Female Circumcision’s Unknown Appearance in America

Submitted On October 28, 2007

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Pain. Hemorrhage. Death. By methods of cutting and ripping with knives, thorns, glass shards. A surgery that has affected over 100 million women. And the name? Female circumcision, genital mutilation, or simply torture.

Each year, approximately 2 million women and girls across the world experience this surgery that ranges from a small incision on the clitoris to complete removal of all external genitalia. For many, there is nothing that they can do to stop it.

Female genital mutilation or circumcision is the cutting, pricking, or complete removal of external female genitalia. The reasons for this are to promote chastity, to enhance male sexual pleasure and, in some places, because the female genitalia are considered unclean and ugly. This problem is well-known to exist in about 28 African countries and, to a lesser extent, in areas of Asia.

Less known is the appearance of this phenomenon across the Western world. Cases have begun to appear in places such as France, Canada, the United Kingdoms and the United States in recent years, as immigrants relocate outside of their homelands into new territory. In France, an immigrant family had their daughter undergo this surgery. When it was discovered, both the family and the doctor, another immigrant, were charged with child abuse. There have been many stories of refugees seeking asylum for themselves or their daughters in order to avoid this surgery. Americans were horrified when they heard of the refugee that was imprisoned in Brooklyn, as approval for status pended. Names have been suppressed for privacy.

As immigration becomes increasingly widespread, policies must be set in place to deal with other cultures. Many argue that female genital mutilation is the same as male circumcision and is a cultural heritage, a right. As immigrants seek asylum in countries that do not participate in female genital mutilation, countries must set up a culture that prohibits the degradation and humiliation that is a part of this practice.

While some people claim that it is part of their religion, particularly in countries where Islam is the predominant religion, ironically, the Koran makes no mention of the necessity of this procedure. Many religious leaders of Islam readily claim no connection to this surgery.

Organizations such as WHO and UNICEF believe that the only way for this atrocity to cease is to spread awareness. They promote many seminars and educational programs that spread the details of this custom.

As knowledge about this practice spreads, explanations for its existence begin to appear, such as the poverty and the lack of power that women have in these particular locales. As nations band together to take a stand against the inequalities and injustices of female genital mutilation, they also must examine the realities that have forced this practice on these societies.

I recently earned my BA in English and am currently trying to “keep in practice”. Much of my work will be available shortly at []

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