One of the main controversial topics is whether female genital mutilation is considered a cultural practice or, would it be considered one of the human rights violations. Female genital mutilation is mostly dominant and popular in Africa, especially in Sub- Saharan Africa. The population of women who are circumcised in Africa lies between eighty million to two hundred million. The process of circumcision causes the removal of the female external genitalia, which leads to suffer and pain.
The first perspective about female genital mutilation is that they believe and see it as a cultural practice. One of the sides believe that it’s their duty to circumcise their daughters since it’s their traditions, and they believe that in their religion it has ordered them to do so. They as well believe that when the girl is circumcised she will grow faster, the girl will get marriage proposal, and she will have no sexual desire after her husband. In fact some of the husbands families demands for their son’s wife to be circumcised or else she would not marry their son. Traditions may differ in different cultures so it may be hard to abandon what one sees as a radical practice in which the other may see as a duty. The other perspective of this topic is that the other side believes that female genital mutilation is one of the human rights violations. The other side sees that there should be law that bans the practice for several reasons. One of the main reasons is the effect of the circumcision; it causes pain, complications in reproduction, and a great amount of bleeding that leads to death.
In Egypt 91% of the women are affected by the process of the circumcision, and for the first time a doctor stand trial for his practice of the circumcision. The doctor was responsible for the death of a 13 year old called Sohair Al- Bata’a. Such action may ring a bell that there might be charges on the people who proceed in the circumcision. In the future or even in the coming days FGM might be prohibited even if people consider them part of their traditions. It is ironic how people might consider them a part of their decision when the Islamic authority Al- Azhar has already issued several fatwas stating that the circumcision is un-Islamic.
The consequences or the effects of the process impact my own perspective about FGM. If the practice didn’t have any impacts on the people who follow such process, then my opinion would be totally different. I would think of it as a tradition and no one has the right to intervene and ban them from following their own customs. However, when it affects young innocent girls, this is when I would consider it one of the human rights violations. Sohair Al- Bata’a is only one of many young women who died from FGM. According to the WHO there is more than 125 million girls and women in 29 countries undergone the circumcision. As the chart below shows various reasons why people support or undergo the process. Apparently, many uneducated people form their own decisions with out knowing or even ignoring the consequences that might happen.
By Nada Sorour
“Female Genital Cutting Fact Sheet.” Womenshealth.gov. Ed. Caroline Bacquet, Sandra Jordan, and Francesca Moneti. (15 Dec. 2009). 19 October 2013 <http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/female-genital-cutting.cfm>.
Shweder, Richard A. “What About Female Genital Mutilation? And Why Understanding Culture Matters in the First Place” Daedalus Volume 129 16 June: 209- 216
“Female Genital Mutilation.” WHO. © WHO 2014. 3 April 2014. <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/>.