“The sound of the scissors cutting the flesh between Soraya Miré’s legs is a sound she will never forget” (Ottney, 2012). What Soraya Miré was experiencing was Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the procedure by which all or some of the female sex organs are removed. The history of this ritual is long, and the effects are not only physical it has many long-lasting mental and psychological consequences.
The practice of FGM on infants, girls, and adolescents predates Islam and Christianity. Strong evidence points to FGM being practiced in the times of the Pharaohs. Some of the earliest instances of FGM have been found in the tombs of female mummies in Egypt (Nielson, 2010). Today the World Health Organization (WHO) (2012) website states that the women and girls who are most at risk for this procedure dwell in western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and among migrants from these areas. However, there was a small window of time at the end of April 2010 in the United States that gave permission to Pediatrics Doctors to perform a version of FGM. According to Belluck (2010) the American Academy of Pediatrics “suggested that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls from these cultures if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision.” Modern societies reasoning for continuing this practice share some of the same reason as the ancient Egyptian. There is a mix of cultural and religious beliefs although there is no scripture that can be found to condone this treatment. Many of the cultures involved believe FGM is necessary to maintain health, secure ones virginity, and obtain a husband, fertility, marital fidelity, beauty, financial, and initiation to becoming a woman.
Female Genital Mutilation is generally performed girls/women range in age from infancy to 15. However, if a woman has refused the surgery previously husbands and midwifes have been known to carry out this procedure when a woman is giving birth. Some of the tools most commonly used to implement this surgery are dirty razors, scissors, stones, and broken glass. The there is no anesthetics used, the girl/woman is held down by the women in her community, this usually consist of her mother, sisters, aunts, and grandmother or better known as the people most trusted in the young girls life. I peered between my legs and saw the gypsy. The old woman looked at me sternly, a dead look in her eyes, then foraged through an old carpetbag. She reached inside with her long fingers and fished out a broken razor blade. I saw dried blood on the jagged edge. She spit on it and wiped it on her dress. While she was scrubbing, my world went dark as Mama tied a blindfold over my eyes.
The next thing I felt was my flesh being cut away. I heard the blade sawing back and forth through my skin. The feeling was indescribable. I didn't move, telling myself the more I did, the longer the torture would take. Unfortunately, my legs began to quiver and shake uncontrollably of their own accord, and I prayed, Please, God, let it be over quickly. Soon it was, because I passed out.
When I woke up, my blindfold was off and I saw the gypsy woman had piled a stack of thorns from an acacia tree next to her. She used these to puncture holes in my skin, and then poked a strong white thread through the holes to sew me up. My legs were completely numb, but the pain between them was so intense that I wished I would die.
My memory ends at that instant; until I opened my eyes the woman was gone. My legs had been tied together with strips of cloth binding me from my ankles to my hips so I couldn’t move. I turned my head toward the rock; it was drenched with blood as if an animal had been slaughtered there. Pieces of my flesh lay on top, drying in the sun (Dirie, 1999).
FGM can have a profound,