Cut, dice, slice and chop. Bet the next thing you are expecting is for me to tell you which ingredients that will be going into the mix, right? WRONG.
This is no cookery lesson, but the horrific realities of the lives of so many young girls whose private parts have been mutilated in the name of tradition in some African societies. This barbaric action is taken to stop promiscuity and protect honour as uncut girls are deemed too sexual. No anesthesia or pain killers are administered. The pain is in fact meant to be felt as an added deterrent. This is the stark reality of life for so many females in 2012.
An estimate according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, shows that around 3 million young girls a year worldwide, especially in Africa will be circumcised. Let’s dig deeper.
In certain rural parts of East, West, North & Southern Africa the circumcision / infibulation – is deemed a rite of passage and normally undertaken by the female elder of the family (no medical training needed - not that I endorse it). The clitoris or the outer lips of the vagina is cut off with a sharpened knife or blade. Thoughts of sterilisation, hygiene and possible infection are not paramount as the main aim is to ‘maim’ the girl for life. The word ‘maim’ and it’s connotations within this context is not out of place, as these females who carry out the actual act itself themselves have been victims of forced genital circumcision, and they must know first-hand the horrific debilitating life consequences of the act. Yet they ignore the elephant in the room and themselves spearhead the circumcision rites. The practice is common place
Sara Nason’s [Impact Award Finalist – Rory Peck Awards] recent channel 4 (UK Terrestrial) documentary explored the dangerous practice and the recent rebelling by young girls that were about to be subjected to it. General belief within some of these societies is that - it is the cut that transforms the girls into women (bear it in mind that some of these girls are as young as 7 or younger.) The ceremonial cutting is practiced by Africans of many different religious faiths.
We met with a victim who did not wish to be named that had endured genital circumcision.
"I was only 8 years of age when my father’s elder sister came to visit. There was talk weeks before that she would be coming and that I would soon be made a real woman. The ceremony itself was celebrated, but the actual act was only murmured about in whispers – almost like it was something that was revered. Refusing to follow the tradition by some families comes at a high price, their daughters are essentially seen as a loose, unclean and definitely not marriage material."
"The day I was circumcised till this day is a painful blur. I have never experienced pain like it in. I was bedridden for 15 days before I was able to walk properly, and till this day I am still suffering the effects. My first husband left me as he could not bear my constant tears in the bedroom and also the fact that I was constantly having infections did not help matters. Circumcision essentially took away my life and I have never ever felt like a real woman."
This is a true betrayal of the innocence of childhood (girls as young as 5years are affected) and it is estimated worldwide that around 100 million girls and women have been through the process of circumcision and some sadly are still suffering the physical and psychological consequences in their everyday lives.
Governments and the UN National Assembly could do so much more to lend a voice to this unspoken rape and brutality. Genital mutilation is a crime against humanity. As a mother of 2, whilst researching this story, I came across so many stories that I could only describe with one word “inhumane”. How a mother can allow her child to endure such unnecessary and meaningless pain defies logic. The argument that illiteracy contributes to this long held tradition holds no water with me. Simply put, if you’ve gone through such a nightmare yourself, why inflict it on a loved one?
- Some females die of shock or excess bleeding as a result
- Majority suffer from frequent vaginal infections
- Shockingly some will need to be cut open by their husbands for intercourse
- During labour some of these women still need to be cut open ‘again’ to allow the baby safe passage into life and save theirs too.
- They are then stitched back again - Is this life?