Saturday, 6 February 2016

Female Genital Mutilation

February 6, is the International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Female Genital Mutilation is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. This procedure differs according to the ethnic group and is most prevalent between ages 0-14 years. however, female genital mutilation is also done to women up to age 49.  This procedure is typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, with or without anesthesia. At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, with half of them living in Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia. The latest figures, provided by UNICEF, show nearly 70 million more girls than previously thought have been subjected to ritual cutting. Female Genital Mutilation is a creation by males to keep women subjugated and powerless. Men have no rights to tell women what they should do to their bodies. While I understand that female genital mutilation is steeped in cultural norms and practices grounded in patriarchy  there are sometimes serious health issues associated with female genital mutilation. There are social, physiological and physical consequences for girls and women who are often forced to have this procedure. The risk to girls who have had this procedure is severe and many face long terms health problems such as infections, infertility, complications in child birth, urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections); scar tissue and keloid.  Disturbingly, only 18 per cent of female genital mutilations are conducted by health workers. Female Genital Mutilation has no health benefits and violates the human rights of girls.  Other countries practicing female genital mutilation include Nigeria, Somalia, Senegal, Sudan, Chad, Yemen, Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Djbouti and Mauritania. Female Genital Mutilation is also practiced among migrants groups in developed countries.  It is rather disappointing that issues surrounding gender and gender- based violence are not being discussed on the campaign trail  as Jamaicans go to the polls on February 25 to elect a new government. We need to engage the men and women in those societies where this practice still exists. The time to empower our women and girls is now. #FGM