Sunday, 26 February 2012

Hard hitting : Female genital mutilation (FGM)

This is by no means easy read or writing. I have worked with women who have been subject to FGM and they all share the same story of pain, confusion, trauma and debilitation. It is unfortunate that to this very day, the practise is rife and not just exclusive to middle to low income countries, but also in countries where the female sexuality is considered taboo and therefore FGM is a means to ensure chastity prior to marriage. Is it religion or is it due to culture?

I made some notes as soon as I woke up this morning.

I am appalled by the stories and even more so appalled when one of my patients described her mother, also subject to FGM dragging her to the local midwife who performed the procedure in her hut using a blunt blade.

Young girls from sub Saharan Africa, middle east and South East Asia have no voice and those who are meant to protect them are propagating the practise. There is no biological reason as to why this procedure is beneficial to the female health. I would rank it high up on the list of perceived to be aesthetic body morphing which also includes the 'lotus feet' of Chinese women.

I have worked with GP's from Sudan and Somalia who tell me that it is not only the tribes people who carry out FGM, those who are living in the urban areas carry the belief that FGM is aesthetic and therefore send their young female off springs to have the procedure under sterile conditions of an operation theatre. This means there are surgeons who are willing to carry out the procedure.

WHO have published statistics for FGM :

Regardless of who does it or why, there are consequences to this procedure. No amount of after care, psychological support or antidepressants can remedy the violation experienced by these women, nevertheless there are interventions to help. Not only sex is taboo, to enjoy sex is wrong so therefore the removal of the clitoris results in numb women who will be chaste in their agony. For those who had the procedure expertly done by surgeons, they are lucky to not suffer septicaemia or haematocolpos (collection of menstrual blood in the pelvis due to scarring ), but can go on living with the assumption at large that they are ignorant of sex as a pleasurable act. Sex is for babies only.

Much is needed to be done to stamp out such practises. There needs to be education and awareness that the female form is not ugly or unclean. NGO's and WHO work tirelessly to protect children and women from the brutality of archaic practise, but every now and again, it takes a civilian to help recognise such a practise is going on in their community or society to help these organisations to target their efforts and act swiftly.

The blogging world is wide reaching and into all corners I hope this message goes out. Women and men need to stand up, and recognise brutal practices taking place and question the validity and necessity of them. Protecting innocent children is everyone's responsibility as is protecting our own, I salute the survivors of this torture  and speak of their experience in order to get the world to take notice.

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