Discuss culture and traditions
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By e2c
#7392
bops wrote:This is interesting:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/218692
Wow. Thank you so much for posting that, bops!

2 cm of scar tissue (which is mind-boggling to me); arterial blood; and then this:
....layers of a black, sooty material—the decades-old remnants of the ash poultice the local women had used to stop the bleeding. It had caused a low-grade infection that still hadn't healed—one reason Sila was always in pain.
This (among other things) is why (I think) claims that the risks and negative effects of FGM are exaggerated is completely bogus. Systemic infections that never resolve, constant pain - is this what anyone really wants children and adults to live with? I honestly can't imagine how - or why - anyone who has accurate information would want to take such reckless chances or advise others to do so. The scarring is, as Sila says in the article, far deeper than the physical, though that alone is reason enough to say "No more."

May there be more docs trained in this procedure, may they take their skills to those who need them (at the lowest possible cost), is my hope - and my prayer. To be able to offer hope and help to women who've undergone FGM is a work of mercy, not something that should be exploited for material gain.

Edited to add the following quote from the article, which literally brought tears of happiness (for this woman) to my eyes -
A California nurse, Ngozi, who was circumcised as a newborn in Nigeria and also had her labia entirely cut away, came to Bowers in August. She is already feeling results, she tells NEWSWEEK. "Before, I would look at my textbook and look at myself and they were two different things. I wasn't even human." Bowers performed not only the clitoral operation but also plastic surgery to create labia for Ngozi, 34. "Now when I look at myself I feel like a woman," says Ngozi, who says she has even experienced orgasms for the first time in her life. "It's beautiful, I just love it, it feels like you're melting. Before it irritated me when my husband tried to touch me, now I reach out to him."
[/end "activist" rant - it's hard not to say these things, because it's so clear to me, as a woman, how these "procedures" can cause needless - and ongoing - pain and suffering, both physical and psychological.]
User avatar
By e2c
#7404
From 1994, an article on FGM in the US (originally published in The Atlantic magazine); includes an extensive interview with Mimi Ramsey, an Ethiopian immigrant who has been working to help women and girls who have been harmed by these "procedures," as well as to help educate African immigrant women and aid those who do not wish to have their daughters go through any form of FGM:

http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/fgm/fgm.htm
User avatar
By e2c
#7406
Online documentary on FGM by Somali-American immigrant filmmaker Soraya Mire. The title: Fire Eyes.

http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/1554/Fire-Eyes (entire film is here).

Caution: Some of the footage is very disturbing, but this film has helped many African immigrant women in the States to fight against FGM in their communities here and in their home countries.

Many African women willingly participated in the making of this film, both as interview subjects, as actors - and more.

I do not believe there is any sensationalism in this film. It is very straightforward, and the women clearly explain the difficulties they have faced (medically, emotionally, socially) and are continuing to face.
#9887
I would like to share my experience in Balandougou about this subject.
We, the women who came on this trip, were able to organize a sort of "womens panel" to speak with the women about questions we had about their culture. We asked many things, which would have to be in a new thread, but we asked about female "circumcision" (because that's how THEY referred to it).
My heart remains heavy to this day to know that, even though "illegal"in Guinea, it is STILL done, without fail, in the village of Balandougou, when girls are 10 years old. (shudder) it is also at this time that men are allowed to chose which one will be their future wife.
At the "panel" was Mamady's older sister Kadia,(R.I.P) you may remember the lady in the Djembefola documentary that was rolling around on the ground when MK arrived in the village after 26 years; and, Mamady's firstborn daughter, Sire'.
We asked them where the tradition came from; did it come with Islam or was it there before, Kadia said, " We dont know where it comes from, but everybody does it." and Sire' told the story of how when she was a girl, Mamady forbade her mother from having their daughter "circumcised", but that when Mamady went out for touring, the women came and took her, and did it anyway. Then Sire' asked if we could move on to another subject saying that all you really need to know about it is that it is very painful.
:cry:
#10071
What beats me is how it is possible for western governments not to legislate against this practice. Under the cover of religious or spiritual beliefs, people are committing what, otherwise, would be termed child abuse, aggravated assault, and causing grievous bodily harm.

The other thing that gets me is how female circumcision is often performed by women who themselves have been abused that way. (I found video footage of women performing the procedure. Unless you are strong emotionally, I recommend to not go and look for that footage.) I suspect this is much like the fact that people who were sexually abused as children often end up becoming perpetrators themselves later in life.

The sooner this practice stops, the better.

Michi.
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By e2c
#10074
I doubt anyone here in the US will ever know enough to propose legislation unless they start listening to people who (I kind of hate to say this) are largely "peripheral," being immigrants or 1st/2nd/3d generation descendants of immigrants. (I'm using quotes for a number of reasons - 1 of them is that it takes a long time to attain citizenship here, so by default, most of the immigrant communities simply don't matter to politicians - after all, they can't vote.)

The 1st case that became widely known here involved a Togolese woman who was held in custody by the US government (like the situation in "The Visitor") for a *very* long time prior to having her case heard by the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service). It became a cause célèbre, partly because opinion was so divided - some in the INS didn't see what her "problem" was (as in, why should she be upset about going through this "procedure" in the 1st place? etc. etc.) - and there was outright disbelief about what she was saying, too, from highly-placed people. (That if she were repatriated to Togo, she would be forced to go through the practice, regardless of what she wanted or didn't want.)

Ultimately, she won... but it took years. And even after all the publicity (regional, at least - this happened in the D.C. area) opinion was still quite divided. Lots of people didn't get it, others simply didn't see a reason to care.

And then there's the flak - even persecution - experienced by women in the immigrant community who speak out against these "practices."

michi, you might want to read back through this thread and check some of the links, etc. (Be sure to read Tom Kondas' posts about his gf...)
Under the cover of religious or spiritual beliefs...
Not necessarily the case. A lot of people in the West seem to associate FGM with Muslims, but animists, Christians and Muslims (in Africa, including N. Africa) all do it. There is nothing in the Qur'an that sanctions this practice. A lot of it is cultural, not religious at all - though some people are trying to turn it into a religious issue (in W. Africa, that is). And much of it is motivated by inaccurate information about health as well as by beliefs about the role and status of women. (See the doc I linked to above - "Fire Eyes" - for some statements by men who think it's right, and by other men - all Somali - who are against it.)

My hunch is that a lot of parallels could be drawn between this and the now-outlawed custom of foot-binding in China. Many children died as a result of that "custom," too - and those who did make it through were not only crippled for life but suffered intense pain and other severe consequences of the practice. (and in that case, it really was about social status, the role of women, and ideas about beauty - not in the least about health or religious beliefs. It was done by women to their own children...and as horrible as it is to contemplate, I can see why someone might choose to go through with it in order to help ensure a reasonably secure future for their child.)
#10085
e2c wrote:
Under the cover of religious or spiritual beliefs...
Not necessarily the case. A lot of people in the West seem to associate FGM with Muslims, but animists, Christians and Muslims (in Africa, including N. Africa) all do it. There is nothing in the Qur'an that sanctions this practice. A lot of it is cultural, not religious at all - though some people are trying to turn it into a religious issue (in W. Africa, that is). And much of it is motivated by inaccurate information about health as well as by beliefs about the role and status of women.
OK, I hear you (at least as far as FGM is concerned). I am struck though by the way the state seems to blind when it comes to crime committed in the name of religion. Richard Dawkins has written extensively about this. Not that I agree with everything he says. But he does point out that what goes on under the protection of religion in some of the more extreme sects would not be tolerated but for the so-called separation of state and church. When it comes to committing crimes against children, I would like to see a lot less separation.

And, yes, I do support freedom of religion--I consider it a fundamental human right, despite not being religious myself. If we don't allow people to believe in what they want to believe in, we have totally lost the plot as far as human rights are concerned. But if what people choose to believe in is child abuse, a state that does not step in and take action fails its duty of care toward its citizens.

I don't care whether FGM is motivated by cultural, religious, or spiritual beliefs. As far as I am concerned, it is torture and mutilation of innocent children. Just imagine someone taking their daughter and cutting off one of her little fingers. I could make a cogent argument that doing so would actually cause less harm than FGM does. If someone were to indeed to cut off the little finger of a girl in a western country, they would almost certainly end up with a lengthy prison term. Yet, when they go and excise her clitoris, a different set of rules applies. I find that shocking.

And, although this is severely off-topic given the title of this thread, I object to male circumcision on the same grounds. The effects on quality of life of male circumcision are admittedly a lot less severe. But it still constitutes assault on helpless children. If men want to get circumcised, they are free to do so. But they should have the freedom of choice, instead of being subjected to it as children with no say in the matter.
(See the doc I linked to above - "Fire Eyes" - for some statements by men who think it's right, and by other men - all Somali - who are against it.)
I downloaded it today and will watch it later tonight. Thanks for the link!

Cheers,

Michi.
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By e2c
#10294
Some resources in the US:

in NYC, the Sauti Yetu ("our voice") Center for African Women offers practical help for African immigrant women and their children for all aspects of domestic violence and child abuse.

The center is run by African immigrants and their staff roster looks pretty impressive.

they have published medical, sociological and educational papers on FGM.

Their URL: http://www.sautiyetu.org/viewer/home/in ... /design001

They work very closely with Sanctuary for Families, an organization that is dedicated to helping women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

http://www.sanctuaryforfamilies.org/
User avatar
By e2c
#10840
Doctors Without Borders special report, titled Shattered Lives covers many forms of sexual/domestic violence against women and girls, including FGM; also covers sexual/domestic violence against men and boys (very important topic!):

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/pu ... ial-report

Shattered Lives site: http://www.azg.be/shatteredlives/index.html

There's a PDF of the report available for download, too. It's not easy reading, but there are some hopeful aspects to it.
Last edited by e2c on Thu May 13, 2010 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
#13008
'As late as the 1940, the Roman Catholic church recommended the amputation or cauterization of the clitoris to cure 'the vice of lesbianism'.


Not in the least surprised...

The article is excellent and considers many angles.. though I feel very ill..



(Alexi Nicole Wood. 2001. A cultural right of passage or a form of torture. Hastings womens law journal. Vol.12:2)
#13167
Paul wrote:'As late as the 1940, the Roman Catholic church recommended the amputation or cauterization of the clitoris to cure 'the vice of lesbianism'.


Not in the least surprised...

The article is excellent and considers many angles.. though I feel very ill..



(Alexi Nicole Wood. 2001. A cultural right of passage or a form of torture. Hastings womens law journal. Vol.12:2)
We should be contented to what God gave to us. We can develop it and improve, but we can never have the right to change it totally, especially, on that matter. We should respect and take care of what God Almighty has given to us.
Anyway, female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Last edited by arje06 on Sat May 29, 2010 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.