The proponents of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) liken it to imbalu- a passage from youth to adulthood. Imbalu is circumcision, which by the way is an upheld practice for health reasons. Fast forward to FGM, and you wonder how a passage to adulthood can be tainted by all these wrongs.
Women and girls living with FGM have had a very sinister experience; given both the long term and short term risks they are exposed to, by and during the practice. A closer look at these risks shows you just how bad the exposure is.
The most notorious short term effects are severe pain and excessive bleeding. As the severing is done, nerve endings and the clitoral artery are easily damaged. Remember, anesthesia is rarely used, so a woman has to brave every second of the pain and gushing blood from the vagina.This goes on for several days. They tend to result into shock and psychological consequences, and genital tissue swelling as the wound is exposed to various infections.
The wound healing too can be impaired and abnormal scars around the genitalia follow suit. They suffer painful urination due to urethral obstruction, menstrual problems, recurrent UTIs, chronic genital infections and menstrual complications.
Does that sound bad? There is worse. In the long run, a lady can have sexual problems like decreased lubrication hence pain and tissue wear and tear during sex. There is also an increased possibility of giving birth by caesarian section, higher risk to HIV, and even possibly death due to infections including tetanus.
The women out there are cowering in the shadow of this bizarre experience, and it’s our voice that can help them out of this crisis. As we celebrate the International day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, add your voice to the many calling for an end to this practice. There are a million and two reasons to end FGM, and it starts with each of us.