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Female Genital Mutilation--Editorial

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No doubt, one of the most horrendous crimes today is the act of female genital mutilation (FGM). This serious offense is the altering of the female genitalia. Who would do this and why is this practice done?

First of all, let’s establish the fact that this practice is not only highly unnecessary but dangerous and inhumane. And before you say, “Oh, that only relates to developing countries,” wait a minute. Because of the large immigrant population that have relocated to industrialized nations, that’s no longer true. For example, the National Organization of Women (NOW) stated that this procedure affects approximately 170,000 in the United States alone. Worldwide, the number is a staggering 140 million.

The reason for this practice may involve cultural, social and religious beliefs stemming from mainly the areas of Africa, Asia, and Middle Eastern countries. Persons among these groups tend to believe that FGM enhances sexual pleasure for men or it ensures the preservation of family honor. Whatever the justification, several things are for sure: it can possibly put the female in grave danger, limit the women’s sexual pleasure and make her feel subhuman and violated.

How? To begin with, the “tools” used can range from crude ones like sharp stones to special knives. In many cases, these same instruments are used on other girls without proper sterilization. The altering of the genitalia may include surgery on the clitoris and/or labia. It can be performed on an infant who is only a few days old to a young woman just before her wedding. At times there is no anesthesia and there are a number of side effects.

Short term consequences include:

--Post-operative shock
--Damage to other organs due to lack of surgical expertise and/or resistance of patient
--Infections caused by lack of clean instruments
--Urine retention due to swelling and inflammation
--Severe bleeding

Long term consequences:

--Chronic infections of bladder and vagina
--Extremely painful menstruation
--Excessive scar tissue
--Cysts on scar line
--Child birth obstruction
--Increased risk of HIV due to unclean instruments

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