Female Genital Mutilation Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3036 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 11  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

2004, pp. 281-283) reports on a study conducted at three teaching hospitals in Nigeria shows that of 522 women examined and interviewed who had FGM procedures performed on them, 89% of those procedures were done by "untrained personnel." And of those 522 women, up to 67% of them "reported complications following the procedure." The most common complaints? "Severe pain and bleeding" were reported by 69% of those who had complications.

Why did the Nigerian women go through with the FGM procedures? About 63% said they did it for cultural and/or traditional reasons, and just less then 20% of them said they wanted their future female children to undergo FGM. The researchers note that although about 100,000 teenagers -- most living in Sub-Saharan Africa -- die from complications following FGM procedures annually, and the practice of FGM is considered "to be a violation of human, women's and children's rights," the dark issues surrounding FGM "are shrouded in secrecy, and systematic research into the magnitude" of the issue is "scarce."

Of the 522 women in the Nigerian study, 63% underwent genital mutilation "before the age of 13"; up to 31% of the procedures were performed "before the age of 5 years"; and around 4% of the women had the procedure performed during their pregnancy.

Four-hundred and sixteen of the 522 women "could remember the circumstances surrounding the operation"; and of these, 89% had their genitals mutilated by "medically untrained personnel" (59% of the untrained personnel were "traditional birth attendants," 41% were "an elder in the family" and the remaining 11% were doctors or midwives).

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One hundred twenty-seven of the 522 women want their female child to have the operation, while 207 (40%) reportedly are "indifferent." Of the 522 women in the study, a scant 8% were aware that the procedure is currently illegal in Nigeria. The study concludes that the agencies presently working on preventing female genital mutilation "are reaching only a small percentage of people for whom FGM is a tradition practice."

Term Paper on Female Genital Mutilation -- a Assignment

"Psycho-sexual Effect of Female Genital Mutilation on Sudanese Men." In an article in The Ahfad Journal (Magied and Musa 2004, pp. 18-28), the authors point out that while FGM is "well-known" for its "infliction of ... hazards" on girls and women in general, very little is known about the "psychosexual effect of FGM on Sudanese women, and "hardly any literature" exists on Sudanese men with reference to FGM.

The article reported data resulting from the research of 200 males, surveyed through questionnaires and interviews; four groups of 50 married men each were selected from each of these four categories: workers, nurses, clerical staff and "advocates."

Clearly, the authors of this research use English as a second language, but their findings are pertinent and germane. The main points of the article are that a) "Sudanese men experience feelings of fear" from the "expected difficulty of penetrating a tight vaginal orifice," and they become "furtherly aggravated when effecting coitus" takes up to several weeks, even months; b) in order to facilitate coitus, some Sudanese men "resort" to lubricants, while others "seek surgical interventions by professions" (presumably doctors, who "undo" stitches), and still others "suspect impotence after repeated unsuccessful trials to effect coitus"; c) a "contradiction" was found in the men: while they preferred an "uncircumcised wife" they also choose to have their daughters circumcises; this situation is called a "Cultural Inhibition Syndrome" (CIS).

Some of the data this survey reported is quite interesting, and revealing. For example, 46% of "workers," but only 26% of clerical staff and 28% of advocates expressed feelings of "fear" before the first wedding night with a circumcised wife. Meanwhile 74% of clerical staff and 68% of advocates expressed "pleasure" in anticipating the first night of marriage with a circumcised wife.

The reasons given for fear perhaps tell something about male attitudes in the Sudan towards women: Some 87% of male workers, 83% of nurses, 85% of clerical staff and 93% of advocates feared the possible failure to "penetrate a tight vagina"; but a distinct minority (13% of workers, 17% of nurses, 15% of clerical staff and 7% of advocates) experienced any fear that they might inflict "pain" on their circumcised wives.

As to length of time prior to initial coitus, close to a majority, or a scant majority (48% of workers, 54% of nurses, 56% of clerical staff and 36% of advocates) were able to achieve coitus with their circumcised spouses within a time frame of one to six days.

As a result of this published study, the authors recommended that "the health hazards of FGM should be incorporated into the curricula of schools ... [and] all health providers should make an oath" to not practice FGM." Moreover, the Sudan Medical Council "should suspend" any health provider practicing FGM, and those who get circumcised (and those who are responsible for having children circumcised) "should be penalized."

In an article in the British Journal of Midwifery ("Gender and Daily Life in Ethiopia" pp. 99-100), the un-identified author notes that the practice of FGM is "perpetuated by women, but justified in gendered terms. It is commonly held that without having been circumcised, a woman will find it difficult to marry or will be difficult for her husband to control." It is also used in the sense of reducing "sexual urges, to keep women docile."

But the author's report that it is not hard to believe FGM is widespread in Ethiopia, given the fact that Ethiopian girls are also vulnerable to "culturally sanctioned violence, including abduction, particularly when fetching water or fuel wood." Why are girls abducted in Ethiopia? They are snatched by older men "in order to be forced to marry, often by being raped so that her family will be pressured to let her remain with her new husband rather than returning in disgrace."

Using baptism ceremonies of newborns as an opportunity to excise females is being reported as commonplace in the African nation of Burkina Faso (Contemporary Sexuality 2004, pp. 7-8). The good news for those opposed to FGM's widespread acceptance in Africa is that only 1 to 2% of women in Burkina Faso's "high urban populations" now are being subjected to FGM. That is well down from the "two out of three girls" being subjected to FGM in 1996. Still, though, in the rural "resistant-to-change" provinces of Burkina Faso, the percentages remain fairly high -- "36 to 55% in 14 provinces -- of girls who have genital mutilation procedures performed on them.

The sad reality though, is that in those rural provinces, the "clandestine activities of circumcisers" include the insidious strategy of using "baptism ceremonies of newborns as an opportunity to excise," according to Antoine Sanons of the "National Committee Against the Practice of Circumcision (CNLPE)."

A joint survey by the WHO and CNLPE revealed that "70% of instances of female genital mutilation are to girls age 7 and younger." In order to avoid the law -- it is against the law in Burkina Faso as well as 12 other African nations, though the law is not fully enforced in most cases -- "the circumcisers have been smart enough to substitute adolescents with little girls," Hortense Palm of the CNLPE was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the Economist (September 2004 p. 75) reports that a quarter of women in Nigeria are presently circumcised, and 90% in Mali have had FGM procedures performed on them. In Egypt, the article continues, a massive campaign against FGM was launched 10 years ago during the International Conference on Population and Development; the campaign was created to try to reduce the percentage of women (97% at that time) being mutilated, most often by a midwife. Unfortunately, the 97% figure has been reduced "only slightly," the Economist reports, but the good news is that there has been a shift from the use of midwives to primarily doctors who perform the mutilation.

In conclusion, a research article in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (Bishop 2004 pp. 473-497), using a rather lofty intellectual theme, states that "nothing challenges" the tolerance of Western liberalism "like the practice of sunna ... " And the Western critique of sunna "often maps onto the bodies of African women Western symbolic notions of sexual and political freedom, as symbolized in the clitoris."


Bishop, Jeffrey P. (2004). "Modern Liberalism, Female Circumcision, and the Rationality of Traditions," Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 473-497.

British Journal of Midwifery (2004). "Gender and Daily Life in Ethiopia," pp. 98-99, October.

Contemporary Sexuality (2004). "Mixed News on Female Genital Mutilation," vol. 38, no. 8, pp. 7-8. August.

Dare, F.O., Oboro, V.O., Fadiora, S.O., Orji, E.O., Sule-Odu, A.O., and Olabode, T.O. (2004), "Female Genital Mutilation: An Analysis of 522 Cases in South-Western Nigeria," Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 281-283.

Dorkenoo, Efua, and Mohammed, Rahmat (1998), "Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)," in "Health Issues of Minority Women Living in Western Europe," World Health Organization Report on a… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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