TO SOCIETIES THAT SUPPORT FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION: WOMEN ARE NOT YOUR PROPERTY! by Fahima Abdi Ali
|Posted by [email protected] on January 28, 2018 at 4:25 PM|
I was just 8 years old when I learned that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was the fate of every girl in my society. I did not know the specifics. I was only told that if it were done to me, I was going to be loved by God.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, FGM, also known as female circumcision, is a practice in which some or all external female genitalia is cut for cultural purposes, not medical reasons. Around the world, there are about 200 million girls and women who have undergone this process.
The details of FGM are not something that the people leading the practice want to talk about because they are not nice to hear and are apparently too inconsequential to take into account before creating decisions that permanently affect the livelihood of girls. But these details are not actually inconsequential because if they were, addressing the mental and physical harm that comes from FGM would not be a threat to patriarchal societies. Girls who endure FGM get most of their vaginas sewn up, making them incapable of having sex. A very small hole is left for girls to pee and get their periods. It is unethical and oppressive to sew women up as an attempt to reserve them as pure gifts for men.
The procedure of FGM is not like going to a hospital and having a needle poked at you. In Somaliland, a woman comes to your house with knives and strings and, without any anesthesia, starts cutting your vagina. One day I woke up to see a woman with a bag full of equipment—she was there to mutilate my sisters and me.
In many cultures, people practice FGM thinking that it increases the chances of a girl getting married. FGM “preserves” virginity as women are not capable of having sex until they get married and are “reopened” again. To preserve the “femininity and modesty” of girls, certain cultures cut the body parts of girls that are seen as “unclean and feminine” (World Health Organization). Additionally, FGM in many communities is “believed to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore believed to help her resist extramarital sexual acts” (WHO).
I was always told that mutilating girls was something that Allah decrees in his Quran, and I wondered why Allah would wish something painful upon his children. I eventually acclimated to the idea that eternal happiness was contingent on unconditional respect and obedience to Allah’s word. However, FGM turned out to be not a religious concept, but a societal custom forced on me and many other girls around the world.
First, the Quran never mentions anything about female genital circumcision. In fact, a verse in the Quran states, “Abandon all harm, whether committed openly or indiscreet.” (7:33). This act of doing no harm to anyone is one that directly condemns FGM. More importantly, in most cases it is a harm imposed on girls and women by others and not a choice made by the victims. This procedure needs to end because, understood properly, the Quran not only discourages it, but forbids it. Furthermore, this procedure is violent and women do not get to choose. FGM is not making women pure, but making them into property. It is used to control women’s sexual desires, actions, and bodies and religion is only used as an excuse to justify this abhorrent practice. Religion was meant to correct and guide humans, but humans do the opposite: they try to control and alter religion so that it fits their desires.
I spent 10 years going to a Quran school where I have learned that no, Allah never instructed us to mutilate girls. Even if religion permitted FGM, religion does not force people to undergo this procedure. Everything is a choice and girls should have the right to choose what they want. FGM needs to end because it is very violent towards women.
Dear men, women are not your property for you to use however you desire.
Fahima Ali is from Somaliland, Somalia. She is a freshman at Columbia College, majoring in human rights and concentrating in business management. She is passionate about women’s rights and children’s rights and loves advocating for women and children. She loves NYC and cannot wait to explore all the magnificent museums and different cultures the city has to offer.