Maryum Saifee was seven-years-old when she suffered from female genital mutilation, where female genital organs are altered and damaged for non-medical reasons. Women having their clitoris partially or fully removed as passage to womanhood is more common than we imagine.
According to World Health Organization, FGM is most common in Africa, where Somalia ranks first with 98% of women undergoing the procedure, Guinea with 96%, Egypt with 91% and Sudan with 88%. The victims are between 15 and 49 years old. The procedure is defined as a violation of the woman’s body and a public health issue by WHO, which can cause irreversible psychological and sexual damages.
Female Genital Mutilation includes clitoridectomy, excision, infibulation and other harmful procedures. Clitoridectmy is the partial and full removal of the clitoris, excision is related to a partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora, and infibulation creates a seal by cutting and placing the labia minora in a different position as a way of assuring the girl will not have any sexual relationship before marriage. The procedures also makes it harder for females to urinate, menstruate and have sexual relations.
However, the most shocking part is that many women like Saifee had no idea what they were going through, since they are so young and do not understanding the situation. The process is usually done by other female relatives. In Saifee’s case, it was her aunt, a doctor, that performed FGM on Saifee without her or her family’s consent to keep the tradition of the community Dawoodi Bohra.
The WHO states that some of the immediate complications include severe pain, infections, injury to surrounding genital tissue, shock and, in extreme cases, death. Long-term consequences include pain during intercourse and psychological problems like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to Newsweek, in the United States, FGM was most common in New York, Washington and Minneapolis in 2015. Since 1996, Congress has been passing legislation making female genital mutilation illegal. According to the US National Library of Medicine, around 513,000 women are at risk in the United States of suffering from FGM.
These numbers show that although society is evolving, people are still indulging in damaging practices such as FGM.