Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision, is a destructive and invasive procedure involving the removal or alteration of female genital. The procedure is carried out at a variety of ages, ranging from shortly after birth to some time during the first pregnancy, but most commonly occurs between the ages of four and eight. There are three main types of FGC that are practiced: Type I (Sunna circumcision), Type II (Excision), and Type III (Infibulation). These three operation range in intensity, from the "mildness" of Type I, to the extreme Type III.
The practice occurs in Africa, the Middle East, parts of Asia, and in immigrant communities in Europe and North America. An estimated 135 million of the world's girls and women have undergone genital mutilation, and two million girls a year are at risk - approximately 6,000 per day - about one every 15 seconds. (1) Although Female Genital Mutilation predates Islam and is not practiced by the majority of Muslims, it has acquired this religious dimension. However, FGM is a cross-cultural and cross-religious ritual. In Africa and the Middle East it is performed by Muslims, Coptic Christians, members of various indigenous groups, Protestants, and Catholics; to name a few.
The type of mutilation practiced, the age at which it is carried out, and the way its done varies according to a variety of factors, including the woman or girl's ethnic group, what country they are living in, whether in a rural or urban area and their socio-economic background. The first and "mildest" type of FGM is called "sunna circumcision" or Type I. The term "Sunna" refers to tradition as taught by the prophet Muhammad. This specific procedure involves the removal of the tip of the clitoris and/or its covering (prepuce). The second type of FGM, Type II also known as clitoridectomy, involves the partial or entire removal of the clitoris, as well as the scraping off of the labia majora and labia minora. This procedure is often used by countries that are prohibited from using the more extreme procedures. Clitoridectomy was invented by Sudanese midwives as a compromise when British legislation forbade the more extreme operations in 1946. (2)
Infibulation (a.k.a. Pharaonic circumcision) is the third and most dramatic procedure of FGM's; it has been banned in some countries but still exists in others. This most extreme form consists of the removal of the clitoris, the adjacent labia minora, labia majora, and the urethral and vaginal openings are cut away. The vagina is then stitched or held together with thorns, leaving a small opening for menstruation and urination. To engage in intercourse the woman is then cut open by her husband on their wedding night. The woman's vagina is often restitched if her husband leaves on a long trip to secure fidelity. Female Genital Mutilations are mostly done without anesthesia and in unsanitary conditions where instruments such as...