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The Issue Of Female Circumcision From A Medical Anthropology Perspective

1106 words - 5 pages

It is estimated that about 100 million women are circumcised (Toubia 1994,712). Female Circumcision or Female Genital Cutting or Female Genital Mutilation as it is also known is a very important issue that deserves much attention and understanding. Female Circumcision is closely related to women’s sexuality and reproductive role, which is why it has strong cultural significance to those that have the procedure done (Toubia 1994,712). The practice is done in a variety of cultural and ethnic groups (Toubia 1994,712). In order for change to occur, the practice must be understood from the culture it happens in. Once the problem is understood from that perspective, then the most appropriate and effective solutions can be suggested.
The age at which a circumcision is preformed on a female varies. Female Circumcisions are normally preformed on girls between the ages of 4 and 10 years of age (Toubia 1994, 712). It is also not uncommon to find female circumcisions preformed on other types of girls and women. This procedure can also be performed on babies, females that are about to be married or after a female has given birth for the first time (Toubia 1994, 712).
There are a variety of ways in which the procedure can be performed. One way is to have a clitoridectomy, which is defined as partial or total removal of the clitoris (Shell Duncan 2001, 1015) . Another way the procedure can be done is by removing completely or partially the clitoris along with the inner labia (Shell Duncan 2001, 1015). The last way the procedure can happen is when all outside genital parts are removed only to leave a small opening for fluids such as urine and menstrual blood to pass through (Shell Duncan 2001, 1015). That type is called an infibulation (Shell Duncan 2001, 1015) .
Female Circumcisions commonly occur in many countries on the continent of Africa (Toubia 1994, 712). Different variations to the different type of female circumcisions occur based on geographical regions. Countries in Africa are not the only ones performing these types of procedures. In Indonesia and Malaysia, a symbolic circumcision is performed on females. This procedure includes making a small cut on the clitoris with an instrument sharp enough to cause only bleeding (Shell Duncan 2001, 1015).
Female circumcisions have strong cultural background meanings. A medical anthropologist would avoid approaching this issue with an ethnocentric mindset. It is helpful for the issue to be thought about from a cultural relativist perspective in order to understand the issue from the culture that it is related to (Gordon 1991,4). Also, one should consider how this issue of female circumcision relates to health and healing, which would be one focus of a medical anthropologist. Female circumcision may be seen as an issue to people in the western world, but not those in the non-western world (Gordon 1991,4). A medical anthropologist would think about how female circumcision could be an important ritual for...

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