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FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)

The international Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation celebrated every year on the 6th of February is a day which was put in place by the UN to raise awareness and eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM). The theme for this year 2020 is “Unleashing Youth Power”.

  • What is female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) refers to the cutting, removing, or sewing close all or part of a girl’s or a woman’s external genitals for no medical reason. This practice is common in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade/knife or other crude objects which are most often than not unsterilized. According to statistics from the World Health Organisation, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa; the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.These girls are cut between infancy that is before the age of 5 to about 15 years with procedures varying according to the country or ethnic group. Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures or methods that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. This procedure has no health benefits for girls and women. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and is a form of gender based violence against girls/women.

  • PROCEDURE

This practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. In some communities, health care providers perform FGM due to the erroneous belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized. The procedures differ according to the country or ethnic group. It includes the following types; removal of the clitoral hood and clitoral glands; removal of the inner labia; and removal of the inner and outer labia and the closure of the vulva. The WHO strongly urges health professionals not to perform such procedures.

It is a violation of the rights of children since it is mostly carried out on children.The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and sometimes the right to life when the procedure results in death.

 

  • CONSEQUENCES

FGM has no health benefits, but it harms girls and women in so many ways. As a matter of fact, risks increase with the different procedures and it has so many complications both in the long and short run.

Immediate complications/ consequences can include:

  • Severe pain
  • Excessive bleeding (haemorrhage)
  • Genital tissue swelling
  • Fever
  • Infections like tetanus
  • Urinary problems
  • Wound healing problems
  • Injury to surrounding genital tissue
  • Shock
  • Death in some cases.

Long-term consequences can include:

  • Psychological problems (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, etc.)
  • Urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections)
  • Vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections)
  • Menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.)
  • Sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction due to no sexual feeling, etc.)
  • Increased risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, etc.) and newborn deaths.
  • Need for later surgeries: for example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening (type 3) needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth (deinfibulation). Sometimes the genital tissue is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing both immediate and long-term risks;

From all the above-mentioned complications and consequences, Bridgers Association calls upon us all (the public) to join us to fight this ill and stamp out this malpractice from our society. We strongly stand against this practice as it violates goals 3, 5, and 10 (good health and wellbeing, gender equality and reduced inequalities respectively) of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN. We join our voices with the WHO, the UN and other organisations in the world to fight against this. We are out to sensitize the public and raise awareness on the complications involved with this practice and the need to end it as soon as possible.

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