Female Genital Mutilation
Worldwide, an estimated 130 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation. At least two million women a year are "at risk" of undergoing some form of the procedure. These numbers equal out to approximately 6,000 women at risk per day. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Female Genital Mutilation as all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons. Female circumcision is another term for the procedure as well.
Part I: History & Types of Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been an ongoing worldwide debate. Awareness as well as legislative activity have had an incredible amount of benefiting effect. However, it's been around for so long that its history is hard to determine. Although evidence of FGM can be found dating back several thousands of years where Egyptian women mummies have been found mutilated, the specific origin of FGM is obscured by time. It's practice has been cited in almost thirty African nations. In addition, the proof of FGM has been seen in the middle east and to a lesser extent, in parts of Asia. Most often, the historic reasons cited are marital fidelity, controlling a women's sex drive, and "calming" a woman's personality and hygiene. More modern justifications for this procedure are custom and tradition. Some tribes and groups maintain and preserve their cultural identity by continuing the practice. Religion is also cited but it is important to note that FGM is a cultural, not religious practice. Although practiced by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and members of other indigenous religions in Africa, none of these religions require it, but it is commonly considered an important right of passage. One last reason is social pressure. In communities in which most women are circumcised, family and friends create an environment in which the practice of circumcision becomes a requirement for social acceptance. In industrialized countries, genital mutilation occurs predominately among immigrants from countries where mutilation is practiced.
FGM can be classified into four separate groups. Type I, termed clitorectomy, involves the excision of the skin surrounding the clitoris, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris. When this procedure is performed in infants and young girls, a portion of or all of the clitoris and surrounding tissues may be removed. If only the clitoral prepuce is removed, the physical manifestation of Type I FGM may be subtle, necessitating a careful examination of the clitoris and adjacent structures for recognition. Type II is referred to as excision. It is the removal of the entire clitoris and part or all of the labia minora. Crude stitches of catgut or thorns may be used to control bleeding from the clitoral artery and raw tissue...