#HLWDK Daily Health Tips: International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women

November 25th every year marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Violence can be physical, psychological and/or sexual. In honour of this day, I repeat a post on female genital mutilation (FGM), a very ‘good’ example of violence against women.

Q: Good day Dr, please I need more enlightenment on child circumcision: is it also for female child? And what is the reason for it? Is there any negative effect?

A: Thank you so much for writing in. Circumcision is a no-no for the female child. This procedure called Female Genital Mutilation has been recognized as a violation of the fundamental human rights of the girl child and it has absolutely no medical benefit. Indeed, it subjects poor, defenseless and innocent children to needless pain and torture!

For those who don’t know, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also referred to as female circumcision is a procedure in which there is partial or complete removal of the female genitals or any other injury to the female genital organs for reasons other than medical. So, practices like cutting off all or part of the clitoris, cutting off the surrounding lips of the vagina, narrowing the vaginal opening, any harmful procedure to the female genitals like piercing, pricking etc in any combination, all form part of this very terrible act. Why do people do this? It is wrongly assumed in some quarters that this prevents a woman from being promiscuous in future (removal of the clitoris would greatly reduce sexual pleasure and for those that have the vaginal opening reduced, the sheer pain of having any object pass through that opening is enough to discourage sexual intercourse), it is culturally accepted as a means of showing modesty in some cultures, it is thought to be religiously appropriate (no one can show where any religion specifically states this) and others just do it, because everyone in their circle does this!

In the olden days, this was practiced by village birth attendants who would use unsterilized instruments, aiding the spread of diseases like HIV/AIDS. Today, this is still a concern but even more discomforting is the fact that some medical personnel (???qualified) also participate in this.

FGM causes immediate and long term complications. Immediate complications are not far-fetched. The child is subjected to terrible pain, she could bleed heavily and could even end up in shock. There may be injury to surrounding genital tissue and there could be introduction of infection, especially if the conditions are not hygienic or when unsterilized instruments are used.

Long term complications include difficulty with sexual intercourse especially if the vaginal opening was reduced. This also presents a challenge during childbirth. Other complications include recurrent urinary tract infections and infertility.

So, my advice is to all mothers who wonder about female circumcision is ‘leave your daughter’s genitals well alone! Love and care for her and as she grows, encourage her to take pride in herself and who she is. Encourage her to go out and conquer the world.’ The reasons usually given for FGM really boil down to wanting to control the girl child. Why is it wrong for her to enjoy sexual intercourse when it’s time? Several homes have been wrecked by the fact that the lady who’s been circumcised cannot enjoy sexual intercourse and/or has to go through several episodes of pain (sometimes, even her partner suffers pain too) before she can finally settle into it.
Finally, join the fight against this horrible act. Tell every mother you know about what you have learnt. Together, we can stamp this act out.

For more on this subject, please click on https://chatwithdrketch.com/2016/11/27/daily-health-tips-domestic-violence-in-the-news/

Have a good night, everyone!

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