilation these girls/women go through. Some die from infection, some try to run away. It is nothing but pure torture and misogyny.
It is a serious problem and it isn’t disappearing. Some girls/women just don’t get married so they won’t have to have it done. Others are tortured and killed. Humankind is a dysfunctional species living in a dysfunctional world. Men and women need to know what is happening so we can get the practice stopped.
This little girl has survived the procedure.
Tears are still streaming down her face.