Welcome back to my series on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. If you are just joining us go here to read about why I am doing this series. FGM/C is a scourge on the modern society we are trying to build and it get less attention than it ought to. It is a harmful cultural practice for the most part and it needs to stop. If Mary Slessor could stop the killing of twins then I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to stop female genital mutilation.
This post will be debunking some of the myths that have been proffered as arguments to support FGM/C. I call them myths because that’s what they are, they are not true. They are merely constellation of lies passed down through generations to provide a veil behind which traditional “cutters” can hide to perform this act of savagery.
Over time, various parts of the female external genitalia have been targeted in this act of “circumcision” many of which I believe are a result of “Trial and Error” or Accidental “discovery”. This has necessitated the classification of FGM/C into Four(4) types
- Type I: Excision of the prepuce with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.
- Type II: Excision of the prepuce and clitoris together with partial or total excision of the labia minora.
- Type III: Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulations)
Type IV Unclassified
- Pricking, piercing or incision of the clitoris and/or labia
- Stretching of the clitoris and or labia.
- Cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissues
- Scrapping (angurya cut) of the vagina/orifice or cutting of the anterior vagina wall (gishiri cut).
- Introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to cause bleeding or herbs into the vagina with the aim of tightening or narrowing the vagina
- Any other procedure that falls under the definition of FGM
MYTH: Girls should be “circumcised” because it prevents promiscuity.
It sounds funny because having a girls circumcised does not determine that she won’t be promiscuous. Neither does having a girl uncircumcised equate her being promiscuous. Promiscuity is a personal choice and a thing of morals. Instead we ought to work on developing good morals in our children, our sons and daughters, than mutilating the child.
MYTH: Stretching a girls labia will make sex more enjoyable for her husband and make child birth easier.
In some parts of Africa, Malawi precisely, the female’s labia is rubbed consistently with hot eggs (holy freaking hell) till it becomes enlarged and flabby. The believe is that it will grip the male phallus better during sex. Nothing could be further from the truth.
MYTH: It is done to preserve virginity.
This makes us to cycle back to our first myth. The hope is that when a girl child has been mutilated, it will prevent her from having premarital sex. However we find out that females, like males, like any other person have natural urges and will tend to explore. However, since one of the organs involved in sexual arousal in the female is the clitoris, which is cut off (Type 1), it is difficult for these survivors to be aroused for sexual intercourse and hence it tends to be painful. This does not however mean that virginity is “preserved”.
MYTH: “We are circumcising her as a rite of passage to womanhood.”
Some cultures of the world defer this barbaric act till when the female is an adolescent. The point she is well aware of what is being done to her and she will be powerless to stop it. Who put the womanhood of a female in her vagina. The woman’s right to be called a woman does not lie within her vagina and we need not search it out by carving barbaric marks within her. Girls are born perfect.
MYTH: Cutting the girl ensures good hygiene.
Fa-fa-foul! Let me break it down as simple as possible. The female external genitalia naturally has its own microorganisms. These are referred to as normal vaginal flora. These normal flora if present in some other parts of the body is sufficient amounts may cause illness but they wont do that in the vagina. However, sometimes these organisms act up and cause Urinary tract infection (UTI) or Vagina Infection which may present as Itching, vaginal discharge, painful urination etc.
So imagine a girl starts itching, she’s having discharge, she is deemed “unhygienic”. Some people now decided that they next thing is to cut her but here’s the thing; some of the herbs used for the procedure are actually medicinal, taking care of the Infection and speeding up healing and recovery. In times past, when there was no knowledge of orthodox medicine, this act seemed right and it has been passed down for generations without questions being asked. There you have it.
Oh Wow. Another long post!!! However I believe you guys have been enlightened enough. I believe our generation will be the one to finally #EndFGM. Talk about it in your community. If you are a survivor, please speak up. If you want to share your story, please reach out to us. If you are worried about your identity, we will protect your identity.
If you have questions or need clarifications or you just feel a need to share with us,
Follow me on Twitter: @Okizle and join the convo #EndFGMng
Peace. Love. And Chicken Grease.