Monday, July 26, 2010

What Not to do During Summer Vacation: British Girls Genitally Mutilated on Holiday

British Girls Undergo Horror of Genital Mutilation Despite Tough Laws

Female circumcision will be inflicted on up to 2,000 British schoolgirls during the summer holidays – leaving brutal physical and emotional scars. Yet there have been no prosecutions against the practice. Some 140 million women worldwide have been subjected to FGM and an estimated further two million are at risk every year. Most live in 28 African countries.


Like any 12-year-old, Jamelia was excited at the prospect of a plane journey and a long summer holiday in the sun. An avid reader, she had filled her suitcases with books and was reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when her mother came for her. "She said, 'You know it's going to be today?' I didn't know exactly what it would entail but I knew something was going to be cut. I was made to believe it was genuinely part of our religion."

She went on: "I came to the living room and there were loads of women. I later found out it was to hold me down, they bring lots of women to hold the girl down. I thought I was going to be brave so I didn't really need that. I just lay down and I remember looking at the ceiling and staring at the fan.

"I don't remember screaming, I remember the ridiculous amount of pain, I remember the blood everywhere, one of the maids, I actually saw her pick up the bit of flesh that they cut away 'cause she was mopping up the blood. There was blood everywhere."

Some 500 to 2,000 British schoolgirls will be genitally mutilated over the summer holidays. Some will be taken abroad, others will be "cut" or circumcised and sewn closed here in the UK by women already living here or who are flown in and brought to "cutting parties" for a few girls at a time in a cost-saving exercise.

Then the girls will return to their schools and try to get on with their lives, scarred mentally and physically by female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that serves as a social and cultural bonding exercise and, among those who are stitched up, to ensure that chastity can be proved to a future husband.

Even girls who suffer less extreme forms of FGM are unlikely to be promiscuous. One study among Egyptian women found 50% of women who had undergone FGM "endured" rather than enjoyed sex.

Cleanliness, neatness of appearance and the increased sexual pleasure for the man are all motivations for the practice. But the desire to conform to tradition is the most powerful motive. The rite of passage, condemned by many Islamic scholars, predates both the Koran and the Bible and possibly even Judaism, appearing in the 2nd century BC.

Although unable to give consent, many girls are compliant when they have the procedure carried out, believing they will be outcasts if they are not cut. The mothers believe they are doing the best for their daughters. Few have any idea of the lifetime of hurt it can involve or the medical implications.


Female genital mutilation: the facts

■ Female genital mutilation, also known as cutting, is practiced in 28 African countries. The prevalence rate ranges from 98% of girls in Somalia to 5% in Zaire. It also takes place among ethnic groups in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, the US and New Zealand.

■ Until the 1950s FGM was used in England and the US as a "treatment" for lesbianism, masturbation, hysteria, epilepsy and other "female deviances".

■ A survey in Kenya found a fourfold drop in FGM rates among girls who had secondary education.

■ Reasons for the practice include conforming to social norms, enhancing sexual pleasure for men and reducing it for women, cleanliness and chastity.

■ No European country accepts the threat of FGM as a reason for asylum.

■ In Sudan, 20%-25% of female infertility has been linked to FGM complications.

■ In Chad, girls have begun to seek FGM without pressure from their immediate family, believing that to be "sewn up" proves they are virginal and clean. The fashion has led to uncircumcised girls being labelled "dirty".

Full article here

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