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The female circumcision which is a common practice in many African countries is thought to be a religious tradition ritual of purifying a woman at an early age before reaching puberty. This bizarre act is done differently for the many tribes and it involves from the simple act of cutting the clitoris, cutting the lower lips to even changing the genitals of a girl to their liking. This act because it is done by unqualified people sometimes leads to spread of HIV/AIDS due to use of unsterilized equipments. This essay will look at this traditional ritual, its social justifications to the female and how it can be done away with.
The Female Circumcision
The female circumcision is the cutting or removal of the female genitals it. Although it differs from one community to the other it involves the removal of the clitoris to sewing up of the vaginal opening. The two common types of circumcisions are infibulation and excision. Excision involves the partial or total removal of the prepuce, the clitoris and or the labia minora while infibulations involves totally removing all the external genetilia and stitching the labia majora leaving only a small opening for urination. The female genital mutilation although designed to protect women from promiscuity, has been and continues to be a threat to human reproductive rights. Thus the ritual implies that women are not meant to enjoy the sexual pleasures and should just be there for the sake of reproduction (Meyerhardt L.). A lot is left to be desired on how the ritual is carried out by use of unsterilized medical instruments, the antiseptic treatment and the anesthetic action exposing the girls not only to the pain involved but to the risk of contracting the deadly HIV/AIDS virus. All this infibulations is done in order to safeguard the girls' virginity, chastity and ensure that she is eligible to get married, protecting and preserving her future. In the African continent, more than 74 million women have undergone this ritual meant to purify them (Hollyday J. pg.39) while it is estimated that 135 million have undergone the surgery worldwide and another 2 million will undergo it each year (The ritual circumcision has a goal to "purify" a woman at a very young age before she reaches puberty).
The ritual is still carried because of the different cultures of each community. For example the people of Nigeria believe that during birth, if the baby comes into contact with the clitoris will die. Others do think that if left uncut, the clitoris will just continue growing and reach a time that it is as big as the penis. Thus the thought of all these unfounded consequences do scare some women to undergo the ritual.
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Despite all the pain and risks involved in this act, the social justifications for female circumcision are important in understanding why the act still is continued. A females' virginity preserves her chastity and ensures she's eligible for marriage, thus inflibulation does protect her future. In some African communities, female circumcision is a rite of passage done when girls are aged around 10-12 years, as a transition from to woman womanhood from a girl. In countries like Sudan, they actually hold celebrations to mark this 'special' occasion when a girl is circumcised because she is now worthy a husband while for the newly circumcised girl her legs are tied in her room and she is left moaning due to the pain but due to the fact that her mind has been corrupted, she thinks that the consequences of not getting circumcised do outweigh the pain she is going through. The uncircumcised women are considered social out cast and no matter what age they are, they are still referred to as girls and cannot speak in the community gatherings. The social pressures from the community are so intense that no woman wants to be known as unclean and thus most opt to be cut. Some great African leaders like Kenyatta said that a Kenyan man should not marry an uncircumcised woman. This implies that women had to be circumcised in order to get married (Meyerhardt L.).
The female circumcision can have some physical and psychological effects on the women. If not done properly, the physical effects of the cut includes; uncontrolled bleeding, can damage the urethra and bladder, systematic infection, infertility, urinary infection and due to the bleeding it can result to death. Psychological effects are shown when these women show symptoms of post traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and fear of engaging in sexual intercourse (Boskey E.)
As the world is becoming a 'global village', questions have been raised in order to help eradicate this ritual, thus it is no longer an African or a Middle East problem but a worldwide problem. This is because also the Western nations have people on their own countries practicing the ritual; refugees and immigrants, about 168,000 of circumcised women are in the US, 30,000 in Italy and 3,000-4,000 cases are reported yearly in the UK. There is a growing consensus that the cut is a violation of the human rights; hence this cultural rite is just wrong. The US outlawed the rite in 1997 and the European nations have prosecuted those performing the cut (Boskey E.). African countries like Sudan and Egypt where the ritual got wild celebrations sometimes back have now made female genital mutilation illegal. Although this does not mean that it is the end of the female circumcision, the cut still continues due to peer pressure and in some remote parts of the continent. Concrete steps have to be taken not only by the respective governments but also by NGOs, doctors and activists in order to abolish. The women need to be taught the importance of their bodies that it is unique and special and should reject the cut outright. Be taught that they are not unclean nor dirty and not fit for marriage if they are not cut (Meyerhardt L).
The female circumcision has been and is still practiced in several African countries in order to purify the girl child before marriage. The cut comes with a lot of pain and causes the girl child psychological and physical effects and can lead to death due to excessive bleeding. The cut is celebrated as an ignition to womanhood and in some communities men are advised not to marry uncircumcised women. These uncircumcised women feel dejected, unclean and unfit in the community thus are left with no option but to pass the ritual. The UN has identified female circumcision as a violation of human rights and has banned the act. Women are now taught to reject the cut as their bodies are important and special.