Jan 15, 2019 in Informative

Female Genital Mutilation in Somalia Essay


Female genital mutilation is the procedure that involves partial or total removal of parts of the female genitalia or different alteration of the female genitals which often involves inflicting pain and shedding of blood. This was a common practice in Africa and some few other regions in the world. In the republic of Somalia, the practice has a 95% prevalence rate and it is primarily undertaken to girls between the ages of 4 to 14 depending on the locality and family believes. FGM can result to severe damage to the body, affecting the physical, psychosocial and mental well-being of the victims. The health impacts of the FGM are not only immediate but also long-term. Despite the recognition of many international laws that outlaw the practice, lack of their validation in Islam and the lack of global advocacy against the practice make FGM to continue being embedded in the Somali culture (Karanja, 2003). 

Ablation of parts of the female genitalia is a social ritual that is practiced in over 28 countries in Africa and Middle East in addition to other Islamic Asian countries. This ritual is estimated to affect over 130 million women in the world and it is one of the most severe forms of women injustice (Korn & Eichhorst, 2006). Most women are said to have undergone the practice before puberty. The practice is undertaken in remote rural setting by untrained midwives in the village. They use such instruments like knifes, razors and broken razors at times which are never sterilized. The ritual is also not performed in the proper sanitation required to undertake a medical surgery of any magnitude. Those in urban centers and still subscribe to the same school of thought may engage the use of a doctor to undertake the operation. 

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Some of the renegades of the practice wishing to have the procedure performed to their daughters may opt to have just a few parts of the genitalia removed. This is done to appease the ancestors when the blood is shed and some parts removed. However, the adherents if the practice require that an operation be done to remove the clitoris, labia minora and also severing the internal parts of the labia majora. The edges labia majora are then stitched together leaving a small aperture that serves as the passage for urine and point of menstrual discharge. To make matters worse, there is not a single case that the use of anesthesia has been reported.

Effects of FGM to women

Apart from the obvious pain that is felt during the procedure, there are long term sexual, psychological and physiological effects of the practice. The short term consequences can range from shock, hemorrhage, infection to STDs or even death.  The long term effects include genital malfunction, chronic pelvis complications loss of libido, delayed menarche, and recurrent urinary tract infections. Pregnant women who have undergone the cut present a number of obstetric complications since the fetus is exposed many infectious diseases. The fetus faces the risk of having its head crushed in the physically impaired birth canal. In case of an infibulated woman whose vaginal opening was tightly closed, the opening has to be extended through making a cut in order to allow for the baby to emerge. In addition, perinatal tears, fistula and obstructed labor can take place. The recurrent cut and stitch process that is repeated in every birth leaves an grotesque scar on the tissue which results to a direct adverse health effect. Finally, FGM increases the possibilities of biological vulnerability of HIV transmission when exposed to the virus.  

Transnational Feminist Network dealing with FGM

One of the main transnational Feminist Network helping to eliminate this practice is Somalia Women in Diaspora. It has been conducting research on the methodology and analysis in order to highlight the ways in which the practice has been a disadvantage to the society due to gender, sexual orientation and the geopolitical location. These factors have been realized to be the main influence to the lives of women affected by the FGM activities.  Transformational feminist education has been the core actions for transformation in the society. It has challenged knowledge produced under a variety of patriarchal conditions that tend to remain silent on the issue. 

The organisation has been working with the international community to provide knowledge to the community on the dangers of FGM. As a gender issue, the group networks with other women organizations in the globe to increase the level of gender equality. It also partners with civil societies in the neighborhood to explore how TFN and work towards women empowerment and gender minorities in Somalia. 

Ethical responsibilities in fighting FGM in Somalia

Even though justified by the society and the parents of the children who do it, the practice is not medically justifiable. Professional doctors who offer to be requested to perform the procedure should consistently refuse to do it even after being paid by the parents.  In the nineteenth century, there was a common believe that the American women who failed to experience an orgasm with her partner was subject to FGM. Therefore, not only did FGM cure the problem of masturbation, it also set forth the women’s inability to experience normal sexual behaviors and achieve an orgasm with their husbands. 

To the Somali societies, the process of withstanding a female genital cutting is an indicator of their preparedness in facing the rough life ahead. It proves that the woman is mentally strong to face the difficulties in adult life. The ritual also prepares the candidate to marriage with the hope of starting a family. However, this argument does not hold water because some of the girls encounter this rite of passage as early as 4 years and their preparedness to adult life is not even close. 

There have been many objections to these practices concerned with the peculiar circumstance in which it is done. According to Amnesty international, the report indicates that some communities use blunt objects for the cut. This it is a direct violation of international human rights because it is done without their consent and with no medical justification. In particular, some of the brutal operations can leave the woman with severe conditions of hemorrhaging, abscesses and infections and at times long term loss of sensation during sex. 

Another objection is concerned with the inability of allowing the young women to make a choice. This is due to the fact that most cutting in Somalia are recorded to take place when a child is still very young possibly between 4 and 10 years. This denies the child a very crucial opportunity of making choices in regards to what direction they would like their life to take. The community pressure to take part in the rite is so enormous that the kinds become too vulnerable and unable to make any informed decision. Therefore, I do believe that anyone have an opportunity in making the change to the community in the attempt to eliminate this grotesque practice. 

Ways of addressing gender inequalities and human right abuses against women

The most important factor to consider in addressing issue relating to gender inequalities is sensitization. There are various ways in which sensitization can be done to the Somali community in addressing the social crimes perpetrated into them. Lack of knowledge and exposure has been the props in which some of the archaic behaviors and practices are supported. According to Mottin and Palmieri (2011), women themselves do not understand what is good for them and thus clings so much t tradition and religion to an extent that they are submissive to everything. 

The first step to address this gap is through educating them on the dangers of some cultural practices like FGM. Female genital mutilation is performed by women to their fellow women. Most of them do not understand the dangers they pose to their children and the society in general. By writing medical reports and conducting public training programs, the information can flow to them. Through such understanding, it is expected that the people can realize the facts about the practice and with time the practice can be reduced. 

Another most effective way of doing this is to include sanitation programs and facts about the practice in the school syllabus. This can help the small kids to know what fate surround them and understand what action can be taken whenever they encounter the same. This is because; the society is so much into the practice that they do not let their children to reach the age of making their personal decisions. With information, the girl-child can have a stronger ability of making choices when it comes to undergoing the rite (Bennett & Pereira, 2013). 

Experiences of gender inequalities with the final paper topic

There is a lot of similarities between the gender inequality situations witnessed in the previous papers.  Studies have shown that due to poverty, most women are fully dependent on their husbands and are more likely to be turned to domestic servants and more submissive to the demands of the society. Because of these norms and cultural believes that they are subjected to, most of them do not educate enough to have better paying jobs and reduce the income gap. In addition, the government is not doing enough to address the situation and this determines the susceptibility of women. Though Somalia had not have a stable government for more than two decades, the government of the day should be impartial to address the gender gap by introducing laws that push for equality in the labor force. 


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