FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)
Harmful health practices are procedures that are injurious to health and non-beneficial. This practice violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity. Female genital mutilation sometimes called female circumcision is a common harmful cultural practice that is not medically indicated and damages the reproductive organ. It has no health benefits and can lead to not only immediate health risks, but also long-term complications to women’s physical, mental and sexual health and well-being.
It is also known as female genital cutting involving the partial or total removal of external female genitalia. External female genitalia are the structures of the female reproductive system that is external to the vagina which is also known as the vulva. External female genitalia include; Mons pubis, vestibules, labia majora, labia minora, and clitoris. Clitoris is a sensitive erectile organ similar to male penis that responds to sexual stimulation. This practice is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.
What are the types of FGM?
- Type 1 (clitoridectomy): this is the partial or total removal of clitoris.
- Type 2 (Excision): In this type, clitoris and labia minora are partially or completely removed. It may also include the removal of the labia majora. The labia are the lips that surround the vagina.
- Type 3 (infibulation): this type involves the narrowing of vaginal opening and a covering seal is created. The inner or outer labia are cut and repositioned. This practice may or may not include the removal of the clitoris. Other procedures include cauterizing, scraping, incising, pricking, or piercing the genital area, for reasons other than medical purposes.
- Type 4: this type are other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes” and includes practices including pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, and cauterizing the genital area.
Reasons for female genital mutilation
FGM is performed for various non-medical reasons such as:
- Social acceptance /Cultural values
This practice is spread across wide cultures. It is seen as social convention and it is often considered as proper way of raising a child and preparation for adulthood. It is however believed to promote modesty and feminity.
It is practiced by some religious group though it is erroneously linked. Some promote it, eliminate or contribute to the eradication of the practice.
- Prevention of promiscuity
FGM is carried out as a way to control women’s sexuality which is considered insatiable if parts of the genitalia, especially the clitoris, are not removed. It is thought to ensure virginity before marriage, prevent promiscuity and fidelity afterward, and to enhance male sexual pleasure.
Effects and Complications
The complications can be categorized into short and long term. They include;
- Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse)
- Urinary problem such as urinary retention.
- Bladder infection
- Low self esteem
- Low libido
- Genital sores and scarring
- Child birth complication.
Female genital mutilation is an harmful practice which should be completely eradicated.
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