“I just knew I had to tell the world that there was torture and undercover war against women,” says Waris Dirie, a world known ex-model and a victim of female genitalia mutilation. Female genitalia mutilation (FGM) is a surgical procedure to alternate female's genitalia for nonmedical reasons. FGM is an unhealthy procedure which is an act of violation over females sex rights, for most young girls or women who go through it, they have no right to refuse it. FGM is practiced all over the world, from African tribes to the Middle East, to Asia and to Western European countries. FGM awareness is being raised from the United Nations (UN), Desert Flower Foundation, and World Health Organization (WHO).
Female genitalia mutilation is “removal of partial or total removal of external female genitalia” (WHO). There are four different types of FGM. The first one is clitoridectomy, this procedure involves “total removal or partial removal of the clitoris” (WHO). The second type is the total or partial removal of clitoris and removal of the labia minora and majora. The third type is called infibulation, during this procedure, all external genitalia is removed and the vaginal opening is either sewn together, pinned or causing the remaining tissue to fuse together. Ultimately, procedures that cause genital trauma are procedures that include: nicking, piercing, and scraping. These are considered type four of FGM since they do not fit in any of the other types 1-3.
Main reasons behind FGM mainly are psychosexual, religious, sociological and cultural and socio-economic factors. It is presumed that in order for a woman or girl to ensure her virginity and fidelity before marriage this practice is done and usually the clitoris is not removed to “increase male sexual pleasure” (UNFPA). FGM is not a religious requirement and it is neither condemned in religions, yet religious belief is still used to justify it. It is commonly associated with Islamic belief, but other religions such as Christianity, Ethiopian Jews, etc. perform it.
While for some societies, this procedure is done to girls to welcome them to womanhood and there are certain myths such as if a woman undergoes FGM her fertility will enhance and child survival, although it is completely the opposite. Then there is the socio-economic factor, FGM could be a requirement for marriage and right to inherit. This is a case in which some women are largely dependent on men, so for some women undergoing FGM could help them with their financial problems.
Awareness and laws have been spread internationally and legal measures have been taken to criminalize FGM and any education and programs that support it. In Africa, about eighteen countries have a penalty that ranges from three months to a lifetime of prison and there are also monetary fines. Even though, about 100-140 million girls have undergone FGM and 3 million are undergoing it every year there is still a prevalence in 28 African countries. Although prevalence percentage depends on in each country, take for example Senegal and Mali. In Mali there is a 92% of FGM prevalence, unlike Senegal's who’s FGM prevalence is 28%. Furthermore, there are legislation and criminalization decree in industrialized countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, New Zealand and etc, Foundations that support and raise awareness for FGM have a great impact on the victims of FGM. Waris Dirie, an ex-model, now a UN special ambassador and an activist for FGM has started building clinics for female genitalia reconstruction. Dirie herself was a young victim of FGM, she had run away from her family in Somalia to arrive in London were there she started her career. Dirie has opened a foundation called “Desert Flower Foundation” and has even had a movie that shares her story of how FGM had her ruined her mental capabilities. Waris Dirie hopes that young girls like her who have to acknowledge of the world outside their homes to know that this practice doesn’t happen to every woman and “what has happened is wrong” (The Guardian).
More than 200 million young girls have their sex rights taken away from them. The effects of Female Genitalia Mutilation are still plaguing our modern day society. FGM is practiced worldwide and all reasons that justify are seemed to be invalid from a humanitarian point of view. FGM has started to get awareness from many foundations, yet more than 3 million girls are undergoing it. The process of FGM is an outdated one, and one which does not have a place in the modern world where women have equal rights and the right to decide what they want to do with their own bodies and no other should decide that for them before it’s too late.