Female Genital Mutilation? What is it?

What can we do about it?


I just finished a book. It was a very disturbing and heart rending story. It made me cry in several parts. The book is entitled, Do They Hear You When You Cry (Paperback), by Fauziya Kassindja.

It is about the author's, escape from Togo, Africa, from an arranged marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Fauziya came to America for political asylum and was put in jail — a real jail — in America — and instead of being taken care of she was treated like a criminal, and sometimes even worse than a criminal.

What she suffered in Americais simply unbelievable. It makes me very sad that not only are immigrants who come here for protection treated the way she was treated, but that anyone in jail should be treated the way she was treated. Is it truthful? Well, it's a high profile case and she and one of her attorneys wrote the book.

From Amazon:

"Kassindja was at the center of the landmark U.S. case that legitimized giving asylum to a woman who flees her country to avoid ritual genital mutilation. This is her story and that of her lawyer, Bashir who took up her cause after Kassindja was imprisoned by the INS upon arriving here from Togo."
(pic: http://www.manymaps.com/nl/dept_412.html)

As for FGM, following is just a little bit about it, and there is much more if you research on the web. FGM is a huge problem, much larger than I imagined and not only does it occur in Africa, but also throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia. It is a product, not of Islamic Fundamentalism, but was adopted as a practice by Islamic Fundamentalism from anciently rooted tribal societies. Today, both Islamic Fundamentalists and some ancient tribal societies still practice FGM.

"Female circumcision has been practiced around the world for ages, as a religious and social custom. It is still performed today in many cultures, and is prevalent in many African countries, parts of Asia and Europe, and has begun to surface in certain immigrant societies in Canada, Australia, and the United States. Often referred to as "Female Genital Mutilation" by its many opponents, it has been compared to child and spousal abuse, as well as to male circumcision, although it is a secular practice, and is not mandated by any religion. There are concerns about the detrimental effects of female circumcision on a woman's health, especially when it is performed under unsanitary conditions and by a person other than a trained medical practitioner."

This page lists a number of articles and describes the diff between types of and between male and female circumcision, the varieties FGM's, etc.

According to: http://www.scottchurchimages.com/enviro/sjfgm.asp

"An estimated 130-137 million women alive today have been victims of FGM. Reliable statistics on FGM are difficult to come by, as the cultures which practice it worldwide tend to be secretive about the practice, particularly as global sentiment against it is growing. But according to the best estimates from the World Health Organization, 130 to 137 million women worldwide have suffered the practice, and an estimated 4 to 5 million women per year are subjected to it — an average of 11,000 to 14,000 daily.
FGM is known to occur in some 30 countries and on every continent, including North America.

It occurs most commonly in impoverished and isolated areas, chiefly in Africa and throughout the Muslim world (though the practice transcends religious boundaries, and appears to have picked up various religious rationalizations from whatever spiritual tradition it occurs in). It is estimated that 168,000 women are at risk for the practice in the United States alone — chiefly among immigrant populations — and nearly half of all domestic health care providers have observed complications from it.
FGM has severe immediate and long-term health consequences.
Immediate medical consequences include, shock, extreme pain, hemorrhage, local and systemic infections, anemia, bone fracture (clavicle, hip, humerus and femur), and even death. Over 15 percent of cut women die of shock and blood loss within two weeks of being cut — this amounts to nearly 750,000 women annually worldwide. Long-term consequences include lameness (from tendons cut during the practice), infertility, incontinence, HIV/AIDS (from dirty tools), hepatitis B and C, death during childbirth, infant death during delivery (due to oxygen deprivation from physical deformity in the birth canal), dermoid cysts, fistulae, chronic pain, and a complete loss of sexual satisfaction. FGM is one of the most, if not the most, severe health care crises in the world today."

I am also reading... right now a book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam (Hardcover)

"Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Sound pronunciation?), born Ayaan Hirsi Magan 13 November 1969[1] in Mogadishu, Somalia, is a Dutch feminist and politician, daughter of Hirsi Magan Isse. She is a prominent (and often controversial) author, film maker, and critic of Islam. She was a member of the Tweede Kamer (the Lower House of the States-General of the Netherlands) for the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) from January 30 2003 until May 16, 2006.
Hirsi Ali has had to maintain a high level of security due to threats against her life for voicing views critical of Islam. For example, her film Submission(see below) , directed by Theo van Gogh (who himself was assassinated for this film), made her one of the targets of the Hofstad Network.[2]
On May 15, 2006, officials of the Netherlands government cast doubt on Hirsi Ali's status as a Dutch national, because she provided false information in her application for refugee status in the Netherlands. She later used the same false information when she applied for, and was granted, Dutch citizenship. The Dutch minister of immigration and integration, Rita Verdonk, moved to annul her citizenship, a move that was later overridden on the urging of Parliament. She released to the New York Times personal letters from her father and other family members that affirmed her story about fleeing a forced marriage.[3] On June 27, 2006, the Dutch government announced that Hirsi Ali would keep her Dutch citizenship after she signed the mea culpa dictate that indirectly lead to the fall of the second Balkenende cabinet.
On May 16, Hirsi Ali announced her resignation from parliament and confirmed her previous statement that she would move to the United States to work at the American Enterprise Institute, a pro-market economics think tank. Her prospective arrival in September 2006 was welcomed by Deputy US Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.[4]"
... Bio: http://www.answers.com/topic/ayaan-hirsi-ali

Also see: Interview 2003

The film mentioned above, Hirsi and her friend made is about Isalmic free speech and the mistreatment of Islamic women.

"Submission is a 10-minute English-language film directed by Theo van Gogh and written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Liberal party member of the Lower House of the Netherlands Parliament.
The film's title is a direct translation of the word "Islam". The film suggests the mistreatment of women born to Muslim families. The film was shown on the Dutch public broadcasting network (VPRO) on August 29, 2004. It portrays a Muslim woman (dressed with a transparent black clothing) as having been beaten and raped by a relative. The bodies are used in the film as a canvas for verses from the Qur'an.
The film is controversial. It was perceived as insulting by many Muslims, and several people loyal to Hirsi Ali's cause against abuse and oppression of women expressed doubts about the effectiveness of this film, fearing that it would only polarize positions.
On November 2, 2004, Theo van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri. A letter [1] pinned to the body with a dagger linked the murder to Van Gogh's film and his views regarding Islam. It called for jihad against kafir (kafir is an Arabic word for someone who does not believe in God), America, Europe, the Netherlands and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
After the murder of Theo van Gogh, Submission gained international fame. It was withdrawn from a film festival in Rotterdam, but was shown on television in a number of European countries"

Hirsi's book may also be found at Amazon.Com
The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation
for Women and Islam (Hardcover)
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes in her book about the backwardness of the majority of the fundamentalist Islamic world and asserts that the key to bringing Islam forward into the modern world are obtaining Human Rights for all, men included. She makes the case that men as well as women are trapped by the outdated beliefs of the Fundamentalist Branch of Islamic society, culturally, religiously and socially.

Please Pray to the God of Your Conscience that these horrible practices may be stopped immediately, if not sooner, and support the protection of innocents if ever called upon.

In the Light and Love of the One Light Over All, Jessika