Female genital mutilation
All practices that entail the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia is known as female genital mutilation.
Other harm to the female genital organs for non-medical purposes are also referred to as female genital mutilation (FGM).
For girls and women, the practice has no positive health effects and can result in extreme bleeding, urination issues, cysts, infections, difficult deliveries, and a higher risk of stillbirth.
Internationally, female genital mutilation is acknowledged as an affront to women’s and girls’ human rights.
It is a severe kind of abuse against girls and women and indicates systemic gender inequality.
It violates children’s rights and is almost always performed on minors by traditional healers.
The technique also infringes upon a person’s rights to life.
In cases when it results in death, as well as their rights to health, safety, and physical integrity.
And also their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
The assumption that female genital mutilation is safer when it is medicalized has led to increased engagement of healthcare professionals in the operation in a number of contexts, according to the research.
WHO has created a global strategy and targeted resources to assist healthcare in their opposition to medicalization. WHO strongly advises healthcare professionals not to perform FGM.
Types of Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation can be divided into four main categories:
- Type 1: In this procedure, the prepuce/clitoral hood and/or clitoral glans, which are sensitive parts of the female genitalia, are removed entirely or partially (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoral glans).
- Type 2: In this procedure, the clitoral glans and labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva) are partially or completely removed, along with or without the labia majora (i.e. the outer skin of the vulva).
- Type 3: The narrowing of the vaginal aperture caused by the formation of a covering seal is sometimes referred to as infibulation.
The clitoral prepuce/clitoral hood and glans may or may not be removed, and the labia minora or labia majora are sliced and repositioned, sometimes through sewing, to create the seal.
- Type 4: This category covers any other damaging practices performed on the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, and cauterizing the genital region.
Female genital mutilation has no benefits
Female genital mutilation affects kids and women in several ways and offers no health advantages.
It interferes with the natural processes of girls’ and women’s bodies by eliminating and harming healthy, normal female vaginal tissue.
Even though all kinds of FGM raise the risk of health issues, the danger is higher with more extreme forms of FGM..
Some complications of female genital mutilation are:
- Severe pain
- Excessive bleeding (hemorrhage)
- Genital tissue swelling
- Infections e.g., tetanus
- Urinary problems
- Wound healing problems
- Injury to surrounding genital tissue
Long-term issues may include:
- Urinary issues (infections of the urinary tract, uncomfortable urination);
- Difficulties with the vaginal area, including discharge, irritation, bacterial vaginosis, and other infections;
- Issues with menstruation (such as uncomfortable periods and trouble leaking blood);
- Both keloid and scar tissue
- Sexual issues (such as discomfort during sex, a decline in satisfaction, etc.).
Increased chance of newborn mortality and birth difficulties (difficult delivery, severe bleeding, caesarean section, need for baby to be revived, etc.).
Later procedures may be required, such as the practice of cutting open the sealed vagina.
This is to permit sex and childbirth after sealing or limiting the vaginal opening (type 3).
Sometimes, notably after childbirth, vaginal tissue requires several stitches.
This necessitates repeated opening and closing techniques on the woman.
Additional dangers, both short-term and long-term; and Psychological issues (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, etc.).
Female genital mutilation primarily affects young girls between the ages of infant and puberty, while it does infrequently affect adult women.
More than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation, with more than 3 million girls estimated to be at risk of female genital mutilation each year.
According to data from 30 countries where the practice is prevalent in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa as well as some countries in the Middle East and Asia.
Therefore, female genital mutilation is a global issue.
Reasons why female genital mutilation is practiced
The causes of female genital mutilation vary from one place to another and across time.
They involve a variety of sociocultural elements found in families and communities.
Where female genital mutilation is a social convention (social norm), the social pressure to comply to what others do and have been doing, as well as the urge to be accepted socially and the fear of being rejected by the community, are powerful drivers to keep the practice going.
Female genital mutilation is frequently seen as an important aspect of a girl’s upbringing and a technique to get her ready for adulthood and marriage.
To encourage premarital virginity and marital fidelity, this may involve regulating her sexuality.
Although no religious texts forbid the behavior, some people think that religion supports it.
Different religious leaders have different stances on female genital mutilation, some of which have led to its cessation.
The medicalization of female genital mutilation
Fmale genital mutilation is carried out by healthcare professionals for a variety of reasons.
These consist of:
- The conviction that medicalized FGM carries a lower risk of consequences than non-medicalized FGM;
- The idea that legalizing FGM might be a first step toward its outright prohibition;
- FGM is performed by healthcare professionals who are also FGM practitioners and are therefore subject to the same societal norms;
- A financial motive could exist to carry out the practice.
Now with WHO’s assistance and instruction, a lot of medical professionals are starting to promote the cessation of FGM in the clinical context as well as with their families and communities.
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