31 January 2013

Female Genital Mutilation: A Crime against women.

Guest Blog by Abigal Muchecheti, Author and Campaigner Against FGM.

I am writing this article for all the girls around the world who have been genitally mutilated. Culturalists will argue that this subject should be left untouched as it projects and demeans a people’s culture. To such people I have this to say – FGM is a cruel, inhuman practice that not only belittles women but takes away their dignity, and should have no place in any culture.

Having grown up in a culture that had some people follow this practice, I realised how unnecessary the practice was in women’s lives. Rather it brings pain, distress and trauma to its victims. FGM has always been done in secret, but that has never stopped the rest of the community from knowing when it was done. When two of my distant cousins underwent FGM, life was never the same. I am talking about girls who were outgoing, happy with a high likelihood of success in life had circumstances been different. After FGM, the girls became withdrawn and timid. They lost their self esteem and one by one, they dropped out of school for fear of ridicule from classmates who knew of their secret. At that point I questioned this barbaric practice and have never since understood why it is ever deemed necessary.  I realised I had lost friends forever. I still feel the pain that my cousins went through – not direct pain of course but empathy beyond the imagination of most.

Unless you have been there or know someone who has, it’s hard to imagine the piercing pain as the knives slashed through their clitoris. I know, because I saw the bleeding and the long road to healing. I am also aware of some of the lousy explanations given to justify FGM, besides its primary purpose – to arrest or at any rate stifle a woman’s sexual desires. I also know that my cousins, unlike their brothers, never gained anything from the procedure, but were instead condemned to a life of misery. Their lives changed from the moment they went through these ‘rights of passage’.

As a woman and Mother, I am incapable of understanding how anyone could send their child to hell on earth. FGM is simply a way of instilling fear and controlling women and it’s time it stopped! Culture evolves, and it is a crime against humanity to justify a procedure, without any regard for the trauma that it causes, purely because it is traditional. William Ewart Gladstone made himself very unpopular in the Indian subcontinent when he outlawed the practise that required widows to throw themselves on their husbands’ funeral pyre. Who nowadays would say he was wrong?

Charities such as 28 Too Many have set out to stop FGM, through sharing research, best practice tools and advocacy.  As an author, I am also writing to bring FGM to a wider audience.

About the Author:

Abigal Muchecheti was born in Zimbabwe. After graduating from the University of Zimbabwe, she moved to Botswana and then the UK and currently lives in Faringdon. She is also the author of Married to a Devil and is shortly releasing her next book. Besides writing, Abigal works full time, blogs and is actively involved with Charities such as 28 Too Many, that deal with womens’ issues like FGM and Fistula.