Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Cruel Cut

Even in a country like the United Kingdom, female genital mutilation is prevalent.
Female genital mutilation or FGM is defined as a procedure where genitals are cut, injured or changed – and there is no medical justification. Some refer to it as “female circumcision” or “cutting”.
FGM involves cutting all or part of the outer labia, inner labia and clitoris. In the worst cases, girls are "sewn up", leaving only a tiny hole through which to urinate and menstruate.
Traditionally considered vital for preparing a girl for adulthood – in some parts of the world girls who have not been cut are seen as unsuitable for marriage – it has also been attacked as a means of controlling female sexuality and autonomy.
The consequences can be devastating: girls can bleed to death or pick up infections, and in the longer term can suffer from recurrent bladder infections, cysts, infertility, childbirth complications, mental trauma and lack of sexual desire.
It is said to be a potentially lethal practice that has been going on for generations, primarily in Africa and parts of Asia. Supposedly, two hundred million girls and women in thirty countries are estimated to have undergone FGM.
Sure, FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985, and since 2003 anyone taking a child out of the UK to be cut faces 14 years in prison. I read that there has not been a single conviction.
Yet, the British government estimates 170,000 women and girls are living with the consequences of having the procedure – and a further 65,000 girls under the age of 13 are at risk  (BBC, July 21, 2016 @ webpage

The exact scale of those affected is unknown – due to its hidden nature.
And there are even reports of a flourishing black market in the country. Police also suspect girls are flown out of the country to their family homelands for FGM.
The Agency for Culture and Change Management’s Sarah McCulloch said: “Wherever [ethnic minority] communities [that practice FGM] are residing, it is a problem".

As she explained: "…they come with their cultures and hold on to them".
It is not easy to eradicate the practice. Even when it is treated as criminal abuse in the UK.
Didn’t Mark Twain (“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”) said “The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it”?
On Wednesday evening, I was in Shah Alam to attend the Zuellig Pharma Toastmasters meeting. I was the General Evaluator there.
Sure, the members are enthusiastic but the fact remains that they need a lot of patient nurturing.


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