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Genital Mutilation, an Old Age Tradition Thriving in Africa

Pooja Pooja,Shimla, INDIA
Mar 2 2007, 9:12 am GMT

genital-mutilation_50Every year, two million girls on the African continent are subjected to female genital mutilation against their wish. Isn’t it horrifying?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
is one of the most frightful forms of violence against women. Even though much sensitization has been made on the negative effects of such practices, some Africans and even people of other parts of the world continue to carry out the practice.

Recent estimates place at 120 million the number of girls affected by female genital mutilation in 28 African countries as well as among African immigrants in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe and the United States. It is an extreme form of violence, which attacks the very core of a woman’s being and robs her of health and dignity.

Why practice FGM?

For parents, reasons for adhering to the practice range from fear for the daughter’s marriage ability and honor, to conformity and insistence by older relatives and the community.

Most often the historic reasons cited are marital fidelity, controlling the woman’s sex drive, preventing lesbianism, ensuring paternity, ‘calming’ her personality, and hygiene. It is commonly considered an important rite of passage.

Needs a re-think!

Female genital mutilation represents a blatant attempt to control women’s sexuality and subordinate their status in society. It is also a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

In Africa, nine out of 28 countries have enacted laws criminalizing female circumcision. Yet the people perform the offensive deed with sheer impunity and as a matter of fact, nothing substantial has been done in this regard.

Laws against female genital mutilation are necessary, but not sufficient to stop the practice or to enhance women’s rights. Thus, legal change must be accompanied by public education and other campaigns and must be a part of an overall framework to promote women’s rights.

Female circumcision can be stopped within a generation. The long-term solution to the issue of female circumcision is empowering women. and this would not be possible without the effort of government within the country.

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