Female Circumcision: Beliefs, Myths, and Common Practices Essay

Submitted By britneycmclean
Words: 3325
Pages: 14

Female Circumcision Aminata Diop escaped from her home in Mali to Paris in an attempt to avoid female circumcision, seeking political and religious asylum for all women and young girls the widely spread practice affected. Aminata’s mother was very disappointed when she heard of her daughter’s refusal to be excised; she pleaded to Aminata that she had been circumcised and if her child had not undergone the tradition also it would be very shameful and embarrassing for the family. As many other African cultures did, Aminata’s mother believed the Koran demanded that parents have their daughters excised so they will be clean and be good Muslims. When Aminata explained to her fiancé that she refused to be excised, he replied by saying that he would not marry a woman that has not gone through the procedure because they would not be able to show their faces in the mosque or even pray because she could never be a proper Muslim. In the end Aminata was banished from her home and her mother also divorced from her father and shamed for birthing a bad child (Walker A & Parmar P, 1996, pg. 257-260). Now living in Paris, Aminata, wishes to go back to Mali once her father passes away and help to fight against this practice. She especially wants to help her sister who is facing the same threat (Walker A & Parmar P 1996, pg. 262). Female circumcision is defined as the removal of all or just part of the external female genitalia (Heitman R, 2000, para. 2). The practice is consistently carried out in third world countries such as central Africa, in the southern Sahara, and many parts of the Middle East. It is also known to affect girls in Egypt, Ethiopia, and some small parts of Malaysia (Bacquet-Walsh et al, 2009, sec. 2). Like Aminata’s experience, female circumcision is practiced in many different African cultures for religious reasons. Just as Aminata explained to the interviewer in the book Warrior Marks, religious traditions require all females to be circumcised so they remain in the good name of the Lord or whoever the higher power is in their religious practices. Not being circumcised then is a sin and those women that believe it is not essential part of life shall not be able to reach heaven (Abusharaf R, 1998, pg.123). But not all countries and cultures based their decisions to have their young daughters cut for reasons that include religion, for example tradition and health play a major role. To begin, in some cultures female circumcision is intended to remove the maleness from a female, because the clitoris has the sole purpose of enhancing the sexual experience and many cultures believe that only men should receive pleasurable satisfaction from sex, a clitoris has a male connotation. In other cultures, the practice is believed to enhance fertility and decrease infant and maternal mortality. Connected with this thought, females who are not circumcised are believed to be infertile and not able to bare children (Edwards K, 1994, pg.165-167). In regards to health, female circumcision is thought to keep a woman healthy and alive for a longer period of time. The practice is believed to have healing powers and promote cleanliness by removing the unhygienic secretion-producing parts of a female. Specifically in Sudan, female genital mutilation is believed to cure or prevent a childhood worm disease. Also cultures believe that the practice must occur in order to prevent the enlargement of the clitoris or labia. Also the clitoris is sometimes seen as ugly or an unattractive body part so circumcision is enforced to create a flat or smooth area that is pleasing and satisfactory to the male (Edwards K, 1994, pg. 168-170). The most important or widely practiced reason for female circumcision is to prevent promiscuity in women. Kimberly Edwards of the Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Heath, writes that cultures like those of Egypt and Ethiopia believe that a woman can not control her sexuality unless…