he World Health Organization defines Female Genitalia Mutilation (FGM) as any procedure that involves removing part or all of a female’s genitals. It is not just one procedure; many types of FGM all cause severe physical and psychological health issues, such as infections, bleeding, infertility, complication during childbirth, complications during urination, etc.
Thousands of girls worldwide are affected by this harmful practice daily and face life-altering consequences – often without realizing it. Please read on if you would like more information about how FGM can affect your daily life.
What is Female Genital Mutilation?
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an ancient practice condemned as a human rights violation by international institutions since the mid-20th century. It’s often referred to as female genital cutting (FGC) or female circumcision, and practitioners may refer to it as female genital integrity.
FGM is a brutal, painful, and sometimes fatal practice that has no place in modern society. It’s harmful to the health and well-being of women and girls in more ways than one can count. FGM also violates girls’ rights to be free from violence and abuse by men. The World Health Organization estimates that between 30% and 100% of women living in 29 countries are subject to FGM. In some countries, it’s even more common than it once was. Now, 20% of women in Somalia have suffered from the practice.
Health Problems Caused By FGM:
FGM is dangerous. This procedure can cause health problems, including:
• Blood loss
• Difficulty urinating
• complications during childbirth
• Increasing the risk of newborn deaths.
• inability to control their urination
• cysts and abscesses
• persistent infections.
These physical impacts can affect a girl’s psychological health in many ways. First, due to the pain experienced during the procedure—and especially if the clitoris is not entirely removed—girls may experience increased sexual sensitivity as they grow older. This can cause them to be more likely than their peers, who have not been circumcised, to experience sexual pleasure from things like kissing or dancing.
How does it affect a Girl’s Life Psychologically?
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an act that deeply impacts a girl’s psyche. FGM can lead to various mental health issues, including:
These mental health issues can affect the girl and her family, her community, and society.
FGM has been linked to PTSD due to the severe trauma experienced by girls when they undergo FGM. This trauma can cause the girl to live in fear of being subjected to the procedure again. In addition, it can stunt her emotional development—for example, she may never feel comfortable being naked in front of others or even alone with herself.
FGM has been linked to anxiety because anxiety is an emotional response to fear and danger. As stated above, fear and danger are intimately associated with FGM. A girl who has undergone FGM may start experiencing anxiety episodes before going through other life experiences, such as sex or childbirth if those experiences are associated with her genitalia or reproductive system.
FGM has been linked to depression because girls who have undergone FGM often feel disconnected from their bodies and sexuality. As a result, they may experience feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness that may lead them into a spiral of depression.
Types of Female Genital Mutilation:
Not every type of female genital mutilation is so extreme that women are left without genitals. To understand FGM and how it can be stopped, it’s essential to understand all the different types of FGM that occur, some of which are not so severe, but still leave women with long-term complications.
Female genital mutilation is divided into four categories by the World Health Organization: Types I, II, III, and IV.
Type I: This is the partial or whole removal of the clitoris, also known as clitoridectomy.
Type II: Also known as excision, this removes the clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina). Even part of the labia major (larger outer lips) is removed in some cases.
Type III: Also known as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening via cutting and repositioning parts of external genitalia. The labia minora are cut away and repositioned to cover both inner and outer labia. A small hole is left open for urine and menstrual blood to escape through. Infibulation can cause difficulty in urination and menstruation, pain during sexual intercourse, and childbirth complications.
Type IV: This type includes pricking, piercing, or incising of the clitoris or labia; stretching of the clitoris or labia; cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissues; scraping (angry cuts) or cutting (gishiri cuts) of the vagina or surrounding tissues; introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to cause bleeding.
How Can Female Genital Mutilation be Stopped?
There are many reasons why FGM should be stopped, such as the fact that it is painful and causes psychological problems later in life.
One way to stop FGM is to educate people about its harmful effects on women. Educating people about what FGM entails can help them reconsider their participation in the tradition. They may not realize how deeply the procedure will affect their daughters’ bodies and mental health. If they understood more about what it would mean for their family, they might be more likely to refuse to participate in it.
Another way to stop FGM is to raise awareness among communities where FGM is practiced regularly, to understand that this practice does not benefit them in any way and only harms their womenfolk.
From the above discussion, it is clear that in many parts of the world where Female Genital Mutilation is rampant, like in Africa and Southeast Asia, it has several debilitating effects on girls/women. FGM has negative health implications for women during their reproductive years and beyond. When such a dreadful phenomenon affects even one woman, it directly affects all women around her, be they her sisters, daughters, or friends.