Cutters turn Razors on Babies to Evade FGM/C law

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines female genital mutilation/cutting  FGM/C as any injury to female genital organs for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons.

WHO has stated that consequences can include lifelong debilitating psychological and physical trauma – such as extreme pain during childbirth, sexual relations and urination. For details about what FGM/C entails, see Classification of Female Genital Mutilation.

Some three million girls, the majority under 15 years old, are cut every year. Amnesty International estimates that over 130 million women worldwide have been affected by some form of FGM/C. FGM/C is mainly practiced in African countries.

In the African country of Burkino Faso, babies instead of young girls are undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) as families and communities  seek to evade laws prohibiting the practice. Despite the fact that FGM has been illegal there since 1996 and is punishable by lengthy prison terms and fines, the number of FGM victims under five years old is on the increase. At least 70 newborns nationwide were admitted for hospital emergency care after botched cuttings in the first three months of 2008, according to the government.

In the video below, UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on a group of Ethiopian girls who have just undergone genital mutilation, and UNICEF’s work to help end the harmful practice.

IRIN Africa | West Africa | Burkina Faso | BURKINA FASO: Cutters turn razors on babies to evade FGM/C law | Children Gender Issues Human Rights | Feature.

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5 thoughts on “Cutters turn Razors on Babies to Evade FGM/C law”

  1. We care about a lot of the same things. I wrote about this also. It really pains me to see that FGM is so prevalent still. These young girls…and now babies…are being butchered. Often they have lifelong complications from FGM, incontinence, some can’t have children, and some even die from the practice. It is very brutal, done with a razor blade or even a piece of broken glass. Girls who bleed excessively in some countries are even thought to be witches and are killed. It is a horrendous practice against young girls and is a result of ignorance and longtime tradition.

    1. Bernie, thank you for reading and commenting.

      The policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on male circumcision is that, “Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.” So, obviously one can reasonably make a case that circumcision for both males and females is wrong. However, it is also important to acknowledge some important differences between male and female circumcision.

      Male circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin that covers the glans or head of the penis. Generally this procedure is performed in the hospital, with hygienic or sterilized instruments, shortly after birth. It can also take place as part of a religious or cultural ceremony after an infant boy leaves the hospital. In addition, some adult men are circumcised for medical, hygienic, or aesthetic reasons.

      Medical research has shown that male circumcision provides significant protection against HIV infection; circumcised males are two to eight times less likely to become infected with HIV. Infant circumcision gives almost 100% protection against cancer of the penis. Men who are circumcised are 25 percent less likely to become infected with herpes. Cancer of the cervix in women is due to the Human Papilloma Virus. It thrives under and on the foreskin from where it can be transmitted during intercourse. An article in the British Medical Journal in April 2002 suggested that at least 20% of cancer of the cervix would be avoided if all men were circumcised.

      Studies of the AAP indicate that the complication rate for male circumcision is somewhere between 0.2% and 0.6%. Most of the complications that do occur are minor. The most frequent complication, bleeding, is seen in ~0.1% of circumcisions.

      In female circumcision either part or all of the girls’ external genitalia is removed.
      Infibulation, or pharonic circumcision is the most severe – about 15% of all FMGs are infibulations. In this procedure the clitoris is either completely or partly removed (clitoridectomy), the labia minora is either totally or partly removed (excision) and the labia majora is cut. The cutting of the labia majora leaves a raw surface, which is then stitched over. A small hole is left to allow urine and menstrual blood to escape. 85% of FMGs involve excision and clitoridectomy. The least severe procedure involves removal of the clitoral hood.

      The procedure most commonly occurs when the girl is aged 4-8 years. However, it is sometimes done during a woman’s first pregnancy. The person carrying out the procedure might be a health care professional, a barber or an older woman. It is not uncommon for the procedure to be carried out without any painkillers – the girl will be held down by other women. The World health Organization (WHO) has found cases of broken glass, tin lids, scissors and razor blades used. After a girl has undergone infibulation, her legs may be bound together for up to 40 days.

      The highest maternal and infant mortality rates are in FGM-practicing regions. The actual number of girls who die as a result of FGM is not known. However, in areas in the Sudan where antibiotics are not available, it is estimated that one-third of the girls undergoing FGM die.

      A study reported on in the British medical journal, The Lancet shows that women whose genitals had been mutilated had a 31% higher chance of having to give birth by c-section. A newborn whose mother was mutilated was 66% more likely to need resuscitation. Mutilated mothers have a 55% higher chance of giving birth to either a stillborn baby or a baby that soon dies.

      Bernie, it is clear from your post that you have strong feelings about the issue of circumcision. It would be my hope that you would see that taking an adversarial stance against those who oppose female circumcision is not helpful to your cause or ours. It would be great if instead you put your considerable energy to work advocating the abolition of the practice for both sexes.

  2. Maryann, you listed a lot of helpful information in explaining the differences. Bernie has commented twice on a post I wrote on FGM and both times tried to make the case that circumcision is just as bad as FGM. There is clearly no comparison. While it may be true that more men have been circumcized than women had their genitals cut off (and let’s not forget…men still have a penis…women’s pleasure center is cut off in FGM), the incredibly harmful effects both physically and psychologically in no way compare.

    Men do women all over the world an extreme disservice by making such claims that circumcision is just as bad.

  3. I am not exactly sure where to begin. This may take some time that I am not sure I have. I have to start a fire in the BBQ pit for dinner.

    I ended up cooking half way through this blog.

    OK, I did not think I was adversarial, I was just stating the facts and issues.

    “AustinTXGal Says:
    January 31, 2009 at 11:28 pm
    We care about a lot of the same things.”

    Agreed

    I wrote about this also. It really pains me to see that FGM is so prevalent still.”

    …and that MGM is 10 times more prevision

    “These young girls…and now babies…are being butchered.”

    Almost always it is a male baby being butchered

    “Often they have lifelong complications from FGM, incontinence, some can’t have children, and some even die from the practice.”

    … men have lifelong complications from MGM including ED, deformed penis, amputation of the penis (they can not have children either), and death and that is here in the US.

    “It is very brutal, done with a razor blade or even a piece of broken glass.”

    It is very brutal done with a tool that crushes and severs part of the penis.

    “Girls who bleed excessively in some countries are even thought to be witches and are killed. It is a horrendous practice against young girls and is a result of ignorance and longtime tradition.”

    Well men cannot claim that luxury of being a witch to further our cause because in our country we are blessed with the enlightenment of education, there is little that we can do about that for primitive societies. However IN OUR COUNTRY this is still a horrendous practice against newborn boys and is a result of ignorance in our “enlightened” society and a longer time tradition.

    “Diane Beeler Says:
    April 25, 2009 at 11:01 pm
    Maryann, you listed a lot of helpful information in explaining the differences. Bernie has commented twice on a post I wrote on FGM and both times tried to make the case that circumcision is just as bad as FGM.”

    Um, can you show me where exactly I said that MGM was just as bad as FGM whether or not I believe it? You speak volumes by not being able to call the practice to infant boys MGM. You are denying an minimizing what newborn boys go through

    “There is clearly no comparison.”

    How so? I stated in my posts the complications of MGM.

    “While it may be true that more men have been circumcized than women had their genitals cut off.”

    Um, boys have their genitals cut off also.

    and let’s not forget…men still have a penis…”

    Well not all, and they do not have their whole penis. Additionally, the practice of forcibly making eunuchs still exists where the genitalia is removed by tools or chemicals. Where is the outcry of this practice?

    “women’s pleasure center is cut off in FGM),”

    Infant boys have their pleasure center cut off. You have conspicuously ignored that I said :

    “What about the 15 square inches of tissue and 24,000 – 40,000 nerve endings that no longer exist? It is not hard to divine that it diminishes feeling and later could cause the epidemic of ED that we are now seeing.”

    “the incredibly harmful effects both physically and psychologically in no way compare.”

    There are harmful physical and psychological effects to men that do out way women. ED is a horrible thing, having the desire to, but not being able to, this also affects the partner in psychological ways, most of these partners being women. This affects two people not one. Deny and minimize does not diminish this fact. Women still have something there so they can preform if they wish.

    “Men do women all over the world an extreme disservice by making such claims that circumcision is just as bad.”

    Women all over the world particularly in advanced societies (who should know better) that make the claims that you have do an extreme disservice to this mens issue by minimizing and denying.

    “maryanncp Says:
    April 25, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Bernie, thank you for reading and commenting.”

    Back at ‘cha.

    “The policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on male circumcision is that, “Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.”

    I believe that I covered that when I said :

    “There is no medical reason according to the AMA for a circumcision.”

    “So obviously one can reasonably make a case that circumcision for both males and females is wrong.”

    Agreed : I did state :

    “I do agree that both are not right it does not matter if some believe that it is less severe.”

    However you did not say this until now. Hmmmmm.

    “However, it is also important to acknowledge some important differences between male and female circumcision.”

    Agreed.

    “Male circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin that covers the glans or head of the penis. Generally this procedure is performed in the hospital, with hygienic or sterilized instruments, shortly after birth. It can also take place as part of a religious or cultural ceremony after an infant boy leaves the hospital. In addition, some adult men are circumcised for medical, hygienic, or aesthetic reasons.”

    Um, incorrect you quoted :

    “these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.”

    I quoted :

    “Hygiene is not a good reason in fact it offers protection for the head of the penis.”

    One should be able to divine that both of the medical groups agree and this shows that you agree with me that there is no reason for MGM. You seem to be contradicting yourself. Furthermore, the making of eunuchs has been around for countless centuries and in third world countries where I am sure the use of antiseptic utensils are not the priority.

    “Medical research has shown that male circumcision provides significant protection against HIV infection; circumcised males are two to eight times less likely to become infected with HIV. Infant circumcision gives almost 100% protection against cancer of the penis. Men who are circumcised are 25 percent less likely to become infected with herpes. Cancer of the cervix in women is due to the Human Papilloma Virus. It thrives under and on the foreskin from where it can be transmitted during intercourse. An article in the British Medical Journal in April 2002 suggested that at least 20% of cancer of the cervix would be avoided if all men were circumcised.”

    Again, there are only

    “evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.”

    YOU quoted this not me. This is a contradiction.

    So you are advocating MGM (to infants) to save womens lives? I think that is one of the most loathsome things I have ever heard. Is there no risk to a man has HPV? Yes there is and he more than likely had this virus transferred to him by a woman. Men who are exposed to HPV can and do get penis cancer, yet they have not created a vaccine for men (again the disposable male factor.) The vaccine for women targets and prevents the types of HPV that cause up to 70% of all cases of cervical cancer and about 90% of all cases of genital warts. It is selfish of women to want infant boys genitally mutilated to save themselves from something a prophylactic and a vaccine can prevent. This does not show you in a good light.

    Um, again a reminder about some of the justifications that you use for pro-MGM are incorrect you quoted :

    “these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.”

    I quoted :

    “Hygiene is not a good reason in fact it offers protection for the head of the penis.”

    One should be able to divine that both of the medical groups agree and that you agree with me that there is no reason for newborn MGM. You seem to be contradicting yourself.

    “Studies of the AAP indicate that the complication rate for male circumcision is somewhere between 0.2% and 0.6%. Most of the complications that do occur are minor. The most frequent complication, bleeding, is seen in ~0.1% of circumcisions.”

    You fail to mention the dire complications of MGM. It seems you are using only the dire consequences of FGM and the least that can happen in MGM. Hmmmm again.

    I stated :

    “… men have lifelong complications from MGM including ED, deformed penis, amputation of the penis, and death and that is here in the US.”

    “In female circumcision either part or all of the girls’ external genitalia is removed.”

    This is true with infant boys that some of the external genitalia is removed, and in some cases all of the penis. Then there is the eunuch process. Yet again there is not enough information on eunuchs to say what the complications may be or not (this adeptly demonstrates the lack of concern for males). This subject is rarely if ever discussed or addressed. There is the fact that these men can no longer preform.

    “Infibulation, or pharonic circumcision is the most severe – about 15% of all FMGs are infibulations. In this procedure the clitoris is either completely or partly removed (clitoridectomy), the labia minora is either totally or partly removed (excision) and the labia majora is cut. The cutting of the labia majora leaves a raw surface, which is then stitched over. A small hole is left to allow urine and menstrual blood to escape. 85% of FMGs involve excision and clitoridectomy. The least severe procedure involves removal of the clitoral hood.”

    OK?!?

    To make a eunuch the outside genitalia is also removed because there is no internal genitals. Death is the most severe result of MGM and amputation is a very close second.”

    “The procedure most commonly occurs when the girl is aged 4-8 years.”

    This procedure for males mostly occurs when the boy is an infant with zero comprehension as to why it is happening.

    “However, it is sometimes done during a woman’s first pregnancy.”

    However, it is sometimes done at a later age.

    “The person carrying out the procedure might be a health care professional, a barber or an older woman. It is not uncommon for the procedure to be carried out without any painkillers – the girl will be held down by other women. The World health Organization (WHO) has found cases of broken glass, tin lids, scissors and razor blades used.”

    For women in this country it does not happen but the ignorance and custom is still rampant for infant boys. Again it is difficult if not impossible to change this in underdeveloped countries and regions.

    Painkillers are never used on infant boys or men.

    I also quoted and stated :

    “Infants are strapped to a molded restraint board so that he cannot move while they crush his foreskin and cut it off without anesthesia while he screams in pain and some pass out. That sounds like a lot of pain.” Additionally the human touch is more comforting than a board and straps.

    “After a girl has undergone infibulation, her legs may be bound together for up to 40 days.”

    OK, the newborn boys risk having the rest of their penis amputated later.

    “The highest maternal and infant mortality rates are in FGM-practicing regions.”

    This says little to nothing, of course in ALL under developed countries including where FGM is not prevalent they have the highest infant and maternal mortality rates. This is not necessarily a link between the two. “Research indicates that 88 to 98 percent of all maternal deaths can be prevented. Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, education level, and malnutrition have proven to be the underlying causes of most maternal deaths. Maternal mortality rates are substantially less in developed countries (1 in 1,800) than in developing countries (1 in 48), illustrating the impact of socioeconomic status.” http://www.faqs.org/nutrition/Kwa-Men/Maternal-Mortality-Rate.html

    “The actual number of girls who die as a result of FGM is not known. However, in areas in the Sudan where antibiotics are not available, it is estimated that one-third of the girls undergoing FGM die.”

    After the first sentence directly above there is no however, because it then is all conjecture.

    “A study reported on in the British medical journal, The Lancet shows that women whose genitals had been mutilated had a 31% higher chance of having to give birth by c-section. A newborn whose mother was mutilated was 66% more likely to need resuscitation. Mutilated mothers have a 55% higher chance of giving birth to either a stillborn baby or a baby that soon dies.”

    “OK, this does not say anything either. Are the statistics from a developed or underdeveloped third-world countries and regions. Without this information that statement is useless because again underdeveloped third-world countries and regions naturally have the issues you mentioned. Again up to 98% of maternal mortality death rate can be avoided and for the same reasons infant mortality can be reduced The baby does not develop in the external organs so one could not call this a link.”

    “Bernie, it is clear from your post that you have strong feelings about the issue of circumcision.”

    Yes, I do.

    “It would be my hope that you would see that taking an adversarial stance against those who oppose female circumcision is not helpful to your cause or ours.”

    I addressed this at the beginning saying :

    “OK, I did not think I was adversarial, I was just stating the facts and issues.”

    “It would be great if instead you put your considerable energy to work advocating the abolition of the practice for both sexes.”

    It would be great if you and your fans would instead you put your considerable energy to work advocating the abolition of the practice for both sexes and not deny and minimize MGM.
    See here again there is a conspicuous absence of what I said influencing peoples perspective of me.

    I did say :

    “I do agree that both are not right it does not matter if some believe that it is less severe.”

    Why is it that you feel it is wrong for both sexes and only blog about FGM yet you suggest that I be an advocate of both?

    Goose meet Gander.

    b

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