Educating people about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Cut my clitoris, please!

An article from Ahmed Awadalla
Researcher in Civil Liberties Program , EIPR, Egypt
Posted on Aug 30, 2010

So there I was, giving training at one of those sexuality education sessions. It was an introductory session, I was trying to be careful as possible as these young people are going to publicly discuss sexuality-related issues for the first time in their lives (in a health context of course)!

I came up with an information sharing game, to make it easier for them to participate and learn. I prepared a set of statements in the form of scientific facts. Then, I split each statement into two parts and distributed all the parts to the trainees, then asked them to find the other half of the statement they have.

One of the statements said: “Female genital cutting (FGM) could lead to bleeding, infertility, and loss of sexual appetite (berood ginsi).” After each of them found his/her matching half of the statement, I asked each of them to read the statement out loud. One of the girls said it out loud, but after she did, she shook her head and said “I’m not convinced, how can this happen?”

I went on explaining how the conditions and the delicacy of this surgery could lead to such fate. I also explained the function of the clitoris and how its cutting leads to loss of sexual desire.

“But isn’t this [loss of sexual desire] better to happen for women?” exclaimed the girl. I was surprised to be honest, even though I should have expected it, I guess it surprises me every time, especially when this kind of comment comes from a girl/woman! I think her only excuse is that she most probably haven’t started a sexual life yet, and she would know it better first hand and she wouldn’t have her children undergo the same awful procedure!

However, one shouldn’t be exactly surprised with this kind of FGM apologia in Egypt. The practice is indeed widely prevalent with shocking numbers. Egypt Demographic and Health Survey in 2008 demonstrates that the prevalence among women aged 15 to 49 is 91%. Although the practice seems to be declining among the younger generation, the phenomenon is widespread. With such rates, then definitely majority of the community supports it and have good reasons behind it.

Second part of the post:

This entry was posted in Awareness raising and advocacy, Female genital mutilation, Reproductive Health Education, Women’s health related issues. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Educating people about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

  1. jwiklander says:

    Thanks for sharing this story! It is really interesting how these social norms can be so entrenched. Education and dialogue is so important.
    On our blog, Girls’ Globe, we are trying to feature stories of positive change, and are at the moment looking at FGM/FGC. Feel free to share your stories with us as well!

  2. To my surprise, the Egyptian ladies started ‘exporting’ FGC, or they refer to as Female Circumcision (FC) to the US!
    They started to impose FC as a perquisite for marriage of any girl to their son. Moreover, they started to impose it on their granddaughters even when their daughters in law are not Egyptian, or even Muslims. Most of the girls and women who underwent FC developed depression.

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