August 19

Haiku: THE CUT…

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“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Maya Angelou

Haiku: THE CUT... - FGM - Female Genital Mutilation must stop
Haiku: THE CUT… FGM – Female Genital Mutilation must stop

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade or razor (with or without anaesthesia), FGM is concentrated in 27 African countries, Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan, and found elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East, and among diaspora communities around the world.[8] The age at which it is conducted varies from days after birth to puberty; in half the countries for which national figures are available, most girls are cut before the age of five.[4] via Wikipedia

Helpless, She was cut…
Rusted razor, slicing deep
Thirty years ago…

A rite of passage
Unspeakable pain … and screams
Blood and tears flowing…

A week ago today, in collaboration with the UN, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of  International Youth Day. Since its creation in 1985, it has chosen yearly themes that address the needs of youth globally. This year, the theme is: Youth Civic Engagement. I love this theme because l believe it is an appropriate platform to help encourage our youth to speak out, in their communities, against outdated practices that dis-empower our young people. It is time to set aside traditions that are no longer useful and especially those like, child-bride arrangements/marriages and Female Genital Mutilation, that are forced on our youth and can cause great loss of life.

Over the years, many women, feminist and otherwise, have spoken out about it. Women’s issues advocates like Efua Dorkenoo, Molly Melching and, Writer/doctor Nawal el Saadawi, have written, campaigned, and spoken boldly about ending the practice. In some countries, Senegal and Nigeria come to mind, there have been positive outcomes; both because of government mandates and the effort of some communities eager to abandon these ritualistic cuttings. But, we still need to see it stopped everywhere.

“There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life, no matter what its location, age, gender or disability.” Sharron Angle

Haiku: THE CUT... - FGM - Female Genital Mutilation must stop
Haiku: THE CUT… – FGM – Female Genital Mutilation must stop

A Mother keening
Over a deeply cut child
Dead … in a red pool

Tender parts exposed
The Circumciser’s blade raised
Lifetimes flashing by…

My Haiku is not a personal experience but told from the many, many stories I have read on the subject. In case you don’t know what it is: FGM/C is the cutting/removal of the external female genitalia. There are three types of it from Type I – which is a clitorectomy (the removal of the clitoris) to Type II – which is an Excision (the removal of the inner labia) to Type III –  Infibulation the most severe cut (the removal of the external genital and sewing up of the vulva). Many of these cuts are done without anesthesia and often without sterilized, surgical tools. Using a rusted blade or knife is not uncommon, and those who die of sepsis are looked down on as weak. Many young girls end up with mental health and female problems because of the FGM/C. Even with the controversies around the subject, it is truly time to end this practice everywhere in the world where it persists.

More Below!
“Sexual, racial, gender violence and other forms of discrimination and violence in a culture cannot be eliminated without changing culture.” Charlotte Bunch

Haiku: THE CUT... - FGM - Female Genital Mutilation must stop
Haiku: THE CUT… – FGM – Female Genital Mutilation must stop

Dirty tools bloodied…
Dreaded infibulation
FGM must stop…

Today, remember
A tradition’s myopia
Maims us, one and all…

“In this landmark year, as leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever. At this critical moment in history, I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

To continue to practice traditions that harm our children, and justify it, by saying it is the way things have always been done is myopic at best. Recently, Nigeria took a big step by banning/abolishing the practice of Female Genital Mutilation throughout the country. While there was barely a bleep in the international community, it is an act of courage against a many centuries old form of female domination and oppression. To add insult to injury, the proliferation of this painful and dangerous act has become endemic in so many communities that leaders and those in a position to stop it, often turn a blind eye on it all. As we celebrate our youth during this important period of growth and change, we must come together to support and encourage them “to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.” We must add our voices to the conversation on stopping acts of violence against  girls and women globally. Speak Up. What are your thoughts on the subject?

My fellow bloggers were equally creative with their selections. Check out how others interpreted the theme – Helpless – below.

This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Daily Post: Weekly Photo Challenge:  Helpless –  Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?

Positive Motivation Tip: Imagine the helplessness of young girls maimed without recourse. Speak out. Cherish your body and freedom.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos female circumcision ceremony, via Wikipedia and/or from my Personal Collection.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet


creative writing, DPchallenge, Female genital mutilation, FGM/C, Groupthink, haiku, inspiration, Motivation, poetry, postaday, reflections, storytelling, The cut

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  • It is so incredibly sad that so many young girls and women are subjected to mutilation like this. Just makes me appreciate our health care system even more.

  • It’s so sad to think of the horrible things that happen in other cultures – whether it is a tradition or forced.

  • In this day and age I am consistently surprised by some customs that are still tolerated. This being one of them…

  • I really just can’t imagine this happening. It is so sad and I am glad it has been banned. Hopefully that means it stops! <3 Christine,

  • This is definitely a violent and inhumane tradition. It’s good to see it being phased out as education and empowerment spreads.

  • It is a very difficult subject even to read about, though important that we do. It feel so shocking that FMG still occurs. I’m happy that Nigeria has (finally) banned it, but I still worry that it will take much longer to weed it out of the culture of the people. Your Haiku is beautiful and tragic.

  • I had no idea they used 3 different types of female mutilation. Thank You for bringing more awareness to these horrible acts committed on females. Reposting this! PS: I had tears and felt real physical pain when I read this.

  • Makes me sad to know this is happening to women in the world. Youth Civic Engagement is a great them for this years International Youth Day. Hopefully their voices can bring a change to old ideas.

  • This infuriates me! How I wish that there was not a single girl that had to go through this. But unfortunately, a lot of them did and I feel so sorry for them.

  • This is one of those issues that has me walking a challenging road…as I do want to respect others beliefs and there have been women in my life who have had the “procedure” who basically told me to butt out. I’m glad though to see Nigeria’s move.

  • This is truly a great way they created this world youth day, in order for us adults celebrate about what we can help as well as those youth to voice out their perspectives.

  • This surely is bizarre, disturbing and interesting at the same time. I guess we can never jump into any conclusions since we all have our own unique cultures and traditions

    • The only thing unique about this practice is that women in some communities insist on continuing this barbaric and life threatening act. There is no justification for it and no need to excuse it as a cultural phenom. It is BARBARIC!

  • This is such a sad and scary and horrible thing that is still done to women and children today. It must be stopped. Thank you for spreading awareness.

  • I read a few weeks ago how many girls in the US are forced to do this. It is so sad for me to hear this.

  • Thank you for writing this. I’m sitting here shaking after reading this. I’ve heard about these practices before, but never really understood and read into it. History has definitely been made with this new ruling. It’s unfortunate it took this long. Those Haikus are chilling and moving.

  • OMG I had no clue such things still exist. I am so glad that t has been banned now.

  • I have heard about FGM and I feel for these women who are a victim of this. I agree with you that it is time to out an end to this practice.

  • Oh my, I am so sorry I can’t finish reading the post. Too harsh for me as I just gave birth to a girl especially. I’ll need a few month but I read the haiku. I can already imagine the pain.

  • What is the PURPOSE of this mutilation? Why is it done? I can’t even imagine!

    • There are so many reasons but most are based on beliefs that girls private parts are dirty and need to be cleaned up. There are also those who believe it will prevent women from cheating and so on… All are baseless.

  • I remember hearing about this horrendous act when I was in middle school, and I was still shocked more than 15 years later that it was happening. There are so many people in the fight that I hope it can be banned worldwide.

  • This is one of those cultural issues that I walk along the thin line of interfering and acceptance. My daughter has a way of saying “If you like it, I love it,” and that has kinda been my approach on this, having been told to butt out so many time by women who are of this culture. On the other hand, I am happy to see the Government taking a stance.

    • Those who tell you to butt out are in denial of the horrific practice. There is no justification for it anywhere in the world. Some defenders of the practice say that in the West, people have plastic surgery … as if that is an apt comparison. It is not the same as holding down a 5 year old and cutting out her vagina against her wish. F…. ing murderers!!! 🙁

  • I think it is so wonderful that changes are starting to be made on this issue. It is such a horrific cultural practice.

  • I’ve read about this before and it’s just WRONG. I know it has been a tradition and we have to respect each others belief, but its just too dangerous for these women to undergo a non sterile operation such as removing parts of the genital T_T

  • I can’t imagine being the girl, much less the mother of the girls this is happening to. It’s so senseless.

  • So very sad for these poor women who are forced to undergo these procedures. Proud to support those who fight for the women to protect their own bodies.

  • I learned about this in cultural anthropology in college 10 plus years ago, and I am still disturbed by it.

  • I just hope with its banning, that it actually is stopped. Laws can be made, but if they aren’t followed, it does nothing to stop something so horrific.

  • This is a very sensitive subject matter indeed especially for women and girls of Africa. The term genital mutilation sounds barbaric already as it is. I wonder if male circumcision will also go this way in the future. – Fred

  • This is so brutal and I’m still surprised that in the 21st century it still exists.

  • My heart can’t take this even when I know it happens in real life. It’s a sad reminder of how harsh and cruel the world can be, genital mutilation will never be right no matter what those who chose to perform it say. It’s inhuman.

  • I have heard about this years ago and could not believe they actually did this to young women. It truly is outrageous and I am so glad it is being outlawed in some place. It need to be outlawed everywhere. Thanks so much for spreading the word.

  • I can’t believe that this goes on but it does. I first learned about female general mutilation in college history and I was shocked that it happens. And that their moms/parents/family of all people condone and insist on it.

  • this is so disturbing! i’ve heard of FGM before but didn’t wanna go read more into it, to avoid unnecessary trauma. i really do not understand why this practice come about in the first place!

  • FGM being banned in Nigeria is a big step towards having it stopped in other countries for good! ^_^

  • Seriously i never heard about it and really got goosebumps when i have finished reading the first half. I can’t imagine the pain they must have gone shoudl be stopped.

  • Female Genital Mutilation looks like a scary procedure for ladies. It’s the modern era. They should stop doing this.

  • I heard about this in some news. Pity to those who undergo this pain. Hope they can stop it one day. Although it is not easy to do that.

  • It’s my first time hearing of FGM/C and I concur with you. This tradition leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And all those who died, their deaths are in vain :/

  • This FGM issue hugged the news ealry last week. Sad, but this practice must be stop.. Nice Haiku about the issue.

  • Yes, I read about this some time back and it’s very sad to be hearing how women are being suppressed like that!

  • I remember hearing about this when I was a little girl, even remember a tv special done about it. It is crazy to think that this happened and has gone on for this long.

  • The only body piercing i am totally agree for is on the ear no more no less. This must be very painful.

  • This is such an awful practice! Good for Nigeria – now I hope other countries follow suit.

  • I still dont understand why such cultures will have FGM/C! To prevent from cheating so they had to stitch the whole genital, OMG!!!

  • I agree with Victoria. This is disturbing and interesting at the same time.

  • Genital mutilation is harsh and sad. I hope both boys and girls are protected soon.

  • Many of these practices are deep-rooted in culture and beliefs of ages gone by, for many reasons. I definitely agree that we need to empower women and children to move forward in the modern world we live in today.

  • I am really saddened to know about d Female Genital Mutilation. This is my first time come across such injustice against women, why they must to do? is just killing the girl teenage or could cause severe illness or infections. Plus I could not comprehend what is the benefit of doing this? This is inhuman and must stop.

  • It’s such a tragic practice, one laced in age old tradition that needs to stop. Heck, we cut our boys here in America too — WHY!? My son is intact. Thankful my hubby made me question the “norm”.

  • This hurts my heart to know that it still happens. I just don’t understand how people can be so cruel.

  • Good god, this barbaric ritual has finally met it ends at the expense of more than 130 million women .

  • I remember seeing a show about FGM last year on the history channel. That is a very outdated and horrid practice that needs to stop.

  • This is so sad and tragic. I couldn’t make it through the whole article. I have a little girl and I couldn’t imagine this happening to her.

  • This has always been so disturbing to me. No rational basis at all for putting girls/women through so much pain. I’m glad more places are banning the practice. I wish it would have happened sooner.

  • Female genital mutilation is a curse, a barbaric tradition that impairs and shames women. It should be banned forever.

  • I was actually very very very happy for Nigeria when i read about the news about banning FGM there, it really is about time we abolish this horrific, life-threatening, outdated practice. Your haikus, beautifully capture the emotion of the women who experienced this, although they do sound dark, but I guess that’s the point.

  • This practice should have been stopped a long time ago. In fact, it should not have been started at all. I am hoping no girl will ever go through this again.

  • I truly hope this practice is completely stopped as this is something no girl should ever go through.

  • I have barely been able to fathom the ache and pain that comes from female mutilation… This is a physical as well as an emotional issue and that it was finally banned by one of the countries prominent in the practice is surely a step in the right direction. I pray that more of those customs would be abolished. Thank you for sharing on this tough but real issue!

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