Over 100 million women and children have been affected by this tragic tradition, and 3 million girls usually from the ages of 4 to 10 are at risk every year. Female Genital Mutilation or FGM, is practiced in over 30 countries every year, typically during the months of December to February also known as “cutting season”.
Why is this happening? FGM is deeply rooted in many cultures located in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. They believe that this procedure will increase a girls chances of marriage, promote purity, and enhance fertility. There is no scientific reasoning to any of those outcomes of the practice. Instead, a woman that goes through FGM is even more susceptible to health risks like urinary and pelvic infections, and HIV. In addition many girls bleed to death during the procedure.
The procedure is typically done by elderly women within the community. Girls are given no anaesthetic or drugs, leading to an excruciatingly painful experience. Even more, the same knife can be used on a whole community, passing around diseases as it goes. Many girls have Post Traumatic Stress disorder or PTSD because of the ordeal. Without any access to mental care, many survivors have fallen into deep and extreme depression.
WHO, the Word Health Organization has conducted a survey in 10 different countries located in West Africa. The goal was to identify high risk subpopulations. When stopping from household to household they asked each woman questions, for example:
“Have you yourself ever been circumcised?” (yes/no)
“Have any of your daughters been circumcised? If yes, how many?”
“Do you think this practice should be continued?” (yes/depends/no).
After the study was over, it showed that in Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mauritania and Sierra Leone, more than 70% of women had been circumcised. Comparatively, In Ghana, Niger and Togo less than 6% of woman had been circumcised. Moreover, in 4 of the countries surveyed, one third of women had had their children circumcised. The most shocking and concerning findings were that in six countries more than 20% believed that FGM practices should continue.
Ultimately, this survey shows that this problem will continue because of the lack of education on this topic not only in places like Africa, Asia and the Middle East but in the westernized world. The topic of FGM is not something people like to face, as they feel it is an intrusion of one's values, culture and religious beliefs, and a sticky conversational point. Even though eighteen countries have enacted criminal laws against FGM, it's still happening. Hillary Clinton once said, “Human Rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights”. FGM is a violation on human rights, women's rights, and one’s integrity.
Zero Decorum, has teamed up with Director Giselle Portenier, and her upcoming film “In The Name Of Your Daughter” to Spread awareness on this issue.