What is Wrong with Female Genital Mutilation? - 2

Imagine a teenage girl playing games with her friends, only to be cornered by some old men/women, dragged down and subjected to some severe cuttings in her private part. And while she is groaning in pains and bleeding, the perpetrators and family members begin to wine and dine.

A woman once narrated her ordeal. “I was seven months pregnant when my mother insisted I be circumcised. I refused, but she and other older women persuaded me, saying it to widen my vagina orifice and make delivery easier. They also said that if the head of a baby touches the clitoris, he will die. I obliged and by the time they were through, I felt really horrible. In fact, I lay in a pool of blood for some time. I later realised that I should have conserved enough blood for childbirth. How sad that when it was time for me to deliver, I ended up in hospital where I had to be transfused with blood before I could recover strength. I escaped death narrowly.”

The question is, if male circumcision is meant to pave way for maximum pleasure, why should a woman’s sexual desire be suppressed or tamed? Why should she be subjected to so much horror, only for a small opening to be left in order to increase the man’s sexual pleasure? Is sex meant for the men to enjoy alone?

In the words of Mrs. Rita Oseghae: “The same men that agitate for female circumcision to attenuate their pleasure also complain that the women are frigid and sexually inactive,” This according to Bose Ironsi, “is tantamount to double standard.”

 Another factor is that female circumcision, rather than prevent promiscuity in ladies, actually aggravates it. The reason is obvious, those ladies whose clitoris have been yanked off, whether partly or totally, have serious problem enjoying sexual intercourse. In the end, they keep moving from one sexual partner to another in search of the elusive pleasure. Any wonder then that it is in those areas where girls are mostly circumcised to prevent promiscuity that we have increased number of ladies reputed for prostitution, both at national and international levels.

Much more than this, there are several physically dreadful and health risk complications arising from female genital mutilation. This depends on the gravity of the mutilation, hygienic conditions, skill and eyesight of the operator and the struggles of the girl/lady involved during operation.

Talking about complications, Mrs. Ironsi identified effects such as excruciating pain, haemorrhage from rupture of the blood vessels in the clitoris, post-operation shock, and death as some of the terrible effects of Female Genital Mutilation.

“The bad eyesight of the operator or the resistance of the girl/lady may cause damage to other organs: the urethra, anal sphincter and the vagina walls. Acute urine retention due to pain and fear of passing urine on the raw wound is common,” she added.

“In addition, the instruments used are not sterilized; hence the child can have tetanus, HIV and hepatitis B, especially when genital mutilation is carried out simultaneously on groups of girls. Infibulations damages the sexual organs and the reopening of the vulva after marriage. Moreover, those who perform these mutilations are protected by the community, hence when complications or death arise, it is attributed to witchcraft and ‘juju’, not the excision or the fact that the instruments were not steriled”, lamented Ironsi

Ironsi identified the most common long term complication as lack of sensation during sexual intercourse as a result of scarification or the removal of the clitoris and labia minora. “The vagina walls narrow further when the scar tissue formed from the cuts of the walls shrink. This leads to dysmenorrthe (painful menstruation) as the menstrual blood cannot flow freely. It also causes painful sexual intercourse,” she said.

“√Źn addition to the excision that renders the whole genital area permanently and unbearably insensitive to touch, there is the development of a tumour composed of nerve tissues. During childbirth, the scars in the clitoral zone can open and where scarring is extensive, Vesico vagina fistula (VVF) can develop as a result of obstructed labour. Death is even possible as in some cultures; excision is carried out at the seventh month of pregnancy.”

Infibulation may cause  bladder inflammation as some girls are unable to fully empty their bladder through the small opening left, the semi-sealed condition of the vagina may pave way for chronic infections, dermatoid cists, keloid scars, which can obstruct walking.

With so many scary and heinous side effects on ground, one cannot but be worried that even in this 21st Century; some still believe that tradition must be upheld. “Are cultures not dynamic? Can’t they be changed? Are they beyond scientific modifications? Should women continue to be thus oppressed?” These and many more are the traumatic questions bugging the minds of women’s rights agencies. It is doubtful how much success they will achieve with their numerous campaigns and enlightenment programmes.

Not much may be recorded though, until perhaps there are national and international laws condemning female genital mutilation. Not much may be achieved until women renew their minds and come off some of these repressive traditional practices. Not much may be done until men become selfless and begin to treat their female counterparts as partners in progress, not slaves and sex zombies.


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