This week I came across this topic when I watched a documentary on the German television station ZDF. This documentary was about Female Genital Cutting in the world but especially in African countries.
On one hand I was always interested in this topic but on the other hand I was also really afraid of what it would bring and do to me. Because as a women no matter what age having to deal with this issue is not really easy.
I read the book “Desert Flower” by Waris Dirie who got cut when she was just five years old. After the book was released a movie which shares the same name as the book title was published in 2008.
So what is Female Genital Cutting? A synonym to this name is also Female Genital Mutilation, in short FGM. It involves the partial but unfortunately mostly the total removal of the genital organs where there is no medical intention behind it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) FGM is being practiced in 28 countries in the Middle East and Africa. The countries who are being considered to proceed this procedure are countries with a high degree of Islamic orientation, for example Somalia, Ethiopia and Mali. More further the WHO had estimated as of 2013 140 million female around our globe had to experience it. And out of this about 101 million just in Africa.
Nahid Toubia a Sudanese journalist from The New England Journal of Medicine” wrote in her article that FGM is applied on females at the age of 4 or during the beginning of their puberty. But she also declared that FGM is conducted on infants and also adults.
So many people who never dealt with this topic might ask themselves why people are doing this.
What is the reason for FGM?
In his paper “Ending Footbinding and Infibulations: A Convention Account” Gerry Mackie explains that the reasons for this are not really anchored in the Islamic religion, but more in the view of some societies were FGM is being practices. Women who have been cut are considered to be more aesthetic, honorable and decently. But more important for the people who believe in this procedure, FGM is a kind of cultural identity. With this outsiders take the control over the women’s sexuality especially by reducing their sexual desire and promoting chastity and fidelity among the people.
Many independent and dependent organizations such as the WHO, the United Nation, unicef, the Economic Commission for Africa and many more have been trying to stop FGM. But as you can see it is still a big problem in this world. But here I ask myself is it really a problem of the world, or is this a problem for the Western world?
Accept cultural differences?
FGM does not take place in Western countries. But I feel like that this is an bigger issue for Western countries than it is for Non-Western countries. We have seen that no matter how awful these procedures sound like, it is still supported by the people who do it. The legal restrictions in the countries were FGM is being proceeded have abolished it from their law, but it should be considered that most African countries still have many nations or ethnicities that do not live by the rules of the countries law.
I think that the effort many organizations are doing is important for us as humans to get an better understanding of what is going on. I think that it would be fair to give the people affected the opportunity to choose for theirselves if they want to be cut.
But is this our duty to play the world police?