Popularly abbreviated as FGM, It is a worldwide problem existing even in a civilized society like America. It is an act performed in most instances as a ritual. It involves the cutting of the external part of the female genital parts. As much as the world is advanced there are still places that it is still practiced in the world. Under normal circumstances, such practices would be expected in the third world countries. There was quite a surprise when recently it surfaced that such a practice is still taking place in United States of America of all the places. Therefore the research paper looked at the Effects Of The Female Genital Mutilation as narrated by five immigrant women from Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia where the practice is abhorred.
Bede (n.d) defines female genital mutilation as a practice involving an operation on the genital parts of the female genital. This practice has catastrophic outcomes for the girl child. The reason for this research is to find out on how the issue of genital mutilation in Africa affects most societies that practice them. The research mostly dwelt on countries in Africa. It has to be noted that cases of female genital mutilation have been reported in America and even U.K. (Esu et al 37). Both locally and internationally it’s been recognized that this practice violates the rights of these girls. However, albeit female genital mutilation is a very sensitive issue, most places in Africa may not know of this practice as an abuse due to poor education backgrounds. For once the practice affects the lives of innocent children. On the other hand, it is a cultural issue and it has to be taken slowly. People will have to be educated on the effects of this practice ultimately. The study looked at some of the countries in Africa like Kenya and Somalia.
Aims of the Research
The main objective of the research was to find out how and why people are carrying these practices in the communities. Other matters are the complications that come with it. Also, the paper looked at how exactly culture influences the issue of female genital mutilation. These three issues will form the true premise of this research. Moreover, it was equally important to examine how the practice violates the rights of children involved and how they can possibly be assisted.
Due to the sensitivity of the topic in Africa, there are not as many researchers as there should be about this topic. The only place that this information can easily be found is the internet for those who can read and write. But in Africa, it must be noted that this practice is prevalent in remote areas. Those people who could be of help in such places are either unwilling or are themselves facing grinding poverty and lack of resources to do so (Esu 21-22). It has to be noted that FGM is not just a matter of it being practiced in Africa only but it has widely spread to other regions mostly due to the question of immigration. Therefore, it has to come to the conscience of the people as a way of promoting good care of the women and girls. Research done in public health services proves that there are perceived difficulties when talking about the issue in public health systems. However, no matter how difficult this issue is for people it is something that has to be addressed.
Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation.
A 2008 research done by Paliwal and others found out that this practice has negative implications on the health of women and girls. They include issues such as over bleeding due to the operation being done unprofessionally leading to the death of some of them (Paliwal et al 282-288). On the consequences are urine retention, sexual intercourse that is painful and complications during labor among other things.
Female Genital Mutilation and Sexual Intercourse
Reisel and Sarah in their study found out that the reason why this abusive act is prevalent is that it is believed it controls sexual urges (Reisel and Sarah 48-51). In Kenya, it is widely believed that a woman who has undergone the operation will be faithful. Though there is no documentary evidence of the same, this is the main fodder that feeds this agenda in the remote regions of Kenya. In some parts of Somalia and Ethiopia, it is believed that if a woman is not cut, then the clitoris may grow long enough to resemble a man’s penis. According to them, female genital mutilation has become a torture for most women that are cut (Gupta 184-190). This is because sex while mutilated can be very painful and leads to lack of sexual fulfillment on the part of such a woman (Reisel and Sarah 48-51) when there is a practice that makes the sexual action on the part of a woman difficult it is a practice that should be abolished.
It has been widely viewed that clitoris is very important if a woman has to get pleasure from having sex and not pain. Female Genital Mutilation is practiced by very many of the world’s religions. For example, in Somalia where over 90% of the populations are Muslims, there are 80% of women who have been cut compared to just 18% of Christians. This practice is widely attributed to the fact there are most likely misinterpretations. Neither Koran nor the bible has writings promoting this practice.
Kenya and Somalia
In Africa, there is a wind of change sweeping across on the aspect of FGM. The reason is that most African countries have put in place measures to control the issue of FGM. However, there is a serious issue when it comes to the implementation of the same. Because for once in rural town people will collude to promote this practice and do it without anyone knowing. In Kenya, it was discovered that in the early 2000’s up to 32% of the women there had undergone female genital mutilation. This practice has been seen in children as young as twelve years old.
However, the government of Kenya has come up with stringent laws to curb this vice which is now considered illegal in Kenya. The practice under the Children’s Act imposes a jail time of up to twelve months and fine of up to 50,000 shillings or both. This policy directive had been circulated around the country through the ministry of health and ministry of gender and social services. When the country entered into the Maputo protocol in 2003, it put emphasis on article 5 that condemned and even prohibited the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. In Somalia, there has been no open and strongly backed up legislation against the practice in Somalia. However, there is the introduction of legislation that urged strongly against the female genital mutilation. In Somali, the awareness campaign started as early as the 1980s. However, this ended with the regime collapse of 1991.This political turmoil has led to no lack of real action against this practice in Somalia.
Both primary and secondary data were used in the research. Secondary data were useful especially in the formulation of the research questions and also checking on the validity and reliability of the research tools and data. Five immigrant women who have gone through the practice were interviewed on the issue. Two of the five women were interviewed through email, one on a telephone call while the remaining two it was a face to face communication. Also, two women were from Somalia, one from Ethiopia and the remaining two from Kenya. The five met in the United States and they have been championing for the right of the girl child back at home in the Horn of Africa. The result was then recorded then put in a manner that was easier to analyze and digest. The method involved exploring different attitudes of the people and their behavior towards the issue. The research majored on experiences that have been felt by the five women. The approach ended up yielding more results than it would normally do when using methods such as a questionnaire or even numerical data. By using interviews it ended exploring the general feelings when it came to this issue.
On the question of reliability, it can be said to be about the effectiveness of the method and even how consistency it would be. On the issue of consistency, it is always about how good the results will be if the same method was used but this time in a different environment. The fact that all the five women gave the same response means that the method was valid and reliable as well. Ethical issues were addressed before the interviews began. In this consideration, any sensitive matter that could have been distressing to those who were participating was promptly addressed. The interviewees were told that should they become uncomfortable at any time they should raise it. If at all they were wanted to quit they could do so at any moment they wanted. For the sake of confidentiality, their identities were to be protected.
Findings and Discussion
All the five women brought solid and very consistent answers when it came to the issue of Female Genital Mutilation. The women as they spoke showed that they were at pains with the kind of experiences they had after the act happened to them. All of them were obviously against the practice and wished it could be abolished or another cultural practice is taken to replace this act. From the narrations, the women showed that they did it because it was expected of them and that if they had a choice they would not do it. One woman gave an account on how she bleed for days to such a point that she even thought of dying, and according to Balfour (409), this is something common to most girls. According to her, it was an unfortunate incident that many innocent women are still going through back at home in Somalia. Those who refuse to go through the act are seen as societal rejects and no man can dare marry them. It is like a ticket to marriage. The two women who gave the face to face account of the incident did with tears flowing down their cheeks and this proves how painful the practice is. They all vowed never to allow their daughters to go through the act and this is the reason why they formed the group called Woman for Woman which has been on the forefront in educating the society back at home on the effects of FGM.
One woman mentioned that some of the tools which are used in this practice end up transmitting diseases. She stated a lot of safety concerns when it came to the practice. She also stated psychological torture that the practice made her endure. Socially, all the five admitted that when one contracted diseases they would in most cases feel embarrassed to even talk about it as they suffered internally. Sexually, all of they agreed that they experienced excruciating pain during sex and for those who did not, made it clear that they never enjoyed sex. This was in line with a similar study which had been done by Adelufosi et al. (56-59). It was evidently clear that some members of the society support this practice making it difficult to fight it; therefore, rendering many young women voiceless. However, there is a common view that at some point some of these girls had considered running away. And that education was becoming more and more of a priority among these people. The practice is done against the will of women the most women would not love to go through it.
The biggest issue in trying to tackle the issue of FGM is not just in the fact that it has been illegalized by the law but that there are cultures that still supports it. This practice is the social fabric of this society and getting rid of it would obviously take some time. However, there is a chance of doing so. Based on the findings, the practice is inevitably going to change as there are civil societies up in arms and are serious about protecting these young women from this abuse.
The study recommends the following;
- The international community should play a leading role in supporting NGOs such as “Woman for Woman” formed by the five women in education societies where the vice is prevalent.
- Education should be emphasized as a way of making people aware that not only is the practice outdated but also morally wrong.
- Individual governments should come up with stringent laws aimed at punishing the culprits and they should ensure the laws are implemented fully and followed to the latter.