Female Genital Mutilation in the Sudan

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the physical destruction of female’s genitals are partially or completely removed or injured.  Certain people (Africans, Middle Easterners, Asians and European immigrants) believe that if a female’s genitals are mutilated they will not have sexual feelings.  Typically, FGM is performed before puberty between infancy and age fifteen.  Currently, there are 125 million living women that have been cut.  FGM is performed strictly for cultural or familial beliefs.  It is a non-medical procedure, and has absolutely no health benefits.  The procedure is carried out by traditional circumcisers, and increasingly health care providers.  Unfortunately, this procedure can lead to serious problems as the female’s age.  They may suffer from severe bleeding, cysts, infertility, complications during childbirth and many more.  Female’s that have been mutilated also suffer from a lot of emotional stress.  They may feel insecure, be embarrassed to talk about their experience, or afraid a male partner will not be understanding.

Internationally people view FGM as discrimination and violation of the human rights of females.  The populations that practice FGM do it for religious, cultural and social reasons.  They consider FGM a normal, necessary part of raising a girl.  Even people who may not fully support the practice continue to participate in order to conform to social pressures.  Others believe that FGM will help women resist sexual acts.

Recently, the world has been making greater efforts to eliminate and outlaw FGM.  The World Health Organization and UN General Assembly have both passed resolutions to eliminate FGM.  Also, numerous females who have had this procedure are stepping forward, talking about their experience and urging others to stop practicing FGM.

Farnoosh Rezaee Ahan takes an anthropological view of FGM, and the issues surrounding it.  She discusses the practice, cultural views and ethical views.  She explains how FGM is considered ethically acceptable in the cultures that practice it, but unethical in cultures that do not.  She describes how anthropologists are divided on the topic.  Some believe that this practice should be abolished and others think that women who want to eliminate FGM are being ethnocentric.  Her main message is that we must find a balance between society’s way of life and the protection of individuals.

Ahan, Farnoosh Rezaee. “Theories on Female Genital Mutilation.” Academia.edu. October 1, 2012. Accessed August 8, 2014. http://www.academia.edu/3277459/Theories_on_Female_Genital_Mutilation.

“Female Genital Mutilation.” WHO. February 1, 2014. Accessed August 8, 2014. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/.

“What Is FGM?” Desert Flower Foundation RSS. Accessed August 8, 2014. http://www.desertflowerfoundation.org/en/what-is-fgm/.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Breanna Ramsay says:

    The experiential approach as well as the applied approach were used a great deal by anthropologists in this article. Understanding what FMG means to the different cultures that practice it as well as what it means to those who do not is key in this article. As you point out in your description of the article, the author does a great job of discussing the practice of Female Genital Mutilation and the cultural and ethical views upon it. The author also brings up how for the people in cultures that practice FGM it is considered ethical, while the people in cultures that do not practice FGM consider it to be unethical.
    There are a great many health concerns that can arise because of FGM for woman that are mentioned in the article. This is why anthropologist can become divided on the subject. Being able to bring up a point like this is what makes anthropology so important and an invaluable field. Anthropologists have contributed to the further understanding of FGM in a cultural and social context. Most people looking at FGM from an outsiders perspective might not realize that in some African countries if a girl is not subject to FGM she is considered” impure”. This has major social consequences in some societies. The example is given in article that a Somalian girl who did not have FGM done was considered a shame to her family which in turn meant she could not marry and her family could not receive a bridal dowry. Understanding both the reasons why FGM is performed as well as why people believe it should not are incredibly important and anthropologists can provide further insight into those reasons.

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