When we were already struggling to fight against social evils existing in our society like dowry deaths, domestic violence, and female infanticide, which deny women to live a dignified life; we encountered, perhaps the most gruesome social evil there could ever exist. Prevalent in the tribal communities of Africa, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Infibulation has existed for thousands of years now. FGM is the practice of excising the clitoris and labia of a girl or woman and stitching together the edges of the vulva while a small area is left for the purpose of urination and menstrual blood. The complete scrapping of the vagina and getting rid of the clitoris or the pleasure-seeking part of a female body is done to prevent young girls from having sexual intercourse. After the surgery is done, the girl’s body is tied for a period of 15-40 days so that the wound can heal, owing to the immobile condition of the body. According to the 1985 UK Legislation, FGM is illegal to be carried out in the UK. Furthermore, permanent citizens are also prohibited to get FGM done outside the country and can get imprisonment of 14 years.
The practice is not only heinous, life-threatening, and excruciatingly dangerous but extremely unsafe too. FGM is generally carried out by midwives and healers in extremely unsterile and unhygienic conditions using knives and razors. On the first night of the marriage, de-infibulation, or the process of getting rid of the surgical vaginal closing is meant to be carried out by the husband through penial penetration or simply sexual intercourse. The amount of pain owing to the opening of stitches and immediately performing sexual intercourse is simply unimaginable and traumatic. The passage of the vaginal opening is further cut open to allow childbirth because the surgically closed area is too small to allow something like that. According to United Nations Population Fund, over 200 million women alive today have gone through this traumatic experience and are prone to urinary and genital tract infection, pain and hemorrhage, complications in childbirth and social, psychological, and sexual complications. The practice is also a prerequisite of marriage for women in many communities.
In a society where young girls battle the idea of an ideal body image, the practice of FGM takes that to another level where they necessarily have to get rid of their body parts to suit the functioning of the society. The practice seeks to control the sexual behavior of a woman from a very young age often leaving nothing but memories of trauma and horror. Reading the brutal personal accounts of women who went through this practice, makes you question the centuries of struggle we have fought to make women around us feel equal. This is perhaps the starkest example of how women too are enablers of patriarchy.
Image Source – Forbes