TWEET CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: Understanding FGM as Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) – 05.12.2019

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons.  

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies FGM into 4 types. WHO classifies FGM into four categories with subdivisions.

FGM Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (Clitoridectomy). The 2 subdivisions are, FGM Type Ia: removal of the prepuce/clitoral hood (circumcision) and FGM Type Ib: removal of the clitoris with the prepuce

FGM Type II: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision)

The 3 subdivisions are of FGM Type II are; FGM Type IIa: removal of the labia minora only; FGM Type IIb: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; and FGM Type IIc: partial or total removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora

FGM Type III: Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with the creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

The 2 subdivisions are, FGM Type IIIa: removal and a positioning the labia minora with or without excision of the clitoris; and FGM Type IIIb: removal and a positioning the labia majora with or without excision of the clitoris

Type 4 Unclassified; refers to all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, including cauterization, pulling, incision, piercing, pricking, and scrapping for non-medical reasons.

It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with or at risk of suffering the associated negative health consequences of FGM

Every year 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to the potential negative health consequences of this harmful practice.

FGM has no known health benefits, and those girls and women who have undergone the procedure are at great risk of suffering from its complications throughout their lives.  

The procedure of FGM is painful and traumatic, and is often performed under unsterile conditions by a traditional practitioner who has little knowledge of female anatomy or how to manage possible adverse events.  

Moreover, the removal of or damage to healthy genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and may cause severe immediate and long-term negative health consequences.  

The practice of FGM is prevalent in 30 countries in Africa and in a few countries in Asia and the Middle East, but also present across the globe due to international migration  

FGM practice is deeply rooted in a strong cultural and social framework. It is endorsed by the practicing community and is supported by loving parents who believe that undergoing FGM is in the best interest of their daughter.  

The beliefs sustaining the practice of FGM vary greatly from one community to another, although there are many common themes. However, the primary reason is that it is part of the history and cultural tradition of the community.  

Despite its cultural importance, we need to acknowledge the fact that FGM is a harmful traditional practice that violates the rights of girls and women.  Therefore, FGM has to be eliminated.  

The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths.  

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.

The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. It is also a violation of the right to life when the procedure results in death.

For more information about FGM you can visit http://www.who.int or watch  

Female Genital Mutilation is harmful to women. To cut off the sensitive sexual organ of a girl is to prevents it from performing its functions, a distortion to her womanhood, and an abuse of her fundamental human right

The best way to make a girl to abstain from pre-marital sex is not by cutting her genital, but by educating and mentoring her. Together we can build a nation where there is zero tolerance to female genital mutilation

Girls are well created, and it is unnecessary and irrelevant to cut any part of their bodies. Even if you or any of your family members may not have experienced FGM, you need to speak out against it to discourage others from the practice

As introduced earlier FGM is an act of violence against girls and women, according to the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) which was signed into law in May 2015.The practice of FGM is an offense punishable by law, the VAPP Act protects persons from harmful traditional practices which puts their lives at risk.

Female genital mutilation is an infringement of the rights of women to health, because of the numerous negative results the practice has on the life of survivors.

Survivors of the practice of #FGM have recorded and reported more negative results, while some victims suffer severe bleeding and eventual death, survivors live with both long- and short-term effects.

Uncut young girls and women in communities where it is practiced live in fear of the exercise and struggle with ways to avoid the practice for fear of the negative effects on the life of victims, FGM hence infringes their rights to security.

When girls and women don’t feel safe in their host communities, their actions, relationships and activities in these communities become somewhat restricted.Female genital mutilation thereby infringes on the rights to security of girls and women.

In communities and societies where #FGM is practiced the beliefs and reasons for the practice differs, but overall there are general beliefs in host communities that women are not whole until they are cut. The practice is mostly introduced as some form of cleansing act from sexual promiscuity or an introduction/initiation into ‘womanhood’, in these communities uncut women are mostly perceived as incomplete.

The practice of #FGM infringes on the right to physical integrity in communities, because uncut women and girls are perceived and treated as not being physically whole and worthy.

Passing on the information or belief that the practice of FGM is what qualifies women and girls to be accepted as worthy and completely takes away the physical integrity of uncut women and girls in such communities, this is the backbone of FGM in most places where it is practiced.

The practice of #FGM also encroaches on the social rights of girls and women, in host communities where it is practiced uncut women are perceived as incomplete girls or women…And as a result they are sometimes treated as belonging to a lower social class or standard than other women who have been cut.

In some societies, girls and women who refuse to undergo the practice are stigmatized and treated as being unclean or sexually uncontrollable.

FGM alters the rights of girls and women in more ways than one, and has an overall higher negative effect, and no positive results has resulted from years of the practice.

FGM has no positive effects, and when the reasons for it’s existence are weighed against the effects, the reality is that uncut women have safer births and better sexual health and experience.

The practice is then seen for what it really is. An act designed to control the sexual and reproductive life of women and girls.The VAPP act  ensures the protection of the life of girls and women against FGM.  #16DaysActivism

Perpetrators of the act are termed as violators, and survivors are referred to as victims. Although there are certain factors hindering the implementation of the VAPP act in Nigeria causing a drawback on the eventual abandonment of the practice, it doesn’t change the fact that FGM is indeed an act of violence against girls and women.

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