Myths On Female Genital Mutilation

November 9, 2021

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one of the worst forms of violence against women. Young girls and women in the regions that practice this barbaric custom have been brainwashed to believe they have to undergo the practice in order to be ‘whole.’ As much as the message of anti FGM is preached by those who know and understand the harmful effects of this practice, sadly, it is still widely practiced the world over. The story and message of FGM has to be told over and over again; we cannot and should never tire of telling it.

As much as FGM is engrained in the communities that practice it, custom and tradition do not make it right. As we teach the girls in the various schools about the harms of FGM, what becomes clear is the communities that allow the practice to carry on, do so because it has simply, become a way of life. Girls undergo female genital cutting as a result of deep-rooted tradition among practicing communities. The practice is a social norm that is held in place by an entire community, men and women alike. FGM is often a tradition that is passed down through generations, meaning that parents often unquestioningly have their daughters cut because the community expects it. The practice of cutting girls is frequently based on a traditional belief in the need to control a girl’s sexuality and ensure her virginity until marriage, or to prepare her for marriage. A girl who remains uncut will often be considered unsuitable for marriage. There are also often misconceptions that an uncut girl will be promiscuous, unclean, bad luck, or less fertile.

In some communities, there are also misconceptions that the practice is a religious obligation. The practice of cutting female genitalia is not, however, an obligation of any religion, not Islam, Christianity or Judaism. Though FGM is not inherently a religious requirement, it is often supported, nonetheless, by religious leaders such as priests or Imams. It is, therefore, very important for these leaders to inspire and lead change in the fight against FGM as they hold a powerful role in the society.

We invited a nurse to talk to the Choice Club girls on the dangers of undergoing the cut. A nurse is respected in the community and because she speaks from a point of knowledge, the girls respect her message. From the experiences the nurse has had attending to expectant mothers, she knows firsthand the challenges that women who have been cut face when they go to deliver their babies. The girls keenly listened to the message as the nurse explained the various types of FGM, and the consequences of the cut. The look of horror on the girls’ faces made it clear that the message hit home. 

Types of FGM: 

Clitoridectomy is the partial or complete removal of the clitoris. 

Excision is any cutting and removal of the clitoris and labia. 

Infibulation is the creation of a seal to narrow the vaginal opening by cutting and stitching the labia — infibulation may or may not include a clitoridectomy

All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes — this includes pricking, scraping, and/or cauterizing.

Girls at AIC NGONG school listen to a nurse as she
teaches about the dangers of undergoing the ‘cut.’

A traditional female circumciser holding a bloody blade used to perform genital mutilation.

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