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FGM:  The Case for International Duplicity

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Public Notice

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About Female Genital Mutilation
By Marie-Jose Ragab  
September 1, 2000

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the official international terminology
used to describe the worst form of human torture today, affecting an
estimated 130 million women, girls and female babies.  Although
expediently described as an "African" custom, the practice exists only in
about half of all the countries located in Africa, tracing a wide band in
the middle of the continent, stretching from East to West.  They are:

Ghana, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Central Africa, Chad,
Ethiopia, Djibouti, Benin, Gambia, Kenya, Guinea, Mauritania, Nigeria,
Niger, Somalia, Uganda, Zaire,  the Sudan, Senegal, Togo, The Gambia,
Burkina Faso, Mali, Yemen, and Egypt.  Mutilations are also found among
some populations in the Arabian Peninsula (Oman, Bahrain, Yemen and the
United Arab Emirates) and in Asia (Indonesia and Malaysia). 

The extent to which external female genitalia is atrophied, or nearly
eliminated, varies from one country to another, from one ethnic group to
the next. 
Classified under several medical categories, the most extreme
form of maiming is infibulation, whereby most and even all of the genital
area is removed.  The victim is then "stitched" in such a way that only a
tiny cavity is left for bodily fluids to escape.  Often unable to do so,
or just barely, they accumulate into the body's cavities.  As an adult
woman in later life, she will literally be cut open and closed again in
rhythm with the various demands of marriage and childbirth.  With no
anesthesia, just like the first time. 

Because most of the immigrants from these nations continue to cling to
the practice once abroad, the torture has spread to Europe, North America
and wherever such communities have formed.  Conducted in secrecy, fear,
and physical retaliation if necessary, nearly immune to the rare laws few
will attempt to enforce, the butchery goes on, visiting lifelong medical
and psychiatric wreckage upon the female children of other societies that
would never be practiced upon our own. 

M.J. Ragab

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