Many young girls, who cannot even be called women yet, have little or no choice when it comes to their bodies. Freedom is denied and decisions are made that affect them for life, but we can help them
Female genital mutilation has frequented the papers this year especially in the wake of the death of a 13-year-old Egyptian girl. The belief that she died whilst having the procedure has brought FGM to the forefront of problems in the Western world. The word ‘finally’ doesn’t cover this supposed revelation though. So many girls have gone through the life-threatening procedure in the name of chastity, that the ‘G’ should now stand for grievous. The fact that this particular girl died from an allergic reaction doesn’t help the case; it is a landmark case that needs so much more to make a lasting change.
An Egyptian woman reportedly said that FGM had been modernised by the use of doctors rather than barbers to perform the procedure. This outrageous claim is shocking and only increases the absurdity of the spectacle, suggesting that damaging a child’s body in the hope that even if she dies she will have been free from desire, isn’t a rational thought.
So many questions remain. What makes FGM so awful? Why is it worse than other rituals in Africa?
Britain has recently passed a law banning ‘cutters’ from entering the country. This seems an utterly futile law, as it will involve guessing who intends to mutilate young girls and who is on holiday. This law will only result in further racial profiling, which, let’s face it, Britain doesn’t need.
It seems that FGM has developed such a high media profile due to the fear of the emotional and physical dangers. Despite being illegal in many African countries, it continues, and not even behind closed doors. It amazes me that protecting girls from sexual desires outweighs concern for their safety. We should all question where the line should justifiably stand between tribal rituals and threatening the lives of innocent children.
Africa is a continent that is largely characterised by its poverty, its wars and its natural resource potential. The rest of the world is so busy feeling sorry for Africa or thinking of ways to take advantage of it, that it forgets to help where it’s really necessary.
FGM is vandalising the bodies of young and innocent girls, so it is heartening to read about the girls who wish to stand up to their parents against having the life-altering procedure — something that could signal the beginning of change.
FGM embodies generations of emotional and physical female oppression. Not only does FGM traumatise and hurt physically, but it takes freedom away without permission.
The women of Africa, the people of Africa are trying to move forward. It’s important to preserve a culture but not at the cost of young human lives. Modernisation isn’t doctors instead of barbers, it isn’t mutilating a child’s body with less pain involved, it’s standing up for free speech and women’s rights!
Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker