- Waris Dirie, Somali model, activist
Mental illness, child abuse, discrimination, abortion, drug addiction, rape, gun violence, - the more uncomfortable the subject the less we discuss it- and our silence is killing us-especially women. Earlier this month February 7th was designated "International Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation" day. Many people in North America are unaware of female genital mutilation or FGM. The ritual normally performed on young girls is the cutting away of the clitoris and part of the labia is an extremely vicious and violent act with no pain killers or anesthesia. The mutilation is a clear violation of human rights but because in the past the ritual was considered part of a "cultural" practice some countries still perform FGM or a form or FGM on females as young as one year old. Banned in the United States and the United Kingdom some 200 million women alive today have endured FGM according to recent UNICEFhttp://www.unicef.org/ statistics.
29 countries in Africa and some parts of Asia still perform female genital mutilation as a way to control and completely abolish a young woman's sexuality, ensure virginity before marriage and later to promote sexual pleasure for men only. FGM has no health benefits. In fact the World Health Organization http://www.who.int/en/ has stated the practice causes a greater likelihood of death during childbirth, spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, infection, and severe physical and emotional trauma.
FGM continues to be condemned around the world. It's not only a dangerous, sexist, barbaric ritual performed on young girls but it's a complete violation of human rights to health, security and physical integrity. Globally, the rights of young girls and woman to control their own bodies has been reduced or completely stripped away by communities ruled by men or strict religious dogma. But in order to progress men have to fundamentally change the way they view women. As long as girls and women are seen as less than equal or even less than human they will continue to have their rights and dignity taken away. No more silence. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/
Below is the link to a Guardian.com article which features personal stories of women who have endured female genital mutilation.http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2016/feb/06/fgm-female-genital-mutilation-worst-pain-i-ever-felt-women-somaliland-speak-in-pictures