Although people are familiar with male genital mutilation in some countries, they usually don’t believe it when they first heard of female genital mutilation (FGM). Sadly the fact is that FGM does exist in many African countries and some Muslim countries in other parts of the world. FGM is a procedure that involves the removal of female genitalia so that they can’t feel sexual urges. I first got to know about FGM when I heard about the movie The Desert Flower. The movie was based on an autobiography of a famous Somali model, Waris Dirie. Waris suffered from FGM when she was a little girl. She grew up to a famous model and actress. She also became a human rights activist and decided to speak to the world about the female genital mutilation that she had undergone as a child. No one could imagine the pain hidden under her beautiful face. After the movie Desert Flower was released, more and more people learned about the crucial circumcision.
The author of the article, Abigail Haworth, saw 248 girls being circumcised in Indonesia and she can never forget the shock she experienced. The circumcision took place in a school classroom. The operators were the girls’ mothers and other women without training. Abigail witnessed the process of a four-year-old girl being cut. Two midwives’ hands took an arm and a leg each in a claw-like grip, a third woman “leant in and steadily snipped off part of the girl’s clitoris with what looked like a pair of nail scissors“. Usually they make sure the whole thing is cleared off until they can see the bones. Another woman would wipe off the blood at the same time. The girls’ scream and cries filled out the crowded room, but the mothers were smiling and proud of what their daughters just achieved. They seemed to not remember the pain when they went through the same process when they were young. One of the mothers Abigail talked to said happily that her daughter was going to grow up to a good Muslim girl. Hdjella, a teacher and midwife who was supervising the cutting told Abigail that the form of FGM they practiced was helpful to girls. She said that they clean the genitals and cut off part of the hood, or prepuce, and the tip of the clitoris so that the girls don’t get sexually over-stimulated. More ridiculously, she said with a tinkling laugh, “My grandmother always said that circumcised women cook more delicious rice.”
I was shocked to see how those ignorant people took this huge violation to human rights as something they just do. FGM is not even a requirement in Muslim law. It’s purely an ancient cultural tradition and people should have enough awareness to stop it. Women have equal rights as men do. They should be able to have control over their own bodies. The speech of “controlling women’s sexual urges” is stupid and inhumane. Since the UN is aware of the existence of FGM, they should really do something to stop it and give the girls back their human rights. At the same time, I understand the difficulty of practice human rights among the world while culture differences exist and UN’s principle of not interfere in the domestic affairs of any county.