SIJU YUSUF : FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)
It was a Saturday morning, Tara had just finished her chores and had gone to use the bathroom as is customary.
Saturday’s were for catching up on hygiene and general body image. Today was no exception. She was midway through her routine weekly pubic hair removal when her sister, Feyisara pushed her way into the bathroom.
The 3 Bedroom Flat they lived had just one bathroom and a toilet, meaning, everyone went about their ‘business’ with the consciousness that someone might be waiting.
Tara was taking too long and Feyisara had pushed the door open to get in. The nail behind the door that functioned as the lock gave way too quickly.
“Open your legs wider” Feyisara said with a very puzzled look on her face.
Feyisara is 5 years older than Tara and had just secured admission into the university. She was the big sister Tara looked up to though she had 4 others.
Frightened at the bewildered look on her sister’s face, Tara opened her legs wider before asking “What? Kini? I am using a shaving stick now, not blade. Is there a cut?”
“No, no cut. Just that your ‘thing’ looks funny’
Tara then spread her legs wider, bent down to inspect her pubic area, more critically for the first time.
“Hurry up, we need to show mummy”.
“Oya, laaa, spread your legs, spread it wide”, Mrs Lawal commanded, adjusting her glasses which seemed to be permanently falling off her nose.
“Hmm, Okay, don’t worry. It’s okay”.
Tara stood up from their Mothers bed, pulling her pant and hastily adjusting her skirt as if the whole essence had not just gone through scrutiny.
She didn’t realize the weight of that inspection until Mrs Lawal stopped at the family Doctor’s office on their way from the market later in the day.
Two elderly doctors with gloves in hand, had gathered and were now looking into her, flipping her labia from side to side as if she was some specimen.
Some minutes of medical jargons passed and finally, they were ushered back to the Doctors office.
The family Doctor then asked Mrs Lawal if she wanted their practice to be reported to WHO.
WHO? That acronym sounds very familiar isn’t that World Health Organization? It definitely is.
“Mrs Lawal, cutting the labia means circumcising your daughter and in this day and age, Doctors get reported for doing that”.
Bam! Now she understands. It is all making sense now. The friction she thought her vagina sometimes made with her Jean trouser through her pants that caused slight discomfort is her longer-than-normal Labia Minora. Any attempt at shortening the length is generally referred to as genital mutilation since there was relatively no health implications.
The ‘reporting to WHO’ part may have been exaggerated but she just escaped CIRCUMCISION at 16 years old!
Wow, very close shave.
True Life Story As Shared By Tara Lawal (pseudo name)
What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?
The partial or complete removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Such organs include; clitoral hood and clitoral glans, inner labia, inner and outer labia, closure of vulva also known as infibulation (Type 3).
The practice, commonly found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East is an attempt to control female/women sexuality. Aside its deep roots in gender inequality, this practice also has numerous health effects; keloid scar formation, cysts formation and abscesses, hemorrhage and infections, fatal bleeding, urinary incontinence, painful sexual intercourse, hypersensitivity of the genital area, difficulty in childbirth and so on.
In Type 3 FGM, there are reported cases of complete vaginal obstruction resulting in the accumulation of menstrual blood in the vagina and uterus. It creates a physical barrier to sexual intercourse and childbirths. Some women have had to endure the psychological trauma and painful experience associated with having their vulvas surgically opened before they got intimate with partners.
Studies have shown that there is an increased risk of Caesarian section, episiotomy, post partum hemorrhage with women who have undergone Type 3 FGM.
Till date, there is no reported health benefit to FGM.
The Continents that are most notorious for this practice are now well informed about the issues and health effects. Most have outlawed it however, enforcing these laws is a major challenge in completely eradicating this process of ridiculing the women folk.
Kudos to every individual and organization tirelessly working to stop FGM.
June 24, 2017