In some countries and cultures, female genital mutilation is considered culturally accepted. The practice varies widely from one culture to the next, but all cultures remove some portion of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
Is Religion Involved in the Practice?
Despite the claim by some cultures that female genital cutting is based on religious teachings, there are no religious texts that support the practice. Some Christians claim the practice is associated with the Muslim religion and some Muslims claim the practice is associated with the Christian religion, but in different parts of Africa where female genital cutting is prominent, both Christians and Muslims using cutting as part of their cultural practices.
Is the Practice Wide-Spread?
It is estimated up to 140 million cuttings have been performed. Due to the wide age range and cultural beliefs regarding the practice, there is no one group of women at risk for cutting. In some cultures infant girls are cut within the first two weeks of life, but other cultures wait until a woman’s first pregnancy to perform the cutting.
Why Cut the Genitalia?
There are various cultural reasons for cutting, but the primary claim is to remove a woman’s sense of pleasure. Without sexual pleasure, women are supposed to be more dedicated to one man and less likely to have multiple sexual partners.
Are All Female Genital Practices the Same?
There are various types of female genital cutting. As the types progress from one to four, all previous procedures are completed with the addition of new procedures.
- Type 1: Clitoral hood and clitoris are removed (in most cases).
- Type 2: Type 1 with the removal of the inner labia.
- Type 3: Type 2 with the removal of outer labia and fusion of the vaginal opening.
- Type 4: Various mutilations to the female genitalia. No strict definition.
Female genital mutilation is a risky, non-medical altering of the female genitalia considered dangerous and abusive to women. The United Nationsattempts to educate the world on the practice every year on February 6th with the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.