Last week a federal judge ruled that Congress cannot ban the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). US District Judge Bernard Friedman said that the 22-year-old ban was unconstitutional and that it should be left to the states to decide because the procedure is basically criminal assault. I’m sure for the victims of FGM they might not agree.
The first time I had ever heard of FGM was after reading the book “Infidel”. “Infidel” by Ayann Hirsi Ali is about her life growing up in Somali, surviving FGM, and becoming an outspoken advocate in support of women’s rights. After reading the book, I did a project on FGM in college and really began to understand the brutality of this practice.
FGM is the practice of removing the clitoris and in some cases the labia and the vulva. In some cases, an infibulation is done where the clitoris, labia minora, labia majora are removed and sewn together to create a covering seal. FGM is normally done to young girls before they hit puberty with hopes that by removing their exterior sexual organs they will remain a virgin until they get married. FGM is often cited as a religious practice, when it is more of a cultural practice. It is most often done in western, eastern, and north-African countries, some parts of the Middle East, and Asia. It is also done in immigrant communities worldwide, which is why Congress had to place the ban against the practice here in the United States.
There is no medical need for FGM and the process often creates severe medical and psychological problems for the girls and women who have to undergo this heinous practice. It leads to incontinence, urinary tract infections, painful menstrual cycles, and in cases where infibulation was done defibulation, the process of removing the covering seal, must be done to allow for intercourse and childbirth. It leads to PTSD, depression, and low self-esteem. FGM is often forced upon young girls where it is not their choice. Not only is this unjust, but we are continuing the practice of letting girls feel ashamed of their bodies and their natural sexual urges.
The human body was designed for pleasure and the clitoris was designed to help us feel pleasure through sexual intimacy. There is no other part of our body that has as many nerve endings as the clitoris, 8000 nerve endings are on the clitoris which is twice the amount on the penis. Sex is not a dirty word nor it is a dirty act. God created us to be sexual beings and we must teach our children how to have responsible sex lives not punish them for being for sexual. We must teach our girls that their sexual pleasure is important too. Throughout history, sexual pleasure is something that has been only allowed for men. By continuing the practice of FGM we are perpetuating the idea that sexual pleasure is only for men.
The World Health Organization considers FGM to be a human rights violation. Despite what Judge Bernard Friedman said, it is more than just a criminal assault, and we have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable population: our children.
If you would like to find our more about FGM or ways to get involved with the fight against FGM please see some organizations below: