As women’s rights are becoming a prominent focus of governments worldwide, traditions and culture may be holding back complete equality in some aspects. Female Genital Cutting is a long-standing tradition in some regions of the world, despite its negative effects on its victims.
FGC is the practice of removing the clitoris and labia for non-medical reasons in girls and young women from birth up until age 15. In some cases, the vagina is also completely closed. Many times, people who have had no medical training at all perform the operation because they must do it in secret in order to avoid the government and laws against the practice.
This custom affects 125 million people worldwide and its effects are becoming increasingly dangerous. It often leads to serious infections or fatal hemorrhaging. After having the procedure, a woman is twice as likely to die while giving birth and it increases the chances of a baby being stillborn.
Only recently has this abusive practice become a priority for governments around the world. It has been recognized as a violation of women’s rights, and therefore means are being pursued to stop the practice.
Plan UK’s Because I Am A Girl campaign is at the forefront of the fight against FGC. Chief Executive Tanya Barron expresses the organization’s concerns about making this a global issue: “we believe we have to foster a general attitude of ending violence against women and girls.”
Events like the Girl Summit in July will promote putting an end to FGC. This event is an Africa-led movement that will “bring together community leaders, faith groups, the public sector and the private sector” to create change in the countries where FGC is most prevalent.
Accomplishing this task will not be easy, as many cultures are very strict about keeping traditions. However, more and more people are recognizing the cruelty of FGC and its lasting effects on girls who are unable to defend themselves. These organizations believe that this is the beginning of the end of FGC.
– Hannah Cleveland
Sources: The Guardian, AllAfrica