6 February 2021

Against female genital mutilation: torture, not culture

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6 February is the International Day against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), inhumane practices that include partial or complete removal or other injury to the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons. On average, girls undergoing FGM are between 0 and 15 years of age, no religion prescribes such practices linked to social traditions of controlling female sexuality that cause lifelong physical and psychological damage, up to and including death as a result of infectious complications caused by the precarious hygienic conditions in which the 'operations' are carried out, which are almost always performed not by doctors but by people in the 'trade' who also use knives, razor blades or glass shards.

St is estimated that there are more than 200 million living victims of this violence and that, unless changes are made, 68 million more will be affected by 2030.

FGM include different types of proceduresremoval of the outer part of the clitoris, or even that of the labia minora, up to infibulation, with removal of the labia majora and labia minora and stitching of the vaginal introitus.

The consequences of infibulation are very serious and painful, obstructing menstrual flow and urination. Serious problems even after many years when having sex and when giving birth, so much so that it has been found damage also in children born to infibulated women. Especially in the case of infibulation: acute pain, shock, injury to nearby areas, infections, lacerations, bleeding and septicaemia. Chronic pain can be accompanied by pelvic infections, cysts, abscesses and ulcers, fertility risks and menstrual problems, as well as the obvious decrease in libido - the main reason for resorting to the practice-. and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Moreover, since in the case of infibulation during childbirth it is very difficult to avoid the tear, the woman undergoes further infibulation afterwards so as not to compromise her husband's sexual pleasure.

"It is not a violence that stops at the moment of aggression, it is instead a continuous torture for life". (Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture).

Female genital mutilation has been condemned by the WHO. Among the many groups and foundations mobilised to help girls and women escape torture and face life after violence, the one founded by Waris Dirie, herself a FGM survivor.

Born in 1965 in the Somali desert on the border with Ethiopia, Waris Dirie undergoes genital mutilation at the age of five. Eight years later, at the age of 13, she escaped from a forced marriage to a man her grandfather's age. When she arrived in London, she began to work and, at the age of majority, was 'discovered' as a model, had great success and landed in New York. It was in the United States that, in an interview given to Laura Ziv for the magazine Marie Clare, Waris Dirie decides to talk about his experience with FGM, becoming activist against female genital mutilation and UN Ambassador.

In 1997 he wrote autobiography "Desert Flower -translation of his name Waris- from which the film of the same name will be made. He later published many other books on African women and genital mutilation, arousing great empathy in readers and making the world aware of this intolerable reality.Saving Safa", "Desert children", "Letter to my mother'.in which she forgives her mother who held her down while she was being mutilated, "Desert dawn'., "Black women, white country'.

In 2002 he set up a foundation, which since 2010 has carried the name "The Desert Flower Foundation". In the site, the guidelines of the work:

  • raising awareness about FGM (through seminars, conferences, charity events).
  • Prevention work (to protect girls in Africa from FGM);
  • Damage repair (in foundation centres so that victims regain health and quality of life).

The whole world should take on this very serious misogynistic violence as a common problem, adopting strategies to combat and curb the phenomenon, ensuring that an increasing number of nations make the practice illegal prosecuting those who promote and implement itThis happened recently in Sudan. Medical and health personnel must be trained to cope with genital mutilation, learn to treat victims with dignity and respect, and allow them access to reconstructive surgery. The right to asylum should also be granted to women fleeing from realities where the practice is still promoted, permitted or tolerated.

Female genital mutilation cannot be tolerated as 'culture'. It is just torture.

Here the European campaign website against FGM.

Here is an important article on the subject sent to us by anthropologist Sandra Busatta, Performing the Eradication of Infibulation

Yara Lochi

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