Female Genital Mutilation

Photo and Article by Zainab Adelopo

A few days ago I was talking to a friend about the Free the Nipple movement. She was adamant that it was the most important feature of feminism. I brought up the topic of female genital mutilation and I couldn’t help but be shocked at her indifferent reaction; she had no clue what it was. For the benefit of my friend and of many other people who are unaware of what FGM is I’d like to explain it in a brief couple of paragraphs.

Female genital mutilation is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, usually before puberty starts. The procedure is normally carried out by a woman who has no medical training. Pain-numbing treatments are not used, and the practice is usually carried out using knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades.   

Type 1: when the clitoris has been removed

Type 2: Where the clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina) have been removed, with or without removal of the labia majora (larger outer lip

Type 3: The stitching together of the edges, leaving a tiny passage for urine and menstruation

Type 4: Other harmful procedures to the female genitals, which include pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping and burning the area.
Below is a map of the countries in which FGM are prevalent in Africa (it is also prevalent in countries in Asia and in the Middle East). I was incredibly stunned and appalled to find out that it is something that goes on in my home country of Nigeria. It definitely isn’t something that people speak about on the streets, and to me that makes it worse because people have accepted it as part and parcel of their culture, when in fact it is just the dehumanisation of young girls who have to go through the emotional trauma in the aftermaths of the procedure. FGM is something we should all be fighting against.