Uncovering Myths Behind Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting, is a traditional practice involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Although this procedure is widely practiced in some parts of the world, it does not have any health benefits and can lead to serious physical and psychological harm for those subjected to it.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is an ancient practice that has been perpetrated on over 4 million women and girls around the world, primarily across parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Despite its long history and wide reach, much of the information about FGM remains shrouded in myths and misunderstandings about its origin, culture, ritual purpose, and health effects.

Some of these myths about female genital mutilation include:

  • FGM is a normal procedure.
  • Only teenagers are made to go through the surgery, as it is seen as a rite of passage.
  • The girls understand and willingly put themselves down to undergo the procedure.
  • It’s not that common, especially in this time and age.
  • The procedure is performed strictly by medical personnel.
  • If the surgery is performed correctly, there won’t be any cause for alarm since the damage is only temporary.
  • The procedure can be carried out in a way that does not harm girls.
  • The practice is backed up by religion.
  • FGM is carried out for health reasons.
  • It only happens in developing countries.

The Reasons for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

The reasons behind the prevalence of female genital mutilation are complex and multi-faceted. Commonly given explanations include religious, cultural, social, and economic influences. These factors vary from one region to another; some are primarily based on tradition, while others are based on intrinsic ideologies linked to gender identity or power dynamics within families or communities.

  • Religious attitudes towards FGM have significant implications for the way it is carried out and perceived by the individuals concerned. Although this practice predates any of the major contemporary religions, some instances of self-proclaimed “religious” justification exist.
  • Cultural explanations abound in terms of why Female Genital Mutilation persists: when considered within their corresponding cultures, FGM signifies an initiation into adulthood for unmarried girls or women who have reached marriageable age; others claim it gives them greater status, showing them to be marriageable assets or bestowing upon them protection from premarital pregnancies; still, others maintain that it ensures virginity before marriage, thus conferring greater rental prospects for brides deemed pure before matrimony (Best & Dahl 1993).
  • Economic incentives may play into why this practice continues: circumcisers can sometimes make a good living through actions undertaken in villages due to a lack of government oversight and regulation on their activities, as well as a lack of access to accurate information and education regarding the potential risks associated with FGM.

The Fight Against Female Genital Mutilation

In recent decades, the issue has come to the forefront of global discourse due to its prevalence in many countries. As awareness of FGM grows, more people are joining the fight against this practice by engaging in conversations about it, dedicating resources towards its prevention, providing support for survivors, and pushing for legal reforms.

This is an especially challenging fight as it entails untangling a web of false beliefs surrounding female sexuality; myths that have been perpetuated within communities across generations.

To confront these issues head-on,

  • Organizations working against FGM must strive to uncover the discrepancies between cultural norms and scientific evidence regarding female health. This means coming up with creative ways to inform people about what can replace traditional practices such as spiritual counseling and non-invasive body art adornment or rituals.
  • Organizations must also cultivate meaningful dialogue between older generations that may view FGM as necessary for honor or purity reasons and younger generations that are aware of how harmful this practice is; emphasizing that FGM is illegal in many countries and calling attention to the physical and psychological damage it causes.
  • We must encourage open dialogue between communities and strive to create an environment where FGM can be discussed without judgment so that attitudes can begin to shift towards accepting those whose bodies were subjected to FGM.
  • We must also emphasize educating communities about the risks associated with FGM so that people understand the long-term effects it can have on women’s physical and psychological health. By doing this, we can start to break down some of the misconceptions and move towards a future where more female empowerment is achieved by ignoring myths associated with FGM.
  • The fight against female genital mutilation requires action from a variety of sectors as well as solidarity from both men and women who understand its implications on a global scale.

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