Mutilation of the clitoris, clitoral circumcision or “female circumcision” as it’s called in many countries, is a practice that consists of partial or total removal of the female genital organs, specifically the clitoris.
Many cultures, especially those of indigenous African descent, have conducted this atrocious practice since antiquity as a part of their beliefs and customs.
Thanks to the efforts of the World Health Organization, this practice has been fought in recent years and many countries and native communities have stopped its practice, taking into account the incredible risks to the young girls that are submitted to this painful procedure.
On June 9th, 2015, Nigeria became the 23rd country in Africa to outlaw clitoral circumcision in young girls.
This news is really important for those fighting against this practice as Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country with an estimated 20 million women and girls.
It’s a greatly important step in completely eradicating the abhorrent practice, which is sadly still practiced in 29 countries in Africa and Asia.
What is clitoral circumcision?
This custom is practiced on girls between the ages of 8 and 14, whose mothers accompany them to an old, dark room where sanitary practices are not observed.
There, a woman, who will perform the circumcision, waits in the dark with her razors and knives to carry out this horrible procedure that can take up to 15 minutes.
Once inside the dark room, the woman examines the girl’s genitals and almost blindly, using a small knife or another sharp object, begins to totally or partially cut away the girl’s clitoris, labia minora, and also her labia majora.
Under these conditions, without any type of anesthesia or proper hygiene, the woman mutilates the girl as she screams and cries from the terrible pain it causes. Inside the room, blood and pain pour out, while outside the family celebrates the fact that the girl is ready to become a woman.
With this “procedure” finished, the search begins for a husband who will give a good dowry in exchange for the girl now considered a “woman”. That is if the girl manages to survive all the risks that come with the mutilation of this organ that plays a very important role in women.
Many young girls die from bleeding or neurogenic shock caused by the intense pain and trauma. Others die from the terrible infections that inevitably occur from not practicing any proper sanitation methods.
Because of this, the World Health Organization has for years officially denounced this practice as female genital mutilation because there is no medical need and it’s usually performed by third parties for the intended purpose of depriving women of sexual pleasure for life.
And as if that weren’t cause enough, it’s been shown that clitoral circumcision causes serious consequences in women and girls, such as hemorrhaging, urinary problems, cysts, infections, infertility and delivery complications.
The shameful facts
It’s estimated that four girls under age 15 become victims of clitoral circumcision every minute. According to figures from non-governmental organizations, the number of mutilated women is over 137 million, despite multiple protests and the constant fight to abolish this horrible practice.
Worst of all, because this practice is still permissible in 29 countries in Africa and Asia, 86 million girls could suffer from clitoral circumcision by the year 2030.
Even though the law prohibits this practice in many countries, that doesn’t mean it has been completely eradicated. Despite being legally prohibited, many cultures continue practicing illegally.
Luckily, the constant work of the WHO and other world health entities is bringing results, the decision in Nigeria is clear evidence of that.
It’s really important to keep educating on the health risks associated with this terrible practice that’s still being carried out.
Without wanting to alter indigenous cultures and traditions, it’s essential to raise awareness and change the mentality regarding this practice that has claimed thousands of lives and is still causing suffering.