Currently, there are over 200 million girls and women in this world who have had their basic human rights stripped from them. These women are victims of female genitalia mutilation, a surgery or series of surgeries that often include removing the clitoris and parts of labia minora, as well as creating a seal (which is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia majora, or by stitching) to narrow the vaginal opening.
According to the World Health Organization, these procedures have absolutely no health benefits and only cause harm to girls and women. Since these surgeries alter the female anatomy in a way it is not supposed to be altered, girls can experience severe pain, genital tissue swelling, excessive bleeding, urinary problems, infections, and even death.
“Why would anyone do that?” you may be asking yourself.
Well, these young girls and women do not have a choice. These procedures that are most common in regions of Africa, as well as countries in Asia and the Middle East, are performed on girls between infancy and adolescence, which means they do not have a say in what is being done to their bodies.
These horrid surgeries take place in societies that believe FGM procedures are a necessary part of being a woman and make a woman more qualified for marriage. Women who are not cut are often ostracized. Katherine Wander, a professor of anthropology at Binghamton University, spoke to NPR about the backlash against “uncut” women.
“When women who are not cut marry into a family with a cutting tradition, they’re treated quite horribly,” she said. “They’re made fun of. People won’t eat the food they prepare. They’re called dirty and spiritually impure. The primary source of conflict is not with their husband but with other women in the household, who look at them with disgust.”
These women are damned physically if they get the surgery, and damned socially if they do not. Nobody has the right to know what anyone else’s genitals look like, and the fact that women are being socially exiled for having a natural vagina is beyond ridiculous.
However, what is equally ridiculous is the idea that altering a vagina changes a woman’s value, or makes her more qualified for marriage.
In a New York Times article which focused on female genitalia mutilation in Indonesia, Lukman Hakim, the chairman of an Islamic educational and social-services organization, was quoted as saying, “It will make a woman look more beautiful in the eyes of her husband.”
What makes a woman beautiful is never what is in her underwear. Women are beautiful when they are strong, ambitious, and passionate, and these violent and dehumanizing acts do not do anything but cause physical and emotional harm to women.
When their genitals are cut, they simply become easier for a male dominated society to control. Women cannot focus on important things like education when they are experiencing excessive bleeding and a vaginal infection due to a backdoor FGM procedure.
These procedures are a violation of basic human rights, and they need to end. Stop cutting women and allow them to reach their greatest potential.
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