For the sake of purity (and control). Female genital mutilation.

Links 1993 Winter;9(5):6-8, 30.

For the sake of purity (and control). Female genital mutilation.

Gilbert D.


PIP: In 1973 approximately 1 million girls will be victimized by female genital mutilation (FGM), widely practiced in more than 20 African nations from Mauritania to the Ivory Coast in the west, to Egypt and North Tanzania in the east, as well as in Oman, Bahrain, North and South Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. FGM takes place among the Moslem populations of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia and the Jewish Falashas in Ethiopia. FGM is practiced on babies just a few days old to girls right before marriage or young women pregnant with their first child. The most extreme mutilation is called infibulation. In Somalia, almost 100% of the women are infibulated, and so are more than 80% of the women in north and central Sudan. In Ethiopia/Eritrea, Mali, and Sierra Leone, 90% of the women have undergone some form of genital mutilation. The rate reaches 70% in Burkina Faso; 60% in Kenya, Gambia, and the Ivory Coast; and 50% in Senegal, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, and Nigeria. The mutilation often results in accumulation of menstrual blood and pelvic inflammatory disease often leading to infertility. Between 20% and 25% of infertility in Sudan has been attributed to female genital mutilation. The practice of FGM has existed for centuries, and some claim it originated in the Nile Valley during the Pharaonic era. On the other hand, Muslim countries like Iraq, Syria, and Tunisia do not practice FGM. The London Black Women’s Health Action Project set up an educational network to prevent mutilations and to dispel the myth of religion about FGM. FORWARD convened the First Study Conference on Genital Mutilation of Girls in Europe in 1992 and deemed FGM a form of child abuse. Local campaigns in Africa, Asia, and the Arab world educate against FGM. The Inter-Africa Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has offices in more than 20 African nations to sensitize the public about the harmful effects of FGM. In Nigeria, the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives presents plays in the local markets about the complications of FGM.

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