Kenyan parents
Feb 6 2015

Rejecting a cultural practice that harms girls

Daniel and Sophia

Daniel and Sophia, in Kenya, oppose FGM.


Daniel speaks proudly of his cultural heritage and passing it along to his children. There’s one tradition he and his wife won’t continue, though, in order to protect their daughters.

Female genital mutilation — also referred to as FGM or female circumcision — is a difficult subject to talk about in their culture, but the Kenyan couple agreed to speak with Unbound about their views.

FGM involves altering or injuring female genitalia for non-medical reasons. While it’s concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it’s a universal problem, according to the U.N., and is practiced in some countries in Asia and Latin America and by immigrant populations in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Daniel and Sophia have eight children — four girls and four boys. One of their sons, an 11-year-old boy, is sponsored through Unbound.

Daniel was born in the remote Samburu area of northern Kenya, known for its beautiful landscapes and rich culture. He moved from there 20 years ago in search of opportunity.

“I am from the Kenyan tribe called Samburu,” Daniel said. “My people are very traditional and they are true to their culture. As the rest of Kenya embraces Westernization, we still hold on to what we believe is real — our culture.”

There’s much about Samburu culture that Daniel loves.

“I love the Samburu regalia and am so proud when I get to wear it,” he said. “It also makes me happy to see my family adorned in our traditional gear. Many tribes in Kenya have done away with their traditional gear, but we stand tall and beautiful with ours. It sets us apart.”

Daniel also loves herding cattle, which he’s done since he was a little boy.

“I chose to carry the culture that is good and do away with that which is harmful,” he said.

The practice of FGM harms girls and women. It can cause severe bleeding, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth and higher risk of newborn deaths, according to the U.N., which estimates that more than 140 million girls and women alive today have gone through some form of FGM.

“It is difficult for me to talk about this because I detest it,” Daniel said.

Still, he agreed to share what happens in his community.

“When a girl reaches puberty, she has to be initiated to womanhood,” he said. “Her ears are pierced, her two lower teeth removed and finally she has to face the knife. Female relatives (aunts and grandmothers) are the ones who perform this ritual on a girl. …

“If a girl refused to be part of this initiation, she is referred to as an outcast and she cannot find a man to marry her. … Immediately after circumcision, the girl is married off. Many girls are age 12 at the circumcision initiation.”

Daniel said he “would never let my daughters go through such a humiliating thing.” His wife agreed.

“I do not like the circumcision culture,” Sophia said. “I would not let my daughters go through such cruelty.”

Besides the physical and emotional trauma, FGM has other negative effects.

A 2012 Unbound program evaluation in Kenya’s Meru area cited FGM and early marriage as the two main cultural barriers to education.

“These two factors are to a great extent interrelated in that most girls are married off immediately after undergoing FGM,” said a study authored by David Wamae of Unbound in Kenya.

Economic pressures to marry off girls for a “bride price” contribute to the continuation of FGM and early marriage. Even if girls are not married immediately after FGM, they may believe they are no longer children and school is not for them.

Sponsorship through Unbound helps relieve economic pressures on families by helping with educational costs and other needs. It also provides families with economic opportunities and a safe space to discuss issues such as FGM through support groups for mothers. Local staff members also make families aware of the health risks of FGM.

“It’s important for both men and women to understand the risks of FGM and protect girls from this dangerous practice,” said Dan Pearson, director of international programs for Unbound. “FGM has no benefits and only brings pain, trauma and a host of health risks to girls and women.”

#EndFGM

 

According to the U.N., the practice has persisted for more than a thousand years. Regina Muburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa, said it is seen as a “rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood” in some cultures, and is done to “tame [a girl’s] feelings and prepare her for the duty of being a wife.”

“This practice leaves a trail of destruction in the lives of girls,” Mburu said. “They are robbed of an important part of their lives as women, not to mention the health complications that can arise from the practice, especially during childbirth.”

While some cultures are known for upholding the practice, other communities continue it “mostly in hiding as the government has banned it,” Mburu said.

In the course of her work for Unbound, Mburu has spoken with women from several cultures about the practice.

“Talking to some women made me realize that they are at times forced by circumstances to make their daughters go through circumcision,” Mburu said.

One woman told her that if she tried to shield her daughter from the rite, “things might turn sour for me. My husband might decide to walk out on me and our children since we have disgraced him.”

Mburu said that in some cultures “anyone who wants to deviate is not only an outcast in her family, but also in the whole community.”

“I celebrate our rich culture and traditions as a Kenyan,” Mburu said. “However, I hope we can do away with cultural practices that discriminate against and hurt the girl child. I long for the day when we will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, taking the good and burying the bad.”

There are signs that attitudes are changing.

An evaluation in Unbound’s Meru program found that more than 90 percent of sponsored members surveyed said they felt confident and empowered to speak out against harmful practices. Another study found that girls and boys sponsored through Unbound stayed in school longer than the national average for Kenya, with girls remaining in school slightly longer than boys.

Daniel wanted to be a pilot growing up and wants his children get educational opportunities he didn’t have.

“My dream is to see my children excel,” Daniel said. “… I want them to have a better life, and that can only be achieved through education. They will become pilots and so much more.”

Melissa Velazquez, international evaluation and systems manager for Unbound, said Unbound provides a supportive context in which people can begin to make different choices for their families and futures.

“I am hopeful because with each generation things are changing,” Velazquez said.

Learn more about this issue:
United Nations
Religion News Service
The Guardian

55 thoughts on “Rejecting a cultural practice that harms girls”

  1. Well said Indigo, I pray that this wil happen one day soon, but the men and women of these countries who are bold enough to buck the practice will need support from the governnment and their relatives.

  2. Ok, people, the reason men are circumcised, is that its a health issue. Un circumcised men are dirty in that its harder to keep bacteria and infection in an area that rolls up like a shutter. I’m not saying they don’t wash and try to keep clean, just that its more difficult. And there are many more reason, not gonna get into that…religious or otherwise….

  3. Influencing another sovereign nation on its religious practices is a real reach under any circumstances, but when we kill millions of little girls in the womb we don’t have much credibility.

  4. I’m grateful to know there’s someone who’s willingly taking a stand and have a voice for the innocent young girls that are ridiculed and violated of their bodies, for the sake of others ritual and beliefs.

  5. There is a form of this ritual that does no harm, and could be promoted as an alternative to standard FGM. It involves a pinprick or small cut, with either no removal of tissue or removal of just a “scrape” of skin.

    This is comparable to male civilization, out perhaps even less traumatic.

    While some articles on the subject label this alternative add a minor form of Female Genital Mutilation, in truth, this form is not mutilation at all.

    Finally, circumcising men is not mutilation either, unless local aesthetic norms fern the appearance ugly. A tiny minority opinion (that circumcising is “MGM”) has gained an outsize voice, but it is false.

    1. Do you even know how many nerves are in the foreskin? People need to learn to leave other people’s genitals alone. Both females and males need to be protected. One does not need to be worse than the other for this to stop. If you were educated then you would realize that more nerves and tissue is lost during male circumcision. Genital integrity for both genders!

  6. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life

  7. Thank god for these kind wise people who refuse to be bullied into doing something unnecessary to their children they know will cause them agony and possibly death. Yes, its one family but it has to start somewhere.

  8. FGM and circumcision aren’t the same. Plain and simple. Both are traumatic but one has life long side effects for every case and the other only has a handful. Let’s be rational.

  9. It is actually scary how many Western ‘feminists’ – well radical cultural feminists and their culturally relativistic counterparts who are scholars actually agree with FGM and propose the west fund places to make the procedure safer while blatantly disregarding the highly oppressive and patriarchal constructs of these societies are.

    Our rights diminish under the premise of relativism and the cowardice of people to condemn what is a bad practice i.e. FGM on the grounds of tradition or culture. Hopefully there is a revival of equality and objective standards in the West and these societies can learn that these traditions are really terrible and recognise they have been duped into performing these rituals.

  10. Daniel and Sophia are typical of the Africans who are ruining their countries by having families that are too large. It is good that they are not going to harm their daughters, but wouldn’t it have been better for them to have only three children?
    When there are more people than there are ways of making a living, there are only 3 possibilities: live in poverty, leave, or force others to leave. This last is known as ‘persecution’.

  11. Yet modern medical science had proven that circumcised men are 99.998% likely to never develop penile cancer, and still there are those who oppose the procedure.

    As for FGM, no benefit has ever been shown, and there is a simple solution. As discussed above in the article, women who refuse to go though this are outcast – so be it. Let’s see how long their cultures survive without any women.

    They have the power to put a stop to it – band together, 100% and say “No. Go ahead and cast us out, and no one will bare your children. In a generation, you will be no more, but we will have no trouble finding someone else to impregnate us. We will teach a new generation our traditions, and yours will die with you.”

    1. Cancer of the penis is very rare. Breast cancer is much more common. Let’s cut breast off baby girls and then they will never get breast cancer. Ridiculous way of justifying circumcision. Why not just leave babies alone. As for female circumcision, it needs to end just the same as circumcisions performed on baby boys.

  12. You guys comparing FGM to circumcision are absolute idiots. What this article doesn’t say is after her labias are hacked off by whatever knife or machete that is around, she is sown completely together, with only little hole to pee. This heals to be just flat skin. Then when she is given away to marry, she is cut open and is forced to have sex while that wound has yet to heal, suffering that trauma all over. This can cause issues urinating, menstruating, not to mention numerous other things. So do your research! Men are circumcised usually at birth and cannot remember the experience and it happens only ONCE. There is no medical reason for them to retain that flap of skin and they don’t suffer problems with simple bodily functions because of it for the rest of their lives. So stop trying to make this about you and your first world problems and simply acknowledge this horrible problem happening instead of whining about yourselves.

    1. What I find hypocritical is the fact that so many women on here defending a practice that they themselves impose on their sons at an alarming rate. Every medical procedure is different because everyone’s body is different.

      This means that the results for every person will be different. You do not know how many men have been damaged by circumcision. You do not know the pain they feel. Many of the same reasons given for mutilated baby boys in the US are the same reasons for mutilated girls in regions in Africa. They include cleanliness and tradition, of which both are not valid reasons.

      You blast men who compare female circumcision to male circumcision. Men who were circumcised as babies might not remember the procedure but that does not mean that they do not live with the consequences.

      Does having your arm removed at birth make it any less dramatic? That person is still aware of what they are missing. Both female and male genital cutting needs to end. It is not about picking sides based on gender but standing up for what is right. With that said, you need to educate yourself on what the foreskin is and its purpose. It is not until then that you can truly understand what circumcised males are missing.

      This comment has been edited to comply with our guidelines for commenting.

    2. Male circumcision has a medical purpose, it removes the common historical problem of bacteria hiding in the folds of the penis head that would infect women during sex contributing to female infections and infections during fertilization. Men go through it once, don’t remember, and still receive tremendous pleasure from sex despite the procedure.

      Female genital mutilation in contrast to male circumcision “causes” infection in the girl/woman, removes a vast portion if not all of the topical sexual organs; the girl is then cut open with a knife and forced to have sex with the wound in place (from mutilation to intercourse involves no anesthesia). She also has to go through the trauma of a painful childbearing experience however many times she is successfully impregnated and gets to carry each child to term (men don’t have the burden of child birth or pregnancy or the risk of tearing the FGM wound open yet again during childbirth which is sometimes fatal). Not to mention the fact that these girls are extremely young with underdeveloped bodies; they often develop fistulas because their bodies are not developed enough to go through childbirth, at which time they are cast off by their husbands and have to live in a commune because of the foul smell from the bag they have to use for the incontinence caused by the fistula, or they die during childbirth.

      These procedures on girls AND women is torture. It is cruel and inhuman. It is not even the type of punishment civilized people anywhere would consider inflicting on a convicted criminal. When will women and the good men in the world wake up and see how abusive men have been to women since the beginning of time?

  13. Good article.
    What is curious is that FGM is practically dead in most if not all of the Eastern African countries except for pockets in Ethiopia and Eritrea. What is keeping it alive are the organisations that raise money to fight it.

    Does anybody ever wonder why there have been millions poured in Africa to support girls education and anti-FGM campaigns for over 30 years now, and there is no report of progress. The campaign themselves have become the job in itself whether there is need or not. Kenya has free mandatory Government-funded primary education for boys and girls! And it’s well enforced. NGOs are the end in themselves in Africa, they are the goals, not the purported campaigns!

  14. FGM is just another manifestation of cultures for whom women are nothing better than livestock. Well meaning “outsiders” target that one practice, but frankly, you’re probably better off without ambition or desire if you are trapped in a culture that says you should be married at age 12. That’s why the only thing I will donate to for any of these poor countries is girls’ education (which leads to lower birth rates, for a start).

  15. FGM is an appalling tradition. The fathers AND mothers need to know what Daniel & his wife know, that it’s a bad part of their heritage which they can & must stop, even while maintaining good parts of their heritage.
    The key to change is Education of girls and boys equally, although in many of the nations involved it’s the “Religion” (religio-political IDE

  16. What does the chief executive of the United States have to say about this kind of tradition? We in the United States who get on our high horse and tell other nations how to behave. He has something to say about gay marriage, basketball brackets, stupid police officers. What does he have to say about this tradition practiced in his father’s homeland?

  17. If change is what is needed, let it come from within, not from busybody outside agitators. The world is tired of their meddling, and, boy, do I loathe them.

  18. Cultures who cut their girls also cut their boys.

    STOP all forms of genital mutilation. Male and Female.
    Its all the same.
    Stop the denial, Stop the cutting.
    *Stop the barbarity*

  19. My take on this practice pf FGM is that more often than not, female energy, capacity for sex and crave for orgasm is hardly matched by a male’s ability to satisfy her. Man is almost always interested in doing his own thing without having to worry about his partner’s needs or feelings. Thus the easiest way to avoid getting embroiled in any conversation about his inability is nipped in bud, before it ever becomes an issue.

  20. I was at the cosmetic institute in bondi last week awaiting my breast implant surgery and I found myself sitting next to a Muslim woman who was going in for her vaginal reconstruction surgery. I’m a straight forward person and when her husband left to fill her scripts I simply asked her why? She explained that her husband no longer liked the way it looked or felt after she had her now 5mth old son. I couldn’t belive it? I then asked her if it was something she wanted and her eyes answered my question. All the girls In my family have it done after child birth she told me. “To please our husbands.” She wasn’t having her clitoris removed as I’m sure she didn’t have one anyway plus it’s illegal in Australia. But she was removing her labias and reducing the entire size of the vulva which to me ment she may as we’ll not even have a vagina. What would be left??? A hole for a penis? Wow y not just use the anus? Men don’t give a rats about women. These kind of men are so frustrated about the. Fact that it was a vagina that brought them into this world. No amount of mutilation will ever change the fact that women are miracles and without us man wouldn’t even exist… This day and age women don’t even need a man to conceive anymore! We have spirm doners for that! FGM will never stop… Men will make sure of that .., Maybe and only maybe will it stop in some parts of the world. I’m glad I live in Australia. My heart goes out to all the women of the world that are owned by men. I admire your courage and strength. I’d commit suicide if I wasn’t in control of my own body, life or decisions. Im the only person that will ever own me… What a remarkable man to defend the rights of his daughters when so many in this world belive women shouldn’t have rights! Women will always be more powerful than man. Men have been abusing women for far too long?

    1. “This day and age women don’t even need a man to conceive anymore! We have spirm doners for that!”
      …. Isn’t the sperm donor by definition a MAN?! Find me a woman who can make healthy sperm… you can’t. The fact is that both a man and woman is needed for reproduction… stop pitting the sexes against each other. We just need to love and respect one another no matter their sex. No sex is “greater” than the other. We compliment each other and provide a balance in nature that has to this point ensured the survival of humankind through the ages.

    2. Well Jordan, talking of female mutilation why were you having breast implants? I abhor the fact of FMG but find it ironic that you are discussing mutilation of the female body.
      Please, if you are going to write a comment, spend some time learning spelling and English grammar.

  21. The article is impressive. Daniel and his wife must be commended for their bravery to speek out. The crusaders and proponents to stop FGM should be supported. There is no doubt the article left out the main reason for FGM which is also most inhuman about it. Women satisfaction. FGM targets the most sensitive instruments of sexual pleasure on the female body, leaving the woman only as a sexual tool in the hands of a man. She is no longer in control. No stimulated and intentional orgasm, no drive to initiate sexual encounter. One fundamental component of the three functions of marriage is mutilated, organic contact for pleasure. The other two being companionship and propagational. FGM is wrong and it must be stopped. The article is circulating in the right forum because it is these readers who will contribute the means to enable the launching of FGM stop awareness. Boys circumcision on the other hand has not been proven to be a bad thing for boys. If anything circumcision not only increases sexual stimulation on the boy, it also increases hygiene and reduces the rate of CTDs infection. Many men today volunteer to go under the knife because it is beneficial. We should not compare circumcision with the brutal and cruel practice of FGM.

  22. It’s ironic how FGM gets the attention, yet evrryday, thousands of boys have their genital integrity taken from them as well. Each is a violation of human rights, each requires the nonconsenting removal of perfectly healthy tissue. Yet we don’t bat an eye at MGM. YouTube Elephant in the Hospital. Seriously. Go Do it. Each gender, each sex, deserves the right to bodily integrity and autonomy.

  23. It’s interesting you think these women have the freedom to say ‘ No ‘ to having sex with their husband. They are seen as little more than a work animal with a job/duty to preform. I believe this is also a major issue that needs to be addressed.

  24. It is sad when anyone loses something that is theirs. Genital mutilation of both females and males is horrible. What I will say, as a circumcised male, is that just as much trauma can be afflicted to males as females. The article is about female circumcision and the need for it to stop. It should stop . I agree with Tom, he is spot on. How many woman here are outraged at fgm yet demand that their son or husband be circumcised. You are cutting away over 20,000 nerve endings and exposing an undeveloped penis to the outside. The frenulum is said to be the most sensitive spots on a penis. Uncircumcised men derive the same type of pleasure from the frenulum and ridged band as woman do from the clitoris. Circumcision destroys an otherwise healthy frenulum. Doctors often went out of their way to remove this. Genital mutilation needs to stop. The difference is that men in America don’t run to defend males circumcised in Africa and them demand that our American women be circumcised. Do you see the hippocracy? Many girls suffer from circumcision as do men. Both are wrong and American women need to stop letting their sons get circumcised just because that’s the mom’s sexual preference. Imagine men desiring small labia on women so he has his daughter done knowing that’s prefered by men in America. That’s what is happening here in America. Stop cutting baby boys and leave girls alone. Period!

  25. What a horrible thing. As nice as it is to hear from the people out there that buck this trend, I think this article would leave a much bigger impression if it focused on interviewing those that actually whole heartedly believe in this practice. I feel it would leave a stronger impression on me anyway.

  26. ANOTHER “converstation” about FGM. COME ON! The folks who read this article aren’t the ones who need to be lectured (AGAIN)! WE already know! It’s the folks in the mud huts you need to reach…and they don’t have the Internets!

    This will stop when mom’s in mud huts make it stop. ANOTHER article leveled at First Worlders isn’t going to do the trick.

  27. No, it’s not just FGM that has to be stopped. Once again, an issue that affects both genders has been hijacked by feminists. Yes, we must stop genital mutilation. We must also stop the childish thrill that women get when a man is mutilated. Sharon Osborne on CBS’s The Talk made jokes about about a man who was drugged by his wife, tied up, and had his manhood cut off and thrown down the garbage disposal. She did this on national tv, getting theowhole cast and audience to chortle, guffaw, and laugh for 10 minutes. This woman is still on the air. the show is still on the air. Why? Because women have NO COMAPSSION for men. If this case had been a man putting FGM out for a laugh on national tv, every woman in America would be up in arms. When it happens to a man, it’s not only OK, it’s fodder for comedy.

    1. Tony,
      Thank you for your message. Unbound upholds the dignity of all people and is, obviously, opposed to making light of human suffering. Our emphasis on FGM was because it is a particular issue in countries where we work.
      -Larry Livingston, senior writer/editor

    2. well Tony, We are not talking about an occasional assault here. We are talking about over 90 percent of women in many north african countries being mutilated, not just a few. I am astonished that you see discussion of this issue as an excuse to whinge about women “having no compassion for men”. You remind me of those men who, every time a women’s service was funded, complained and said “men need some of that funding too!” Your hated “feminists” worked hard and long to raise issues that affected and improved the whole of society on a massive scale. I suggest you stop your narcissism and stop your victim mentality. Take a look around you and think of others for a change. What makes you think you know what women think, anyhow?

    3. To “tony sprout” – your premise is faulty. Men do not experience the forced removal of their sexual organs as millions of young girls do every year, in the name of “tradition”. The same “tradition” that caused women’s feet to become useless by Chinese foot-binding for hundreds of years. Another example of a painful procedure with no benefit other than to control women by altering their very bodies. And, For your information women do have compassion for men – I have a father, a brother, a husband, a son, all men, whom I love very much and would never wish harm upon. I saw that episode of the TV show with Sharon Osborne that you refer to and was horrified – there is nothing funny about mutilating anyone. Other women I’ve spoken with also had that reaction. Just because one woman laughed inappropriately (perhaps out of nervousness or embarrassment) does not mean every woman shares her sentiment, so do not condemn all women. My advice to you is to try to see things more reasonably and without your extreme bias against women. Look into what FGM is, before equating unnecessary and painful forced wholesale removal of females sexual organs to… what exactly? Male circumcision or removal of the foreskin? A much lesser operation.

      1. You are kidding , right? How is male circumcision not “forced removal of their sexual organs”? Just because it’s commonly done to infants who can’t fight back doesn’t mean they wouldn’t if they could. Your statement that it’s “a much lesser operation” is nothing more than a justification protecting your status quo with no basis in fact. Male circumcision continues to be practiced where it has taken hold due to parental fear of ridicule, exactly as female circumcision continues where it is the common practice. Both are equally abhorrent.

        1. Circumcision is not the removal of the organ, it is the removal of the foreskin. While I don’t support it, there is absolutely no comparison to removing a clitoris, which is to a woman what the whole penis is to a man.

        2. one cannot even compare the two; an infant goes through a simple quick procedure in a sterile, controlled envinroment and then is monitored by medical staff while recovering, and is given pain control. I saw the procedure in school, the baby cried for less then two minutes. A young girl is held down while a knife, or something similair, Ive heard of sharp stones and broken glass being used, repeatedly cuts her genitalia. And the most sensitive of areas gets the most trauma. The girls legs are held apart and the more fighting she does, the more cutting she gets. No boy goes through anything like this.

      2. It’s funny because I immediately think of how we should abolish all genital mutilation when I see an article like this. Now I get that an assault is different from a cultural practice, but male circumcision is also harmful and can cause long term harm. Aside from the occasional cases of accidental ablation, you have a whole host of side effects that are experienced by many men including pain and sexual issues that include loss of sensitivity because of the number of nerve endings that are part of the foreskin. I think the only reason there are people still defending the practice is because it is so prevalent in developed nations that like to think of themselves as civilized and therefore they refuse to look in the mirror and see their own harmful and discriminatory practices. We can get into a which is worse debate, but really they’re both awful. How can you say it’s okay to circumcise a male because it only results in a partial loss of function but not okay to circumcise a female because it results in total loss of function? It’s like saying it’s not okay to cut off your child’s arm, but if you only cut off a couple of their fingers, that’s all right. How about we just stop cutting things off of people regardless of gender, regardless of culture. It’s a human rights issue, and men are marginalized with this one. Additionally, there are some cultures that perform male genital mutilation to a much more extreme level called subincision, and you rarely hear about them, but it is horrifying, every bit as horrifying as FGM, and a lot more widespread than you might imagine. If you’re not familiar, look it up on wiki, but the photos are not really for the feint of heart. Like FGM, this is tribal cultural tradition with no medical basis and needs to be stopped, but before it can be stopped we need to start having a conversation about it.

      3. “Male circumcision” is not the same as female circumcision at all. Since both the Jewish and Arabic men are circumcised, if they did not feel any sexual arousal there would be NOOOOO problems in the Middle East!

    4. Tony, don’t generalize. I know you know better. Many women have great compassion for men. So sorry you have not met too many of them. They do exist.

    5. This is an article about FGM. So often I read an article about FGM, fundraising and the like, and someone will immediately comment about how funding is needed to stop circumcision and how more awareness needs to be given to its cause. Doing so in this venue only serves to detract from FGM and this is not helpful. It’s always done in piffy manner too, as if to say that FGM isn’t as important, or at the very least they are one in the same. That’s false. Trolling FGM pages doesn’t help. Start your own fundraisers and campaigns then. No one is stopping you. If I am talking about human slavery and you bring up how chickens are treated in CAFOs, and say CAFOs are bad! Ok, yes they are. That’s true. We are not talking about chickens right now. It’s not the same thing. To do so is detracting from this cause. That doesn’t make me a chicken hater, it just makes me aware of context and appropriateness.Thank you. Here is apot that distinguishes the two acts for better clarification. http://jessicaseclecticthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/07/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-is-not-on.html

    6. Grow up Tony. Feminists are people who believe in equal rights for both genders. This is not a feminist issue, however. It is a human decency one. You might want to work on your own human decency, and let go of some of your anger.

    7. Exactly right. I will never be able to understand the cultural blindness of speaking out against the forced genital cutting of female victims while not also advocating for males and intersex. Each individual is the only one who can ethically choose how much of his or her own genitals to keep and enjoy – or permanently cut off.

  28. Interestingly, the article only cites tradition and culture as the reason for FGM! Any one with a modicum of common sense can see how inhumane and idiotic FGM is. Perhaps it was supposed to be an early version of birth control – if a woman receives no pleasure from having sex then she would not be interested in sex which translates to a lower birth rate.

    1. RE JRnFLA’s comment:

      You’re close…. you’re correct that one of the main results of FGM is that it makes sex less pleasurable, but the intended “benefit” is not birth control (via women having no interest in sex). In fact, many/most of the cultures who practice FGM have historically reproduce at staggering rates. Nope… this exists to try and keep wives from cheating on their husbands. Behind all of the talk of “entry into womanhood” and “a rite of passage,” the ENTIRE purpose behind it’s creation was to prevent wives from having extramarital sex. That’s it. The idea obviously being that, due to the unsatisfying nature of post-FGM sex (for women), the women wouldn’t have any motivation to go out and fool around. To attribute any other rationale for it’s existence is complete nonsense, fabricated as a result of feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shame that are generated by the objective brutality of the procedure and people’s general difficulty in accepting the fact that something like this can continue to exist in the complete absence of any palatable explanation. Western media, which generally condemns the practice, is even guilty of doing this… likely for fear of “offending” the subject cultures or coming across as “insensitive.”

      Now, the impact that FGM has on a married couple’s own sex life is a complete non-issue in these cultures… if the husband wants to have sex with his wife, he has sex with her. The wife “not being in the mood” would, in most cases, be seen as totally irrelevant. As a westerner, it’s difficult for us to wrap our heads around things like this, but for the people who are members of these cultures, they generally don’t even think to question any of it… it’s just the way things have always been. As more and more of these people are exposed to western culture, practices like FGM will start to become less common.

    2. Its not intended as birth control. It is simply cruel male domination. It is intended to take any enjoyment out of sex, or to make sexual intercourse painful for women, in the attempt to keep them from cheating on their husband. In such cultures, the husband is seen as the “owner” of the woman.

    3. Why would a culture be interested in birth control? Societies wanted to grow and create more people. This has nothing to do with birth control and everything to do with subjugation and ownership of women.

  29. In the words of American poet John Mayer:

    “Fathers be good to you daughters
    Daughters will love like you do
    Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
    So mothers, be good to your daughters too.”

    I pray that Female Circumcision will disappear in the 21th century as foot binding was eradicated in China during the 20th century. May God bless you for your bravery in opposing this entrenched custom.

    Peace be upon you, Sir.

  30. Thanks for the great article! It’s awesome to hear from a Dad who is opposed to it and has chosen a better path for his girls.

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