Female Genital Mutilation

Different societies have been under the guidance of different set of
laws and culture. It is worth noting that these rules and regulations
have been determined by the time period or rather the era in which the
society lived. This underlines the fact that different generations
operated under different set of rules and had different cultural
practices as well. This is in line with the dynamic nature of societies
coupled with the demands of the particular time periods. Needless to
say, some practices have eventually been relegated to the periphery
thanks to their evaluation as draconian, retrogressive and as of being
of no use to the human society. While various practices have been
dropped by different societies on these grounds, none seems more
controversial than female circumcision, or rather female genital
mutilation. Debates pertaining to female genital mutilation have been
relatively recent. Little was said about the practice in Africa while
little was known about the same in the Western countries until the
second half of the 20th century. Medical practitioners and activists
from Africa brought the attention of international organizations to the
health consequences of the practice in the 50s and 60s (Lockhat, 2004).
Still, no formal statement of policy was made pertaining to the same was
made until 1979, when a seminar arranged for by WHO in Khartoum to
examine the conventional practices that affect the health of children
and women recommended that governments strive to get rid of the practice
(Lockhat, 2004).
Thesis Statement: While there may be differing opinions pertaining to
the issue, it is evident that the practice comes with immense negative
health consequences on the health of women and children in which case it
should not be allowed to continue.
Currently, female genital mutilation is practiced in around 28 countries
especially in Africa. While not required by any religion, the practice
takes place among animists, Christians and Muslims, as well as one
Jewish sect. underlining the prevalence of the practice is the fact that
in Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali and
Eritrea, between 43% and 97% of women in reproductive age have undergone
it. Of course, there are variations in prevalence of the practice across
the varied ethnic groups (Lockhat, 2004). For instance, in Mali where
the proportion of women that has gone through the practice stands at
94%, the Tamachek community has a prevalence rate of only 17%.
Nevertheless, the negative health consequences of the practice cannot be
understated (Lockhat, 2004).
First, the practice jeopardizes the health and livelihood of women.
Scholars have noted that FGM has a role to play in the increase in the
transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), especially
considering that a single surgical instrument is used to carry out
multiple operations (Skaine, 2005). On the same note, women undergoing
such practices have often died from intense bleeding, not to mention
complications such as urine retention, severe pain, hemorrhage,
ulceration in the genital region, as well as injuries to the adjacent
In addition, FGM compromises the fundamental goal of human society,
which revolves around the preservation of the human race. This is
especially considering its effects on the reproductive system of women,
especially with regard to the long-term consequences (Skaine, 2005).
These include abscesses, cysts, destruction of the urethra leading to
urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, painful sexual intercourse
(Dyspareunia), not to mention difficulties in childbirth (Skaine, 2005).
It has been well acknowledged that women who have gone through the
practice often have complicated deliveries in caesarian section, with
high prevalence of inpatient prenatal death, infant resuscitation,
episiotomy, postpartum hemorrhage and extended maternal hospital stay
(Toubia & Rahman, 2000).
Moreover, female genital mutilation comes as a violation of the rights
of women and girls (Karanja, 2003). It is well understood that human
being have certain inalienable rights that are not only guaranteed to
them, but also cannot be justifiably violated. Indeed, there arguably
exists no other more fundamental right for civilized human beings that
the right to the integrity to their bodies. It is worth noting that a
large number of women that undergo female genital mutilation are way too
young to make decisions pertaining to their bodies or even give their
informed consent (Karanja, 2003). In fact, most of them do not have a
choice as they would be subjected to social stigma if they choose to
remain uncut. In the long-term, women endure feelings of depression,
anxiety and a sense of incompleteness (Skaine, 2005). Indeed, the
practice is essentially a form of violence meted against women, and
comes off as an expression of patriarchal oppression.
On the same note, female genital mutilation involves the amputation of
the sensitive tissues in a woman’s vagina including the clitoris,
which can lower the woman’s capacity to experience sexual pleasure
(Karanja, 2003). Scholars note that infibulated women may find it
painful to consummate their marriages thanks to the small vaginal
opening, as well as the lack of flexibility in the scar tissue forming
it. Indeed, bleeding and tearing up are common, with a high possibility
that the infibulations scar will be cut open to enable penetration
(Toubia & Rahman, 2000). This is often extremely painful for the women,
not to mention the high likelihood that it will result in infections,
cysts and bleeding.
Lastly, female genital mutilation has been associated with increased
rates of infertility in women. Indeed, studies done in Southern Sudan
have shown that about 20-25% of infertility cases in women can be traced
back to the detrimental effects of the practice (Toubia & Rahman, 2000).
Unfortunately, there has been inconclusive research on the exact link or
connection between Female Genital Mutilation and infertility (Karanja,
2003). Nevertheless, scholars have noted that the infections of the
reproductive system in the long-term may have caused an increase in the
same, not to mention the psychological effects and trauma that comes
with the practice. In fact, researchers have stated that anxiety and
depression that emanates from female circumcision has a bearing on the
infertility rates in women.
In conclusion, issues pertaining to female genital mutilation have been
extremely controversial in the contemporary human society. The topic has
gained significance only recently, thanks to the activism of paramedics
in Africa on the effects of the practice on the health of women. (Thesis
Statement restated) While there may be differing opinions, the practice
has negative effects on women’s health, in which case it should be
banned. Female genital mutilation often results in increased cases of
HIV/AIDS thanks to the use of a single instrument in numerous
operations. In addition, it causes infections that affect reproductive
health of women, while reducing their experience of sexual pleasure,
something that may jeopardize their marriages. Not only is the practice
a violation of the fundamental rights of women, but it is also credited
with high prevalence of infertility amongst women thanks to the
psychological trauma and depression coupled with the infections that
emanate from the same.
Karanja, D. N. (2003). Female genital mutilation in Africa: Gender,
religion and pastoral care. United States: Xulon Press.
Lockhat, H. (2004). Female genital mutilation: Treating the tears.
London: Middlesex University Press.
Momoh, C. (2005). Female genital mutilation. Abingdon: Radcliffe.
(Momoh, 2005)
Skaine, R. (2005). Female genital mutilation: Legal, cultural, and
medical issues. Jefferson, N.C. [u.a.: McFarland.
Toubia, N., & Rahman, A. (2000). Female genital mutilation: A practical
guide to worldwise laws and practices. London: Zed.

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