About the Female Genital Mutilation

About the Female Genital Mutilation

The origin of Female Genital Mutilation is obscure. It has however been proven that the practice of excision existed in Egypt in the time of the pharaohs. Certain mummies are excised. And this is why one of the forms of FGM is called ?pharaonic excision?. This fact clearly shows that excision is not related to religion. Unfortunately fundamentalist islamists vehemently maintain that:
·      excision is an Islamic requirement (even though the Koran does not mention it)
·      an unexcised  woman is impure (cannot say her religious prayers)
·      an unexcised woman is sexually insatiable and therefore may have relations with several men (adultery)
·      fighting against excision is fighting against Islam.
·      The fight against MGF is a teaching from western countries.

In addition to these arguments by the Islamite fundamentalists are the arguments by the African traditionalists who maintain that:
·      tradition must remain intact;
·      traditional practices, even those that are harmful (excision, early marriage, nutritional taboos?) are African values that should not be touched;
·      the fight against Female Genital Mutilation is influenced by western countries;
·      an excised woman is more submissive to her husband (which is considered a huge social value)

In fact, Female Genital Mutilation is:
·      a serious violation of human rights. Girls are mutilated without their consent;
·      a violation of bodily security (ablation of the organs: clitoris, labia minora, labia majora ?) with severe consequences to the sexuality and reproduction of women.

a.    Types of FGM
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists four types of FGM.


Type 1 ? Clitoridectomy

The excisor completely removes the clitoris

Type 2 ? Excision

Complete ablation of the clitoris, the labia minora and a section of the labia majora.

Type 3 ? Infibulation (or pharaonic excision)
Complete ablation of the clitoris, the labia minora, the labia majora and suture of the edges. The excisor leaves a small opening to allow urination and menstruation.

This is why, when a marriage takes place, the excisor is brought back to reopen the suture. This same type of incision is done during childbirth, to allow the head of the child to come out. Infibulation is in fact the start of a multiple excision that spans the woman?s sexual life. Infibulation occurs frequently in Guinea.

Type 4 ? Others

?    piercing or cutting of the clitoris and labia,
?    cauterizing (burning) of the clitoris and the surrounding areas,
?    placing corrosive substances and herbs in the vagina.
These types do not exist in Guinea. They are found in Tanzania.

b.    Instruments
Several instruments are used.

·      knife
·      razor blade
·      scissors

The most commonly used instrument is the standard knife, which excisors pass on from mother to daughter, and these instruments are kept under special and septic conditions.

Scissors replaced medication in excision. In fact, they are used by medical and paramedical personnel (midwives, nurses, abortionists?)

Other instruments are used, especially within the framework of type 4: pieces of glass, needles, thorns?  

c.    Areas (where operation is carried out)

·      The bush (in most cases - 80%)
·      river banks,
·      huts
·      health centers

d.    Operators

?    traditional excisors,
?    traditional healers,
?    barbers,
?    traditional midwives,
?    Medical and paramedical personnel (midwives, nurses, abortionists)
In Guinea, excisions are carried out exclusively by women. In other countries (Nigeria, Niger?) the operators are women and men.

It is important to note that the excisor is paid for each excision. With money, chickens, sheep, oxen?  

e.    Procedure
 The girl lies naked on her back. She is immobilized on the ground by several women; the operation is done without anesthesia.

Despite the excruciating pain during the operation, the girl is strictly forbidden to cry. She must prove that she is brave. She must ?honor her family?.

f.     Consequences
·      Immediate consequences
o   excruciating pain (without anesthesia)
o   hemorrhaging
o   acute infections
The transmission of AIDS and the hepatitis B virus is due to the fact that the same instrument is used to perform the operation on several girls. The excision of a girl carrying the AIDS virus or the hepatitis B virus leads to the contamination of all the other girls excised afterwards.
 In cases of severe hemorrhaging the girl can die.

Delayed Consequences

Delayed complications occur under other conditions such as sexual intercourse, pregnancy, childbirth?

o   dermoid cysts
o   menstrual disorders
o   cheloids
o   dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse)
o   frigidity (lack of sensitivity during sexual intercourse)

o   chronic infections of the internal genital organs (uterine tubes,
ovaries...)

o   infertility

o   fistulae and urinary or fecal incontinence

o   The consequences are also serious for the children of excised women. Many children are born with complications. Sometimes, the children die during childbirth.

 Psychological Consequences

FGM causes serious psychological problems for excised women:
o   acute fear before and during the operation traumatizes the girl
o   agitation during initial sexual intercourse (especially for infibulated women)
o   psychological pressure during difficult childbirth
o   intense disappointment in the event of a fistula (abandoned by society)
o   incompatibility with husband due to repeated disappointments during sexual intercourse