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Among individuals and groups opposed to the mutilation, it is seen as a method of reducing the sexual response of women in order to make them less likely to become sexually active before marriage or to seek an extra-marital affair after marriage.
To some who promote the operation, it is seen as a cultural requirement that has health benefits and makes women more physically beautiful. The rest of the world does not share these views.
The operation is forced on approximately 6,000 girls per day, worldwide -about one every 15 seconds. Since FGM is practiced when the girls are young, they are unable to give their informed consent.
FGM: A cultural not a religious practice...
This mutilating operation is often associated mainly with the religion of Islam.
This is incorrect. FGM is primarily a social practice, not a religious one.
Female genital mutilation predated Islam. It originated in Africa and remains
today a mainly African cultural practice. Some indicators of this are:
It is widely practiced in countries where the predominant religion is Christianity: Examples are Ethiopia and Kenya.
In multi-faith countries, it is often forced on girls whose families follow all faiths: Animism religions, Christianity, and Islam.
For example, it is frequently practiced among both Muslims, Christians and Animists in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
FGM was once practiced by Ethiopian Jews (a.k.a. Beta Israel; formerly known by the derogatory term "Falashas").
This practiced was apparently discontinued some time ago. A pediatrician who works in the Beta Israel community claims that they no do not practice FGM in Israel. Also, their daughters who were born in Ethiopia were not mutilated.
FGM has spread to countries in or near Africa (e.g. Egypt) which are Muslim.
But FGM is rare or nonexistent in many other Muslim countries. Examples are Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. Also, It is not done in the Maghreb countries of Northwest Africa.
FGM is only occasionally found in Indonesia and other predominately Muslim countries in Asia.
One of the motivations for this essay is the misperception by many people that the practice is a religious one. That belief has led to unjustified religious intolerance against Muslims.
Sunna circumcision in which the prepuce (the clitoral covering) is removed, along with part or all of the clitoris. This is called Clitoridectomy, “Sunna”, meaning removal of the clitoris in the tradition of the Prophet Mohammed.
It is called "Sunna Kashfa" (Open Sunna) in Sudan. This is found most commonly in West African countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal.
Excision: The entire clitoris and prepuce are removed, along with all or part of the labia minora.
This is called "Sunna Magatia" (Closed Sunna) in Sudan. It is most commonly found in Burkina Faso and Sudan.
Infibulation (a.k.a. Pharaonic circumcision.) This involves removal of the clitoris and prepuce, followed by sewing up of the vulva. A small opening is left to allow urine and menstrual blood to pass.
A second operation is done later in life to reverse some of the damage.
In some cultures, her husband cuts the woman open on their wedding night with a double-edged dagger. She may be sewn up again if her husband leaves on a long trip.
This is often referred to as Pharaonic or Sudanese circumcision. It is most commonly practices in Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Mali, Somalia and Sudan.
There are also various other practices, including:
• Stretching of the clitoris and/or labia,
• Burning of the clitoris and adjacent tissues by cauterization,
• Scraping of the vaginal orifice,
• Cutting the vagina,
• Placing corrosive substances or herbs in the vaginal in order to tighten it,
• And so forth … Because of poverty and lack of medical facilities, the procedure is frequently done under less than hygienic conditions, often by non-medically trained personnel, and usually without anesthesia. Razor blades, knives or scissors are usually the instruments used.
In the rural Mossi areas of Burkina Faso, group female circumcisions are scheduled every three years in many villages.
Girls aged from five to eight are assembled by their mothers into groups of up to twenty.
The circumcision "uses a knife-like instrument, the barga, reserved specifically for this purpose; after each operation she simply wipes the knife on a piece of cloth, sometimes rinsing it in water first."
In some areas of Africa, FGM is delayed until two months before a woman gives birth. This practice is based on the belief that the baby will die if she/he comes into contact with their mother's clitoris during birth.
We are unaware of any medical evidence to support this belief.
Other areas perform FGM on infants before their first birthday, or in adolescence.
Side effects of the operation can include: hemorrhage, shock, painful scars, keloid formation, labial adherences, clitoral cysts, chronic urinary infection, and chronic pelvic infections.
Later in life, it can cause kidney stones, sterility, sexual dysfunction, depression, and various gynecological and obstetric problems.
In which countries is it practiced?
Unfortunately, few statistical studies have been made; only rough estimates are available of the frequency with which FGM is performed.
In some countries, the practice is near universal.
One source estimates that 90% or more of the girls in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sudan (North) have been mutilated.
The same source indicates that over 50% of the girls in Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Togo have been operated on.
The FGM Education and Networking Project maintains a regularly updated list of countries, population groups, and the types of operation performed.
There are over 30 million mutilated women currently living in Nigeria, and about 24 million in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Various groups estimate that from 114 to 130 million women worldwide have had the operation.
FGM is outlawed in some countries where it had been widely practiced, such as Kenya and Senegal. It is criminalized in some Western countries, where it is normally practiced only by a small number of recent immigrants.
The procedure has been banned in several African nations, including Burkina Faso, Djibouti, the Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, and Togo.
Why it is Done?
The justification for the operation appears to be largely grounded in a desire to terminate or reduce feelings of sexual arousal in women so that they will be much less likely to engage in pre-marital intercourse or adultery.
The clitoris holds a massive number of nerve endings, and generates feelings of sexual arousal when stimulated.
Parents in those cultures where FGM is common often feel that it is the only way to guarantee that their girl children will remain "pure" until marriage.
This belief is so strong that it can overcome the dangers to the girls: some do not survive the blood loss during the operation; others die from infection; most suffer life-long complications.
Uncircumcised women in countries where FGM is normally performed have difficulty finding a marriage partner. Men typically prefer a circumcised wife because they are considered more likely to be faithful.
Other claims in support of FGM are:
• The clitoris is dangerous and must be removed for health reasons.
• Some believe that it is a poisonous organ, that can cause a man to sicken or die if contacted by a man's penis.
• Others believe that men can become impotent by contacting a clitoris, or that a baby will be hydrocephalic (born with excess cranial fluid) if its head contacts the clitoris during birth.
• Some believe that the milk of the mother will become poisonous if her clitoris touches the baby during childbirth.
• Bad genital odors can only be eliminated by removing the clitoris and labia minora.
• FGM prevents vaginal cancer.
• An unmodified clitoris can lead to masturbation or lesbianism.
• FGM prevents nervousness from developing in girls and women.
• FGM prevents the face from turning yellow.
• FGM makes a woman's face more beautiful.
• If FGM is not done, older men may not be able to match their wives' sex drive and may have to resort to illegal stimulating drugs.
• An intact clitoris generates sexual arousal in women which can cause neuroses if repressed.
These claims appear to have little or no support outside of countries where FGM is common.
The fear of AIDS has been used by both sides of this issue.
Shiek Badri stated in 1997-JUN: "Those who are not circumcised get AIDS easily" But opponents to the practice note that AIDS is spread by unhygienic practices normally present during the procedure itself.
Heavenly Father, in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I come before Your Throne to ask for Your forgiveness, grace and mercy for the sin of worshipping my ancestors – ancestors of my family, my combined family via marriage, as well as ancestors of my entire clan.
Your Word clearly teaches us that we are not to worship any other god besides You, we are not consult any evil spirits, and we were not to make any contact with the dead.
Exodus 20:3 “3 You shall have no other gods before or besides Me.” Deuteronomy 18:10-11 “10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, or who uses divination, or is a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, 11 Or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer.” Father, I bring before You the sins of my forefathers and my own sins because we are guilty for disobeying Your commandments.
Lord, I confess for deifying any family member, parent or grandparent in the Almighty Name of Jesus.
I ask Your forgiveness for imploring them for any provision, protection and guidance in Jesus Name.
In the Name of Jesus I now renounce and reject all demonic provision, protection and guidance that was given to me. I now take authority over every demonic spirit, every familiar spirit, and every dead human spirit assigned to me when I made these demonic covenants with the spirits of the dead/ancestral spirits.
I ask Your forgiveness for allowing myself to form my identity, authority and destiny by worshipping these false deities.
Father, in Jesus Name, I ask Your forgiveness for every ritual and ceremony
that I partook of to honour and appease my ancestors:
I also confess and repent for seeking any help from a witch-doctor for deliverance from sickness, curses, financial problems, love problems, and so forth.
I reject and renounce all the help I have ever received from any witch-doctor in the Almighty Name of Jesus.
I ask Your forgiveness for any incisions to any flesh for protection from evil that I received from any witch-doctor in the Name of Jesus. I ask Your forgiveness for consulting any songoma for answers from my ancestors with regards to important decisions.
In the Name of Jesus I now renounce and reject every demonic word of guidance and direction that I received through any songoma who acted as a medium through whom my so-called ancestors channeled.
Father, in Jesus Name, I ask Your forgiveness for honouring my ancestors and, believing they reside under the ground, I believed that the blood of a slaughtered animal must be spilled on the ground (Xhosa – palala igazi) and then covered up afterwards.
I ask Your forgiveness for honoring my ancestors by offering them ceremonial beer, (Xhosa – imqombothi) and spilling it on the ground for them.
I ask Your forgiveness for even placing food on the ground for them and I cancel all honor that I have ever given to them, in the powerful Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I ask Your forgiveness for defiling and placing a curse on the earth in Jesus Name.
Heavenly Father, I ask Your forgiveness for partaking in every funeral ritual and for believing that my ancestors had to be implored with the spilled blood of animal sacrifices so that they would accept the deceased into their realm.
Forgive me for believing that if the ancestors were appeased, they would provide guidance for the deceased so that the deceased can also graduate to becoming an ancestor.
This belief is totally unbiblical as Your Word says that You are Lord over the dead and the living and that it is appointed for man to die once and after this the judgment.
Hebrews 9:27 “27 And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment,” Forgive me, Lord, for grieving You by believing these lies. Forgive me for partaking in the ceremony after the mourning period and believing the songoma’s verdict when he enquired of the ancestors about the status of the deceased – whether the deceased had become an ancestor or not.
Forgive me for proving my belief in the ancestors and songoma’s verdict by wearing the mourning clothes. I take mourning clothes off … Common Elements In All African Ceremonies Father, I ask Your forgiveness for participating in ceremonies and rituals that honored the ancestors for their provision and/or appeased them for safekeeping.
Father, forgive me for every animal that I slaughtered/ had slaughtered for the blood to be spilled into the ground. Name the animal _____________________ (sheep, goat, cow, and so forth).
Father forgive me for every time I was involved in giving beer brewed and believing that the outcome of the fermentation was a sign from the ancestors’ approval of the ceremony or not.