Thursday, February 7, 2008

“Two Million Victims of Female Genital Mutilation in Cameroon”

I am befuddled to see the above heading. It is incongruous to use the appellation Female Genital Mutilation because it makes the woman a victim; meanwhile, nothing is mutilated per se but pruned or trimmed. Should we then say male genital mutilation too since the foreskin is cut-off? In cultures adhering to this practice they based their argument on their culture and the longevity of the practice. In most of these cultures, it is synonymous to the woman who goes and takes baptism in the 18th Century for salvation.

When Ya’Adua the current president of Nigeria was governor of Katsina State, he pushed for Sharia law where he confirmed female circumcision as a custom of the people to fulfill fertility rites. Considering that every culture is equanimous; therefore, impugning it is tantamount to ethnocentrism. That means; we are saying that there is a culture that is better than others. The practicing culture has neither solicited foreign assistance to eradicate it nor do they condemn it. Rather, it is the outsiders who have changed the name from Female Circumcision to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Should we then call plastic surgery human mutilation?

Why should circumcision create victims? Some people have questioned circumcision, especially female circumcision. In July 11, 2007, the British Metropolitan police was offering £20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone practicing Female Genital Mutilation. Waris Dirie: Somali-born model acknowledged she was a victim. Indeed, the practice is done mostly in Muslim countries especially North Africa. Opponents argue that male circumcision has both esthetic and health benefits, but the female has only satisfaction reduction.

Research found in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology revealed that Female Genital Mutilation does not reduce sexual pleasure; on the contrary, it increases. If this was true, then the British women in whose country this research came out would have been lining up for Female Genital Mutilation since they have prostitution as a taxable profession. Their failure to pursue “happiness” portrays a tailor-made research to destroy the African culture.

Those considering male circumcision on health grounds realize that their arguments are untenable because the ancient Egyptians who did not circumcise, lived longer than the males who get circumcision now. If female circumcision is unhealthy, why was the mortality rate amongst its adherents not higher than the rate of those who are not circumcised? Same with the female circumcision that was done in those days, the mortality rate today on other female related diseases outweigh the one during the ancient days where female circumcision took place. Egypt has 78% of female circumcision, but they are still healthy as compared to those in Sudan. Could it not be said that Sudan is due to other factors like war, famine and other man made disasters?

Perhaps people should be informed that this act is done by voluntary parents who at the time feel that it is the best choice for their beloved daughters. No parent was forced. If the child is forced, and it becomes a bad thing, do we then condemn those parents who force their kids to take medicine which later gives them allergies? Isn’t it because they believed the medicine will heal their child that they forced the child to take it? Since we live in a democratic world, the people should be left to deal with their choices. It is strange because no one condemns plastic surgery in the West with people butchering themselves just to look good. Those who do that, do so on basis of their culture. The same thing done in Africa is called  Female Genital Mutilation.

Women in the West shave the hair off their hands and legs, even their armpits but consider the African girls who do not do that as nasty. You can moon raise your armpit and do not take a shower and still be dirty; meanwhile, the lady who does not shave but takes a good shower stays clean. Here again is cultural. Why then should any culture’s component be regarded inferior? How many times have African cultures asked Westerners to modify their cultures?

Do Africans need the Westerner to sensitize them against the harms of female circumcision? One of the arguments is that the practitioners carrying the circumcision may not be trained. They are traditional practitioners who are regarded as local doctors with skills trained to do that. They have done that to many girls and very few died. The rate of hospital dead in the West on brain and other related surgeries are more than those from Female Genital Circumcision. Does it mean that because there are fatalities during heart surgeries in the US all heart surgeons are not qualified and heart surgery should be prohibited? This practice was time immemorial and the colonizers met it and left it. If it was that bad a practice, why did they not raise an objection during that time when they had the power, plundering the resources?

The objection to Female Genital Circumcision is more a racist affair rather than an advocacy for the welfare of African women and children. If the same practice was done in the West, it would be plastic surgery. They should be more concerned with their women butchering their breasts off and inflating their breasts in the name of plastic surgery and beauty. They should be more concerned with abortion clinics and execution chambers they have. Why worry about the African sick when you have dead bodies littered all over?

It should be noted that the same arguments against female circumcision were done for male circumcision and that most Asians do not even circumcise their males. Since domination is the property of the powerful thus the powerful western nations are imposing their views and cultures on less powerful African and Asian countries with unfounded theories and research.

Until then, let those who want to be circumcised do so.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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