Female Circumcision: Rite of Passage Or Violation of Rights?
By Anam Ansari

May 25, 2007
Think of yourself as a twelve-year-old girl. You are surrounded by a group of women. They are all people you know Ė they are your neighbours, your aunts, and your friends. In front of you stands a strange woman with a pair of scissors in her hands. You feel scared and donít understand why everyone is standing around you. The woman seems to be getting closer, and closer, and closerÖ you tightly squeeze your motherís hand and the next thing you feel is agonizing pain, and you fall unconscious.
Female circumcision - also known as female genital cutting. For young girls in third world countries, such as Africa and Egypt, the above scenario is of no surprise. At times, we question our religion and wonder why we have to do certain things God has ordered us to doÖ imagine being one of the two million girls who undergo this process each year. Approximately 97% of women aged between 15 and 45 undergo circumcision in Egypt. One of the first of many questions I ask is a simple Why? Why are young girls subjected to such a nonsensical and dangerous form of culture? Those girls donít deserve their body parts to be cut by razor blades, scissors, kitchen knives and pieces of glass, which are also used on other girls. They donít deserve to live the rest of their life in discomfort caused by infections. They donít deserve to suffer throbbing pain each and every time they go to the bathroom. No one deserves to live a life like thatÖ then why are innocent girls a victim of this mythical, religious form of ceremony? One would think it is used as a weapon of torture, but the sad truth is that people in those countries consider it a ďceremonyĒ in their culture. Some people may think that the religion practised in these countries state female circumcision is okay, but no religion states that. No religion whatsoever allows female genital cutting because it is a painful process and absolutely unnecessary. Female circumcision is a ritual created by the nationís ancestors over the years. It is considered the assurance of loyalty to a womanís future husband. As hard as it is to believe, some communities donít even consider a girl for marriage until and unless they have been circumcised.
Many girls donít live to see light after their operation because of shock; as well as the treatment is performed by illiterate people who donít know the first thing about human anatomy or medicine. This form of culture has gone on from the early 1900s till today, mostly in Africa. Whenever mentioned in those communities, it is not considered wrong or merciless, but actually seen as culture and supposedly religion. However, there is always hope. Hope to stop this brutal and inhumane action. I can say with full confidence that every single one of those girls who have undergone this terrible operation hope that no one else will ever have to go through what they did. So for those 100 million women who have been a victim of female circumcision, I take the first step by speaking up, in hope to be followed by others.


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