I used to believe women in America had a tough life. I thought we had to work extra hard so men wouldn’t bring us down by thinking we couldn’t get achieve the same accomplishments as them.
I was a black woman with little knowledge about women in other countries. In 2012, I soon found out the truth. To the women in America, more specifically black women, we have it easy.
I have three words of proof: female genital mutilation. I was hurt to learn this ritual practice is still happening.
When I explain to people what FGM is, they’re disgusted. It’s something we need to know more about. We have to realize there are countries that have traditions so strong they become inhumane.
FGM is a cutting ceremony women go through so they can become “pure.” I love the definition from the World Health Organization: It is a range of practices involving the complete or partial removal or alteration of the external genital for nonmedical reasons. The female’s clitoris is amputated with a razor or sharp knife. In addition, the labia minora are removed. After the cutting, the wound heals, and it’s then stitched back together.
I see no health benefit from this. However, the people in favor see many advantages. I first learned about FGM when I watched the movie Desert Flower. In the movie, Waris Dirie said the people in Somalia believed a daughter who is not circumcised is not clean because what exists between her legs is not clean. In fact, she’s considered in the same category as a whore.
FGM happens in North, Eastern and Western Africa, the Middle East and among immigrants in Europe. The people in favor of this believe the clitoris is evil. If it comes near a male’s penis, then he will become sick and powerless. The book “Circumcision: A history of the World’s Most Controversial Surgery” by David Gollaher said it’s believed if a baby’s head comes in contact with the clitoris during childbirth, then the child is born with excess cranial fluid and the mother’s breast milk is considered poisonous.
The part that bothers me is girls as young as 2 years old go through this ritual. Once they are cut, they are seen as a woman, regardless of age. They will be raised to a status higher in their community. They will never be aroused to have sex. They will never feel the pleasure of it. Their husbands will supposedly know the sexual act is of love and not lust.
Women across the world are becoming affected from FGM. They are dying. In most situations, an anesthetic isn’t used. Pain and health issues begin to occur. Severe pain, shock, hemorrhaging, tetanus, urine infection and injury to adjacent tissue are some of the health complications from this ritual. Many girls have been infected with HIV because one instrument is used in numerous operations.
Because the wound is sewn tightly after the cutting, the only way she can engage in sexual intercourse is if someone cuts it open. Her husband opens the wound on the wedding night, forcing himself into her, not knowing the pain she feels. Women in labor can’t deliver because they’re completely closed in. Women have gone for days without urinating because they are closed too tightly. Women have been incapacitated by cramps and have been on their menstrual period for ten days, which is too long.
Many women have physiological issues. They can’t cry or complain because it’s part of their culture. Instead, their issues worsen because they have to deal with fear from within silence.
I believe a woman’s virginity should be taken seriously. Women should wait until they are married to have sex. However, it’s unnecessary to require that the clitoridectomy be performed as a sanction. It’s sad for a woman to believe the only way she has proof of her virginity and virtue is for her to become circumcised and mutilated.
And what can a college student do about this? The only thing I can think of is to stop complaining about how women are treated here. We have come a long way for women’s rights in America. But what about the 140 million girls who have only felt pain?