Throughout the world, there are many human rights issues that we have heard about and people have called attention to and even solved. One issue that is not as common for people to learn about, however, is the act of female genital cutting.
Especially for older generations, female genital cutting is viewed as a rite of passage for many young girls and a cultural practice that all young girls must undergo. However, despite the fact that people argue for its cultural merits, it is a major human rights violation.
The process is supposed to promote chastity in young girls and women and therefore has its origins rooted deeply in sexist practices. Once the woman gets married, during both her wedding night and during childbirth, she is essentially cut open. Many proponents of female genital cutting say that it “demasculinizes” a woman by removing her external genitalia.
Female genital cutting is performed for completely non-medical reasons and is therefore extremely detrimental to many young girls’ mental health. Many of the girls also do not know what is going on when it happens — they just know that they are in immense pain.
Young girls should not be subject to this horrible practice, wherein a part of their body is essentially burned off simply to please older generations. These girls, no matter where they live in the world, should have complete control over what happens to their bodies. This practice has no business plaguing today’s world.
There are four different categories that female genital cutting may be classified under. The three main types include a clitoridectomy, where the clitoris is partially or completely removed; an excision, where the clitoris is partially or completely removed and the labia minora is also removed; and infibulation, where the labia minora and the labia majora are repositioned with or without affecting the clitoris. The fourth type encompasses all other detrimental procedures that are for non-medical purposes.
This process also has absolutely no medical benefits. Therefore, all of these procedures are often done without any medical professional present. Without any medical professional assisting, there are numerous side effects, such as bleeding, fevers, infections or even death. There are also later risks of secondary procedures having to be performed.
Clearly, female genital cutting is very harmful to girls, yet it is still practiced all around the world. It is a very dangerous practice that threatens the lives of all of the girls and women who have had it happen to them. This practice also promotes inequality, and young girls should not have to suffer through a process as horrifying as this.
When I say that it is practiced worldwide, this includes the U.S. As of April, researchers estimated that about 513,000 girls and women in the U.S. had either experienced female genital cutting or were at risk for it. Although there was a law passed in 1996 that makes performing female genital cutting on anyone younger than 18 a felony, it still occurs.
Worldwide, there are estimates that about 140 million girls and women have experienced female genital cutting as well. Although the United Nations and other organizations are working to stop this practice, it still occurs.
There should be much more awareness to this issue. Millions of girls and women around the world are being violated in the name of obsolete cultural practices that have numerous negative physical and mental health effects. If there is more awareness to this problem, then perhaps it can be stopped.
It is a horrifying practice that harms girls and women worldwide, including within our own country. Regardless of whether or not it is a cultural practice, it can create a plethora of health problems and should be prohibited.
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Anika Veeraraghav is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.