Do you know what FGM is? The world will know it in 4 days in Davos!


It is a long post, but it does worth spending some time to learn more about this global issue.

Female genital mutilation (FMG) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external famela genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. (Source: The World Health Organisation)

FGM is recognized internternationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and costitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. An estimated three million girls and women are multilated every year.

“It have always done it this way. I see no reasons why we should change things.” Why? Because he is a man? He does not suffer the pain and the consequences…

“This is our tradition and is given us by God. It is from God”

Do you know the Monkey Story?

Start with a cage containing five monkeys.

Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it.

Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water.

Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, turn off the cold water.

Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.

The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs.

To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.

After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one.

The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked.

The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Again, replace a third original monkey with a new one.

The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well.

Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys that have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.

Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.

Why not?

Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been around here.

Julia Lalla-Maharajh submitted her video to The YouTube Davos Debate “Your pitch to the world”.

A few days ago her video was selected as the winner:

Based in London, Julia Lalla-Maharajh was working with VSO as an advocacy adviser in Ethiopia when she came across female genital mutilation (FGM) firsthand and embarked on her quest to campaign against it. She has set up “End FGM Now” which aims to raise awareness, increase funding and work with communities that practise FGM, to eradicate it.

Would like to be tuned? Access: End FGM Now

Where is FGM practised?

The majority of cases of FGM are carried out in 28 African countries. In some countries, (e.g. Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan), prevalence rates can be as high as 98 per cent. In other countries, such as Nigeria, Kenya, Togo and Senegal, the prevalence rates vary between 20 and 50 per cent. It is more accurate however, to view FGM as being practised by specific ethnic groups, rather than by a whole country, as communities practising FGM straddle national boundaries. FGM takes place in parts of the Middle East, i.e. in Yemen, Oman, Iraqi Kurdistan, amongst some Bedouin women in Israel, and was also practised by the Ethiopian Jews, and it is unclear whether they continue with the practice now that they are settled in Israel. FGM is also practised among Bohra Muslim populations in parts of India and Pakistan, and amongst Muslim populations in Malaysia and Indonesia.

As a result of immigration and refugee movements, FGM is now being practiced by ethnic minority populations in other parts of the world, such as USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand (ForwardUK).

Consequences of FGM

Depending on the degree of mutilation, FGM can have a number of short-term health implications:

  1. severe pain and shock
  2. infection
  3. urine retention
  4. injury to adjacent tissues
  5. immediate fatal haemorrhaging

Long-term implications can entail:

  1. extensive damage of the external reproductive system
  2. uterus, vaginal and pelvic infections
  3. cysts and neuromas
  4. increased risk of Vesico Vaginal Fistula
  5. complications in pregnancy and child birth
  6. psychological damage
  7. sexual dysfunction
  8. difficulties in menstruation

In addition to these health consequences there are considerable psycho-sexual, psychological and social consequences of FGM (ForwardUK).

The roots of FGM are complex and numerous; indeed, it has not been exactly possible to determine when or where the tradition of FGM originated.

The justifications given for the practise are multiple and reflect the ideological and historical situation of the societies in which it has developed. Reasons cited generally relate to tradition, power inequalities and the ensuing compliance of women to the dictates of their communities.

Reasons include:

  1. custom and tradition
  2. religion; in the mistaken belief that it is a religious requirement
  3. preservation of virginity/chastity
  4. social acceptance, especially for marriage
  5. hygiene and cleanliness
  6. increasing sexual pleasure for the male
  7. family honour
  8. a sense of belonging to the group and conversely the fear of social exclusion
  9. enhancing fertility

“Many women believe that FGM is necessary to ensure acceptance by their community; they are unaware that FGM is not practised in most of the world(ForwardUK).

More videos: Help end FGM, FGM (this video has to be watched at YouTube),

“The Cut” (trailer), a movie that brings this issue to the world. “It is time to question why”. Watch this interview: Part 1 and Part 2. Amnesty’s video about FGM.

Further information: World Health Organisation, FGM.

Tradition over human rights? Lack of information/education?

You can contribute by spreading the word.

Raise awareness of this issue!!!

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