Aug 30, 2010

Cut my clitoris, please!

A campaign poster against FGM
So there I was, giving training at one of those sexuality education sessions. It was an introductory session, I was trying to be careful as possible as these young people are going to publicly discuss sexuality-related issues for the first time in their lives (in a health context of course)!

I came up with an information sharing game, to make it easier for them to participate and learn. I prepared a set of statements in the form of scientific facts. Then, I split each statement into two parts and distributed all the parts to the trainees, then asked them to find the other half of the statement they have.

One of the statements said: “Female genital cutting (FGM) could lead to bleeding, infertility, and loss of sexual appetite (berood ginsi).” After each of them found his/her matching half of the statement, I asked each of them to read the statement out loud. One of the girls said it out loud, but after she did, she shook her head and said “I’m not convinced, how can this happen?”

I went on explaining how the conditions and the delicacy of this surgery could lead to such fate. I also explained the function of the clitoris and how its cutting leads to loss of sexual desire.

“But isn’t this [loss of sexual desire] better to happen for women?” exclaimed the girl. I was surprised to be honest, even though I should have expected it, I guess it surprises me every time, especially when this kind of comment comes from a girl/woman! I think her only excuse is that she most probably haven’t started a sexual life yet, and she would know it better first hand and she wouldn’t have her children undergo the same awful procedure!

FGM prevalence in Africa

However, one shouldn’t be exactly surprised with this kind of FGM apologia in Egypt. The practice is indeed widely prevalent with shocking numbers. Egypt Demographic and Health Survey in 2008 demonstrates that the prevalence among women aged 15 to 49 is 91%. Although the practice seems to be declining among the younger generation, the phenomenon is widespread. With such rates, then definitely majority of the community supports it and have good reasons behind it. 

I am going to delve into it more in the upcoming post. Wait for Part II of this post! 


7 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to learning more in Part II.

    -Eddie

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  2. Thanks for this post... I would like to comment that in many cases FGM is considered a type of violence practiced from women against women...

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  3. yea its a series of ignorant generations they never learn or affect by any thing but their traditions... it need ages to educate those people and when u`r trying so, u look like an alien !! me gloomy voice i know but this is the naked true

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  4. I totally understand why u got shocked, i guess we ll always get shocked when we find females performing the most disgusting patriarchal procedures, but thumbs up for ur countinous efforts.

    best

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  5. What year are those figures from? Am I just naive (I'm in expat community in the West) or do they reflect % of women who have been mutilated rather than % of young girls having this done?

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  6. This study means that 91 out of every 100 woman in the age between 15 to 49 years old has been mutilated.

    This result was obtained through a comprehensive survey conducted in 2008.

    The numbers are declining but it is still widespread.

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  7. Thanks for brining this topic up and writing about it so well. You are the first expert I have come across on this sensitive topic. I am married to a man from Luxor. I am English. He was previously married and has a beautiful 2 year old daughter. His marriage only lasted 30 days partly due to the fact that his wife has had this operation. He is totally and utterly opposed to it but informed me that every single Muslim girl in Luxor still has to have this operation at the age of 13. Parents sign a document negating responsibility for the doctor carrying it out. He has informed his wife's family in the strongest terms that they are not to cut his daughter but this is still a worry for both me and him as they seem pretty traditional and once it is done there is no going back. Please can you tell me if action is being taken in that part of Egypt to stop this? Or if there is anything more we can do to prevent this happening? I am deeply worried about it. s.wilton@live.com

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