As women living in America, though we have our own uphill battles to fight, we lead pretty empowered and comfortable lives when compared to other cultures. We have a lot of freedoms, and importantly, control over our bodies. For other women in different parts of the globe, this isn’t necessarily the case. One primary example is the ongoing practice of female genital mutilation. This may be something that’s difficult for us to wrap our minds around, but truth be told, the “procedure” is alive and well in several countries.
One of the most common questions that comes to mind when we hear the phrase “female genital mutilation” is WHY? The countries that practice this procedure have a strong conviction that the female genitalia are for reproductive reasons and reproductive reasons alone. That translates to no pleasure, which is why the “feel good” parts such as the clitoris are often removed. Another reason these cultures feel so strongly about the practice is the emphasis placed on marrying a virgin. According to Unicef, of the 125 million women who have been subjected to female cutting worldwide, the most prevalent countries are located in Africa and the Middle East. In fact, one in five of these women reside in Egypt, and among women ages 15 to 49, 91% have undergone the procedure.
All that being said, there are activists working constantly to eradicate the practice - and rightfully so. Many international treaties consider female genital mutilation a violation of rights for females. On October 30, 2014, the UN secretary general announced a worldwide campaign to end the practice within a decade. Perhaps it goes without saying, for us Americans, that there are no health benefits of female genital mutilation and that perfectly healthy parts of the female anatomy are being compromised.
So, what can we do to help these young women? There are a number of organizations such as (I)NTACT and Stop Mutilation that offer ways for us to get involved and join the crusade to end this practice. As women, it’s so important that we lift each other up and support the well-being of other females, nationally and globally. Together, we truly believe we can make a difference and improve the lives and health of all women!