In The Spotlight
Established in 2006, the Inter-African Committee USA (or, IAC-USA) is a anonprofit and non-governmental organization dedicated to furthering the rights of immigrant women and girls to freedom from harmful traditional practices of their native countries and cultures, including early forced marnage, female genital mutilation, and other violent and injurious practices, while promoting the adoption of beneficial traditions and rites of passage.
The IAC-USA is part of a network of international organizations in numerous countries, partnering with the United Nations and local entities to raise awareness of the continued predominance of centuries-old harmful practices carried out against African women and children under the guise of culture afid tradition, and to provide assistance to those who have been or are at risk of
Our mission is to promote the rights and well-being of women and children in at-ris immigrant communities by bringing an end to harmful traditional practices through education, support, and encouragement of healthy traditional values.
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.
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.
Several instruments are used.
· razor blade
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,
· health centers
- traditional healers,
- 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?