Female Genital Mutilation; Women’s Nightmare

Female Genitals Mutilation – I had an intimacy with my friend’s secret , it was not so comfortable for her to let me into her world but she desperately needed answers. She trusted me at that moment to calm her nerves and I had to give in to her desires.

She asked- “Mercy , how does it feel to have an orgasm as a woman?” Instantly, I was dumbfounded, I became bewildered by her question. I stared at her for seconds as I allowed my brain to search for a suitable response to the question.

Sincerely, I didn’t know how to translate the feelings into words. I knew no matter how I explained, it will not capture perfectly how a woman feels when she steps into the seventh heaven.

Let’s call my friend, Arit.

She watched how I struggled to put the experience into words and to be truthful , I tried but I knew deep down…She can only imagine the experience.

No, she was not a virgin but a victim of Female Genitals Mutilation, FGM. Her genitalia organ was circumcized when she was little and because of this, it was difficult for her to experience sexual pleasures.

According to WHO, Female Genitals Mutilation is actually a traditional harmful practice that involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is thought to control women’s sexuality, ensure virginity before marriage and fidelity afterward, and to increase male sexual pleasure.

Some women who are just like my friend, are suffering from the effects of it. To Arit, it is affecting her sexual relationships. To others, it causes more difficulties and leaves them traumatize throughout their lifetime.

For instance, a Sudanese woman sharing her story in the Hosken Report on Genital and sexual mutilation of females narrated how she was excised when she was just five year old. Unfortunately, when she was 12 years, she had to undergo another circumcision which medically affected her negatively.

In her words, “Years later, the doctors told me that I could never have children because of the infibulation. Therefore, no one will marry me; no one wants a wife who cannot have a child. I sit at home alone and I cry a lot. I look at my mother and my aunts, and I ask them: ’Why did you do this terrible thing to me?’”

Some cases can result to death as narrated by a teacher from West Africa who told the tragedy story of his sister.

In his words, “It is our custom that at the age of eighteen, when the girls want to get married, they have to go through excision. To fulfill the traditional rite, old women in my village carried out the operation on my sister who was 18 at that time. In the evening, my sister was carried back to our house very ill because there were complications.

“We called the medicine man who tried to stop her bleeding from the operation but my
sister continued to bleed throughout the night…. After a night of a great pain, she died the next morning.”

In an anonymous letter published online, a lady who is married for three years said her female child has to go through the surgery so that she can get married in adulthood. She stated, if she is not circumcised, no man will marry her.

Narrating her ordeal as a FGM victim, she said, ” Uncircumcised women have pleasure when loving their husbands but we the circumcised ones feel nothing, there are no feelings left. The knife takes all away and what was cut off, will not grow again.”

Apart from these negative effects, according to WHO, females also suffer from “Urinary problems, vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections); menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.); sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.).

“Others include increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths; need for later surgeries: for example, the sealing or narrowing of the vaginal opening (type 3) may lead to the practice of cutting open the sealed vagina later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth (deinfibulation).

“Sometimes genital tissue is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing both immediate and long-term risks; and psychological problems (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, etc.).”

It is also important to note that FGM has four types.

Although this dehumanizing practice has been reduced in Akwa Ibom State, some women in other part of the country and African countries are still dealing with such harmful traditional practice.

UNICEF states that Female Genitals Mutilation is highly prevalent in five Nigerian states and this includes Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo. Adding that nearly 3 million girls and women would have undergone FGM in these States in the last five years.

Through research, it has been found that the practice is consistent in the horn of Africa (Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia) and in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso, as well as in Sudan and Egypt.

Back to Arit’s story, I don’t know if she has finally experienced what it feels to have orgasm as a woman but we are definitely aligning with the thought of Peter Hawkins, a UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

“The practice of FGM not only has no health benefits – it is deeply harmful to girls and women, both physically and psychologically. It is a practice that has no place in our society today and must be ended, as many Nigerian communities have already pledged to do.”

Mercy Obot

Mercy Obot is a journalist, entrepreneur and an inspirational writer who takes delight in emboldening people through real life stories. She also loves reading, listening to cool music and making friends globally.

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