Sunday 8 April 2007

FGM banned in Eritrea

Too prevalent for comfort

This is topic I think experts would celebrate better than I could in this write up. I was quite shocked to find out how prevalent it was in Africa, Middle-East and Indonesia, no more so when I also heard that the practices does still thrive in Nigeria.

Learning that Eritrea has banned the practice of Female Genital Mutilation or Circumcision (FGM or FGC) is definitely great news and to be celebrated.

It marks a beginning of what should be a wave of the civilising of customs, traditions and religious practices that cause undue physical harm without any particular health benefit apart from a modicum of social acceptance.

With this law, the practitioners of these acts of mutilation who are usually female too and matriarchs of those communities when caught could face fines and possible imprisonments.

Enforcing the law

However, the issue at hand would be how to break down the ranks after this illegal act has been committed; people can be sworn to silence, risk ostracism within their communities or even suffer worse fates like "honour killing" - basically, one wonders about the enforceability of this law.

Beyond this is the need to health and material support for the victims of this heinous mutilation which at times to other health complications.

Now, we also have the aspect of Male Genital Mutilation known as circumcision which seemingly has a religious progeny has been found to provide health benefits in arresting the spread of HIV/AIDS, this is no way comparable to the mutilation that females suffer as a rite of passage into womanhood.

Conserving the good bits

In all, there is no way that the 4 listed types of mutilation which are just too revolting and despicable to list here but covers excision of critical parts of female sexual organs and in some cases the application of corrosive substances can be justified in the 21st Century, in fact, it is violent abuse and now considered a violation of human rights by the UN. The other types are no less atrocious in trying to understand what they are trying to achieve.

It is time to ensure that these archaic and barbaric customs are rolled back and consigned to history; we should not condone or countenance anymore the sacrifice of human beings to customs, traditions, culture or religious practices just for the sake of keeping uncivilised practices alive.

We can conserve the positive parts of our heritage whilst losing the negative parts without necessarily losing our identity, acts of separation and differentiation through mutilation have no place in what is now a global village of interacting peoples.

Finally, it is a welcome development that even Muslim scholars have called for an end to this practice, with bans and sanctions; it might require religious leaders sounding the word from the pulpit about how unnecessary these acts are without rubbing up too hard on long held but out-dated customs - the abuse must be stopped forthwith.


FGM on the rise in the UK - 2004

Images of FGC - cautionary viewing advised

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