Why the fight against female genital mutilation is not something to turn away from.
Ouda is seven-years-old and is very excited.
Wearing her best party outfit at her home in Sudan, Africa, she jumps around explaining to the cameraman that today she is going to become a woman. She has even been promised sweets following her special ceremony.
What Ouda doesn’t know is that ten minutes later when the ‘ceremony’ begins, she will be asked to strip naked, her arms and legs will be held down by some of the female neighbors she has grown up around, while an older woman cuts off her clitoris using an old and unsterile razor blade.
This horrific footage filmed by Women’s Action Against Female Genital Mutilation (WAAF) shows Ouda scream for her mother, but neither her mother nor father can bear to be nearby when their daughter goes through this chilling procedure, and so neither parent answers her call.
She asks what she did wrong whilst the women apply a mixture of flour and egg to help seal the open and bleeding wound.
If Ouda survives without going into shock, suffering excessive bleeding, or septicemia, the psychological and long-term complications are irreparable.
FGM is worldwide
In Africa up to three million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation every year and alarmingly cases are becoming more common in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the USA.
Organizations such as WAAF and Amnesty International are working to raise awareness and to gain support for the movement against the procedure both internationally and also within countries that continue to practice FGM.
Trying to overcome a practice that holds such deep cultural and marital significance can prove difficult in endogenous societies where to ‘deprive’ a young girl of the operation is seen to seriously jeopardize her and her family’s chances of finding a husband.
In other communities villagers believe the clitoris is poisonous and causes harm to the body.
Communities therefore find themselves challenged to decide between what they say is an ancient cultural practice and what has become a controversial topic, while campaigners say the practice infringes on the human rights of a woman or girl.
As Nahld Toubia, a physician from Sudan, working to end the practice said: “No ethical defense can be made for preserving a cultural practice that damages women’s health and interferes with their sexuality.
However, through educational and grass-roots campaigns, changes can be brought about, such as in Burkina Faso which introduced a law prohibiting FGM in 2008 and imposes severe punishments for anyone caught excising girls.
Other charities working to end the practice include The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
While FGM may not practiced in your country organizations the WAAF reminds us why it does matter: “the fight against violence and discrimination towards women knows no national or geographical borders.”
If you too consider the practise a violation of the rights of women and young girls like Ouda and would like to become involved in any way, please contact one of the following organizations:
Stop FGM now: www.stop-fgm-now.com/who-is-fighting-fgm
Sign a petition to stop FGM at: www.petitiononline.com/fgm2003/petition.html
World Health Organization: www.who.int/en/” http://www.who.int/en/
Amnesty International: www.amnesty.org/
How aware are you of FGM? How do you feel about the issue of FGM and the organizations working to end the practise? Let us know in the comments below.