Female Circumcision

By admin / July 3, 2007
By: Ibrahim Machiwala
Category: Psychology

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to make the society aware of a threatening practice, to make people aware of physiological, psychosocial and psychological effects of female circumcision. It is an important issue for the female population as it has devastating effects not only on women but also to their family members. It is estimated that worldwide more than 100,000,000 women alive today have undergone female circumcision. To conclude, I would say that in this changing world, this type of tradition is still alive. This spoils the womens dignity and it has negative effects on womens physical, psychosexual and psychological health. To overcome these issues, women need to be educated, so that they can fight for their rights. Hear me please! I am voice of a one month old female child. One day I was sleeping and praising the beauty of this world, I was thinking that God has blessed me by sending me to this world ahhhhhh it is so beautiful and lively to live here. Suddenly my family took me and a torture was done with my body and soul. Oh God! I dont see this world beautiful any more. I was happy there with you why did you sent me here why, why? In this scenario it is talking about very scaring traditional practice which involves cutting of female genitalia by knives, razor blades, or by piece of glass. The purpose of this practice is to maintain female virginity and to restrain women from sexual acts before marriages. This practice is known as "Female Circumcision (FC) or Female Genital Mutilation (FMG)". There are three types of female circumcision: in type one (prepuce) the clitoris is cut off; in type two, clitoris and labia minora (inner covering of the vagina) are cut off; and in type three clitoris and labia minora are cut and labia majora (outer covering of the vagina) is stretched and stitched together, this type is called infibulation. In infibulation a small opening is left for the urination and menstruation. This tradition appeared 2000 years ago and it is still practice in Middle East countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, and in some Muslim population of India, Pakistan and East Africa. According to Dorkenoo (as cited in Gibeau, 1998) "It is estimated that worldwide more than 100,000,000 women alive today have undergone FMG". This is a terrifying procedure because it has physiological, psychosexual and psychological effects on circumcised women. Firstly, I will discuss about physiological effects on female circumcision. The procedure is done without anesthesia. Anesthesia blocks the pain perception and person do not feels the pain, however while performing this practice female is awake and she can feel severe pain when her genitalias are cut. Apart from lack of facility of anesthesia, they have no resources to control bleeding. In addition, the one who is performing the procedure is not medically train so, there is a possibility that he/she may cut an artery and this will eventually lead to hemorrhage. Boston (2004) supports the point by stating that "bleeding as a result of unligated artery can lead to anemia, hemorrhage, shock, or death". Moreover, after the procedure is completed, the wound is left open to heal. There is a normal process of wound healing in our body; some times a flap comes over the wound or some times it is replaced by a scar tissue. If there is a formation of scar than it will cause obstruction in the flow of urine and menses. In addition to scar, stitching of labia majora also causes stasis of urine and menses in the flap, and this facilitates bacterial growth. The growth of bacteria will cause urinary tract and vaginal infections. Secondly, along with physiological effects, this threatening practice imposes some psychosexual effects on circumcised women. In all three types of female circumcision the clitoris is cut. The clitoris plays an important role in sexual arousal; it stimulates a female to involve in an intercourse. Removal of clitoris can make it difficult for a female to get aroused, and this may lead to lack of orgasm (needed for an intercourse). After the female is stimulated and feels a desire to go for an intercourse, the vagina becomes lubricated by vaginal secretions and this makes the intercourse easy. In circumcised women the vagina remains dry due to lack of orgasm which makes the intercourse difficult and dysperiunia (painful intercourse) occurs. Furthermore, circumcised women probably can have prolonged labor because their vagina is unable to dilate due to scar formation and infibulation. Normally in labor, there are uterine contractions which helps the vagina to dilate and the delivery takes place nevertheless, in circumcised women there is a scar formation which do not allows the vagina to dilate and it leads to prolonged labor. Brady (1998) shares that "due to excision of tissue and formation of keloid scar and dermoid cysts, the perineal are lacks the elasticity to stretch during the delivery". Lastly, besides physiological ands psychosexual effects, a circumcised women has to undergo certain psychological effects. Each body part plays an important role in maintaining the body image; if one is satisfied with his/her bodily structure and function then he/she can have a good body image. Relating to this a circumcised woman has disturbed body image because of altered bodily structures and functions. In addition to body image this procedure also leads a woman to anxiety. A woman seems anxious because of inability to perform her role as a wife and because of inability to maintain a sexual relationship their spouse which is a need for both. Besides women are unable to talk about their feelings because this practice has its own cultural importance and their anxiety remains unresolved and leads to low self esteem. To conclude, I would say that in this changing world, this type of tradition is still alive. This spoils the womens dignity and it has negative effects on womens physical, psychosexual and psychological health. In my view women literacy is very important to fight for their rights and to over come these issues. In addition I feel this practice should be banned as it has devastating effect. Moreover proper counseling sessions are required for the victims of this practice. Lastly educating female is necessary in those areas where this practice is common because some time women are not aware of the consequences and they go for it because it ahs cultural importance.

Saira Rajab Ali Momin (Gastroenterology Nurse Case Management Coordinator) RN, BSCN, BA, She has written on a range of women's related issues such as Female Circumcision, Psychological Effects, Schizophrenia and Social support.

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