Do You Love Your Vagina?

Well I do and I believe most people in the world also love vaginas.Whatever you choose to call them: vajayjays; pussies; fannies; coochies and the like, who doesn't love them? They are the source of much pleasure and the porthole of life. However, there clearly some in this world who do not have the same respect for vaginas as I do. I'm talking about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Specifically about FGM in Ghana. I don't know about you but I was shocked when I discovered that FGM was practised in areas of Ghana. I've long been aware of the process of FGM in countries all over the world, particularly in Asia and Africa, but (call it ignorance) I was unaware that this practice was present in my beloved Ghana.

For those of you who aren't aware of what FGM is, it is the practice of female circumcision which often includes the removal of the clitoris and the removal of the outer and/or the inner labia. This usually occurs at a very young age with the consent of the female's parents/ guardians. It is supposedly carried out for religious/ cultural reasons.

Firstly, looking at the physical aspect of this, it is not safe. This isn't carried out in a sanitary hospital somewhere, but usually in the home of the older female who performs the procedure. In many communities this older female is held in high regard because of the work she does. Excessive bleeding is the norm with risks of serious infection and in the very worst cases, death occurs. Some forms of FGM (infibulation) involve stitching the vaginal opening closed with only a tiny hole left for the expulsion of menstrual blood. In these cases, the usual risks of childbirth are greatly heightened along with the risk of suffocation of babies in the womb. I feel squeamish even thinking about some of these things.

Now FGM occurs for various reasons but one of the the main ones is to reduce the "plague" of female promiscuity. Because clearly when a woman has sex she has sex by herself and the men sleeping with her to put her at risk of being labelled "promiscuous" have nothing to do with it . There are no proven health benefits for FGM and the fact that this practice still goes on (despite being banned by several countries) can only be described as barbaric. I don't care who I offend but there can be no possible rationalisation for this.

Going back to FGM in Ghana, we have one of the lowest rates of FGM in African. However, the 9-15% rate is still far too high imho. It should be zero. FGM is almost non-existent in southern Ghana and more likely to be found in the North among the Frafra, the Kassena, the Kussasi etc. Whilst looking for more information on FGM in Ghana, I came across this:
"The practice among some groups in Ghana appears to have few spiritual roots. It is not perpetuated by religion, but rather by traditional tribal beliefs. Some believe it leads to cleanliness and fidelity of the woman. Others believe it will increase fertility and prevent the death of first-born babies. It is also seen as a way to suppress a woman’s sexual desires and make her less promiscuous. Other common beliefs are that children born to uncircumcised women are stubborn and troublesome and more likely to be blinded or otherwise damaged if the mother’s clitoris touches them during birth. In some areas the presence of a clitoris in women suggests she is a man and must be buried in men’s clothing and the funeral performed as a man’s when she dies. Uncircumcised women are regarded by some as unclean, less attractive and less desirable for marriage."

Now as I said previously, I was unaware whilst growing up that things like this occurred in Ghana. Was I being hopelessly naive? To Ghana's credit, she has been one of the most proactive countries in eliminating FGM and has actually arrested people for violating the ban put in place against FGM. One of our neighbours, Burkina Faso, with an almost 70% rate of FGM in women, has begun construction of a "Pleasure hospital" where surgical reconstruction will be carried out on victims of FGM. It's encouraging to see that in our part of Africa, at least, something is being done about this practice.

I'm not trying to write a whole essay here but I was just wondering if I was alone in my (incorrect) belief that FGM was not a part of Ghana? Has anybody had any experiences or know of the way in which FGM is perceived in Ghana (or anywhere else in Africa)?

There is lots of information about FGM on the web, in libraries etc. If anybody is interested in a more personal account of an issue that affects over 130 million women worldwide, Somalian supermodel Waris Dirie's book Desert Flower is a good read.
Image source

6 opinionated people have something to say:

Nsoromma...Child of the Heavens said...

You're not alone in your ignorance. Until I read Dirie's books I was under big delusions about the prevalence of FGM. I mean I knew it happened but I didn't know that it affected so many to this day!

I know there are (quite obviously) people out there who agree with FGM, but honestly, does it really do anything but cause pain, misery and frequently death? To jump on my occasional feminist rant, this is all due to a need in some societies for the male to attain and retain dominance over the female and it's horrific. It's so deeply indoctrinated that I wonder how it will ever leave the remotest corners of this earth.

But to Ghana, oh my country, I knew it exists in Ghana. I am so happy that laws exist regarding it and that genuine prosecution occurs. Progress is good no matter how slow it is.

Mike said...

I know FGM is done in Ghana. I had thought of a solution; Create a Sex Health Education group. This group would visit every village, sit down and have a discussion with the "slicers". I'm sure every village has notable "slicers" and they are not in hiding.
I'm saying discussion because each side will learn from the other but I can bet that the "slicers" will learn more and give up their beliefs on FGM.

Nana said...

I was shocked when I heard how high the prevalence rate of FGM in Ghana was. I think when it doesn't happen in your tribe you are less aware of its prevalence

Nsoromma...Child of the Heavens said...

To be fair Ghana does have one of the lowest FGM rates in the countries where it is practised and there is enforcable legislation. We should praise God for that and just keep pushing to eradicate it within Ghana, and elsewhere.

Sankofa said...

@Nana I think that's precisely why I was unaware of the situation. It's extremely easy to be ignorant when you have never been exposed to a certain situation. I intend to remove that excuse though!

@Nsoromma At least there's a tiny positive but the percentage should still be zero.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Related Posts with Thumbnails