FGM. Female genital mutilation. The mutilation of female genitals. Take a moment to allow that to sink in. The MUTILATION of one’s genitals. You know when you read about horrific stories in the news, about people who have been involved in horrific fights in some parts of Britain, and they have their face slashed? It’s like that. Only it isn’t as a result of a fight; oh and it’s the genitals that are mutilated, not the faces.
Some women have their clitoris removed, hacked off with a rusty old knife in a shack in parts of the African continent. Some women are sewn up from their anus to the front of their vulva by witch doctors or village elders in a two up two down in Brixton. Some women have medically trained doctors perform the “ritual”; some women don’t have the luxury of clean knife to prevent them from dying of tetanus. Some women have this when they are just eight years old. Some women are children.
So where did it all start? It started far from here. Far from my sitting room in a middle class area of rural and coastal Wales. It started where grass doesn’t grow, and it rarely rains. It started because of the need to keep women restricted; and not just sexually. Of course lots of the cultures where this was originally practised (some parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East), it is entirely to do with sexual restriction. To keep the woman, nay, girl, a virgin until she was married to allow her family name to be upheld. Some women, nay, girls, are sewn up completely, with only a small hole to allow for urine and menstruation to pass through; that is then cut open when she is ready for bearing a child.
As with male circumcision, lots of cultures view “uncut” girls as dirty and an embarrassment to the family and certain religions hold this view; needless to say it’s the religions that try their hardest to oppress women that hold this view.
So, it started in far away lands, to my sitting room where I’m sat writing this, knowing that sexual pleasure is mine if I want it, knowing that if I want to have another child it won’t require an illegal procedure taking place on my bedroom floor, knowing that I won’t bleed to death once I’ve been sewn up after giving birth. It doesn’t end like that. It doesn’t end in faraway lands. It hasn’t ended. It happens all the time, girls are removed from Britain and sent to another country to have the procedure performed, usually in the summer holidays.
Some girls are subjected to the horror of being mutilated here in the UK, often having an elder of their community cut their clitoris off with a pair of scissors, patched up with a bit of gauze to hopefully stop her from bleeding to death. I’ll spare you the photos that Google has flung up, because a lump forms in my throat when I see the expressions on those little girls’ faces. Fear, terror and fairly often screaming.
People shrug their shoulders, assume that because it isn’t happening in their community it doesn’t matter. Having eight year-old girls with their vaginas sewn shut, their labias removed and their clitorises hacked off with scissors DOES matter, it is happening EVERY day IN this country and most likely in a city near to you. 60,000 girls were mutilated last year. SIXTY THOUSAND little girls had their private parts mutilated. And for why? To stop them from enjoying sex. To stop them from ever trying to have an affair away from their marriage. To stop them from embarrassing their father.
I’m embarrassed for the men that allow this to go on. I’m embarrassed that they think it’s ok, I’m ashamed; and more than anything I am sad. These little girls are removed from what they know, from playing in the playground, to have their legs sprawled open and the most horrific acts of abuse taking place on them. they’re told from being able to understand that their privates are just that, private. Unless of course it’s for modesty purposes, in which case one must cut their sex away. This is where it becomes a feminist issue. It isn’t all about ending page three, and getting rid of lads’ mags; it’s this, trying to prevent little girls from being mutilated so they can remain sexless. Sexless, in all manners of speaking. Show your support #endfgm