(WARNING: This is a post with a sensitive issue.)
Watching the news one night on BBC made me and my daughter squirm in horror. The boob tube showed a little six-year-old girl being tied and restrained by several adult women. She was horrifyingly crying while the adult females were casually grinning in front of the camera. The girl was about to undergo the ritual of female circumcision and the news tells that more than 100 million in the world underwent or is undergoing such brutal practices.
Photo from here.
It made me remember an article from a 1999 Reader’s Digest issue (Desert Flower) which is about a supermodel whose name is Waris Dirie and her ordeal with female genitalia mutilation (FGM) or female circumcision when she was but a child.
Waris, from Somalia, was one of those little girls during her time who had to be mutilated because of a horrible belief that there is something bad in between a girl or a woman’s legs. At five, she was made to sit on a rock, excited about the time because of the lie her parents told her, made to bite only a root, with her mother straddling her body, and her arms around her mother’s thighs. She was sliced by a gypsy woman with a razor blade (still with dried blood on its jagged edge when she first saw it; and was made clean by the gypsy woman by spitting on it and wiping it on her dress). The little girl, needless to say, lost consciousness only to find when she came back to her senses that she is being sewed up with the aid of acacia thorns which were used to poke holes in her flesh. A miniscule hole was left for urination and menstruation. She fainted again of the indescribable pain from the whole process.
What a way to protect the little children. People say that male circumcision is mutilation but female circumcision is more excessively inhumane and a very true picture of mutilation. Of course, we have to respect each other’s culture but the brutal practice for me, that involves little innocent girls, is clear violation of human rights.
Are those people from Africa (those who practice this act) really think that the following is not brutal?
Distinct Surgeries Made during Female Circumcision *
- Clitoridectomy – removes all or part of the clitoris and the hood, or prepuce, which covers it. Sometimes called sunna circumcision.
- Excision – includes clitoridectomy but also removes some or all of the labia minora; all or part of the labia majora might also be cut.
- Infibulation – After removing the labia, the sides of the vulva are joined so that scar tissue forms over the vaginal opening, leaving a small gap for urination and menstruation.
- Mild Sunna – this involves a symbolic pricking or slight nicking of the clitoris or prepuce.
Waris was able to do something for herself and rallied against the practice. She is happily married now after undergoing an operation for the restoration of her genitalia. I am happy for her but it is a sad fact that millions at present are victims still of this brutality.
*Female Circumcision in Africa, Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2004