“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Maya Angelou
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. 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. 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because l believe it is an appropriate platform to help encourage our youth to speak out, in their communities, against outdated practices that dis-empower our young people.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
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.
“Sexual, racial, gender violence and other forms of discrimination and violence in a culture cannot be eliminated without changing culture.” Charlotte Bunch
— elizabeth obih-frank (@ElizObihFrank) August 11, 2015
Dirty tools bloodied…
FGM must stop…
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.