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Female Genital Mutilation

Mariam Alkazal

Wayne State



Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) refers to a traditional practice which entails external genitals being cut or removed for nonmedical reasons. It is mainly carried out in community cultures where there is the existence of patriarchal social structures. It is done as community rituals because those who carry it linked it with positive moral values and others believe that it is a rite of passage (Momoh, 2017). However, FGM has adverse effects on women such as childbirths complications, anemia due to bleeding and painful sexual intercourse. Other mental effects are depression and anxiety, disturbances among children and loss of trust on the caregivers. Recent studies indicate that most cases of FGM are found in rural areas where some communities carry it as part of their culture. Most of the women who have gone through FGM have challenges of bleeding and experiencing excess pain. It is a torture to women because the pain can persist for a long period of time.

Reasons as to why some communities carry FGM

The communities believe that FGM brings chastity among girls and assist them in avoiding shame. They linked with positive moral values. It is used to make girls abstain from pre-marital sex and ensure that they do not bring shame to the family by getting a child before marriage. They go to the extent of sealing the vagina of the girl to make sure that she cannot engage in pre-marital sex. The community condemns girls giving birth before marriage and FGM is taken as a way of making sure that there is no child born before marriage. It is a way used by those communities to curb the sexual feeling of the women and ensure that they do not misbehave (Arora & Jacobs, 2016). Similarly, it is carried as a rite of passage. These communities who carry out FGM believe that a girl cannot become a woman unless circumcision is done. It shows that a girl had transitioned into a woman and she is expected to behave like a woman and not a girl. The culture shows that a girl has become a woman and is able to carry out the role of a mother and a wife. During FGM, the community is able to share a common problem which it experience hence the time serves as an opportunity for networking and getting peer group information. During the rite of passage process, other girls are encouraged to undergo the same process so that they can become good women in society.

Similarly, the community cultures who carry out FGM believe that a girl will be able to get married after undergoing the process. Most of the communities who practice it value virginity of a girl so much as well as FGM. The girls are sealed during this FGM process and most of the men will not marry women who have not undergone it. In polygamous communities, it is even worse because women who are married before circumcision, they have to undergo it because of fear of being despised (Abdulcadir, Rodriguez & Say, 2015). If someone comes from a community that does not practice FGM and is married to a community culture that practice FGM, she has to be undergoing it before being accepted by the members of the family. Women who have undergone FMG mutilation have a social standing in those communities. They are viewed to be more superior and able to make decisions on their own. Genitally mutilated women are more respected in society compared to those who have not undergone it. Therefore, the social standing linked with female circumcision makes many girls to undergo it. There are also other circumstances where FGM is carried out for an economic purpose. Girls who undergo circumcision are given some incentives that are used in supplementing incomes of the family. The financial benefits that are associated with it make some families be tempted to carry it.

Physical effects of FGM

The girls experience a lot of pain during genital mutilation which can be completely or partially done. The pain they experience can persist for a long period of time since the process is carried out without a medical specialist. The pain can continue for weeks and even months. There are other incidences where women who experience chronic pain suffer from pelvic infection, leading to the development of genital ulcers and abscesses. Other problem could be excessive scar formation tissue and reproductive system infections. Some of the women who undergo FGM suffer from menstrual and urinary problems. After sealing is done to prevent women from undergoing pre-marital sex, the later surgery has to take place so that the vagina is opened. It causes more pain on the women and they experience sexual intercourse that is painful. After infibulations are when sexual intercourse can occur and this is done through surgery. The intercourse will be very painful and this can bring complication to both female and male. Another effect of FGM is excessive bleeding (Goldberg et al, 2016). The cutting process is done without medical expert and some of the women have experienced excessive bleeding especially those who have low platelet counts. There are some incidences where bleeding causes death to women. Most of the women who experience FGM have childbirth complications. The scar tissue which forms in some of the genital mutilated women tears down during birth. The tissue has to be sown again in those ethnic communities so that the vagina becomes tight. The process of cutting and stitching of the genital part of the woman can lead to tissue scar which is very painful. Women are genital mutilated have high chances of developing reproductive complications during and after childbirth. Some of these complications end up affecting newborn babies.

Mental effects of FGM

Some of the women who experienced process FGM suffer from Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When women undergo the process, they experience severe pain and some of them end up being depressed. A research which was done shows that women who underwent through FGM experience PTSD people who were subject to child abuse while they were young. They are affected by the chronic pain they experience, they feel that they are guilt, worthlessness and have high chances of committing suicide.

During the circumcision process, the girls are isolated from other people and usually have social isolation. Social isolation makes them feel they are not part of the general society. There are high chances that these women will be distrustful to anybody and are likely to withdraw from other people. Furthermore, FGM also affects spousal relationships because women who have undergone through FGM have reduced sexual desires, experience pain during sexual intercourse and this can make men to sexually dissatisfied (Reisel & Creighton, 2015). During intimacy, women who went the process have the problem of reaching orgasm and may end up being embarrassed or ashamed. When the woman experiences pain during intimacy, she will not enjoy sexual activity as well as her husband. This can make the husband being unfaithful by seeking extramarital affairs. The husband will look for a woman has not undergone the process s that they can be sexually satisfied. Additionally, women who went through the process of FGM will feel betrayed. The procedure is done by a stranger or a closely related family member and girls will feel that they are betrayed by people who are close to them.

A possible solution to FGM

Raise awareness of the negative effects of FMG. Some of the ethnic communities who carry FGM are not aware of the adverse effects of it. Awareness creation and partnership with the resident communities carrying out the practices can make them understand that other communities do not practice it and they are doing very well (Kimani & Shell-Duncan, 2018). The parents are enlightened on the harm of carrying the practices on their children. Moreover, the girls from these communities going to school will enlighten them. When the girls go to school, they will understand that they have their rights and the constitution protects them from undergoing such activity. Another solution is through making use of the local administration properly. When the government and the local administrators collaborate, cases of the practices will be reported to the government. Lastly, set up centers which assist in rescuing girls in those communities. Girls will be able to seek refuge in the centers in case they are forced to undergo through the practice.


FGM has affected many women in the world especially. Women who undergo the practice experience severe pain during and after the procedure, have painful sexual intercourse, suffer from depression and childbirths complication. Cultural communities which carry FGM believe it is a way of making girls abstain from pre-marital sex; it is also a rite of passage and makes a woman gain social standing. FGM can be addressed through awareness creation, setting up rescue centers for women and government collaborating with local administrators.


Abdulcadir, J., Rodriguez, M. I., & Say, L. (2015). Research gaps in the care of women with female genital mutilation: an analysis. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 122(3), 294-303.

Arora, K. S., & Jacobs, A. J. (2016). Female genital alteration: a compromise solution. Journal of medical ethics, 42(3), 148-154.

Goldberg, H., Stupp, P., Okoroh, E., Besera, G., Goodman, D., & Danel, I. (2016). Female genital mutilation/cutting in the United States: updated estimates of women and girls at risk, 2012. Public Health Reports, 131(2), 340-347.

Kimani, S., & Shell-Duncan, B. (2018). Medicalized female genital mutilation/cutting: contentious practices and persistent debates. Current sexual health reports, 10(1), 25-34.

Momoh, C. (2017). Female genital mutilation. The Social Context of Birth (pp. 143-158). Routledge.

Reisel, D., & Creighton, S. M. (2015). Long term health consequences of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Maturitas, 80(1), 48-51.

Shell-Duncan, B., Moore, Z., & Njue, C. (2017). The medicalization of female genital mutilation/cutting: What do the data reveal?.