[fusion_builder_container type=“flex“ hundred_percent=“no“ hundred_percent_height=“no“ min_height=““ hundred_percent_height_scroll=“no“ align_content=“stretch“ flex_align_items=“flex-start“ flex_justify_content=“flex-start“ flex_column_spacing=““ hundred_percent_height_center_content=“yes“ equal_height_columns=“no“ container_tag=“div“ menu_anchor=““ hide_on_mobile=“small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility“ status=“published“ publish_date=““ class=““ id=““ link_color=““ link_hover_color=““ border_sizes=““ border_sizes_top=““ border_sizes_right=““ border_sizes_bottom=““ border_sizes_left=““ border_color=““ border_style=“solid“ spacing_medium=““ margin_top_medium=““ margin_bottom_medium=““ spacing_small=““ margin_top_small=““ margin_bottom_small=““ margin_top=““ margin_bottom=““ padding_dimensions_medium=““ padding_top_medium=““ padding_right_medium=““ padding_bottom_medium=““ padding_left_medium=““ padding_dimensions_small=““ padding_top_small=““ padding_right_small=““ padding_bottom_small=““ padding_left_small=““ padding_top=““ padding_right=““ padding_bottom=““ padding_left=““ box_shadow=“no“ box_shadow_vertical=““ box_shadow_horizontal=““ box_shadow_blur=“0″ box_shadow_spread=“0″ box_shadow_color=““ box_shadow_style=““ z_index=““ overflow=““ gradient_start_color=““ gradient_end_color=““ gradient_start_position=“0″ gradient_end_position=“100″ gradient_type=“linear“ radial_direction=“center center“ linear_angle=“180″ background_color=““ background_image=““ background_position=“center center“ background_repeat=“no-repeat“ fade=“no“ background_parallax=“none“ enable_mobile=“no“ parallax_speed=“0.3″ background_blend_mode=“none“ video_mp4=““ video_webm=““ video_ogv=““ video_url=““ video_aspect_ratio=“16:9″ video_loop=“yes“ video_mute=“yes“ video_preview_image=““ absolute=“off“ absolute_devices=“small,medium,large“ sticky=“off“ sticky_devices=“small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility“ sticky_background_color=““ sticky_height=““ sticky_offset=““ sticky_transition_offset=“0″ scroll_offset=“0″ animation_type=““ animation_direction=“left“ animation_speed=“0.3″ animation_offset=““ filter_hue=“0″ filter_saturation=“100″ filter_brightness=“100″ filter_contrast=“100″ filter_invert=“0″ filter_sepia=“0″ filter_opacity=“100″ filter_blur=“0″ filter_hue_hover=“0″ filter_saturation_hover=“100″ filter_brightness_hover=“100″ filter_contrast_hover=“100″ filter_invert_hover=“0″ filter_sepia_hover=“0″ filter_opacity_hover=“100″ filter_blur_hover=“0″][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=“1_1″ layout=“1_1″ align_self=“auto“ content_layout=“column“ align_content=“flex-start“ content_wrap=“wrap“ spacing=““ center_content=“no“ link=““ target=“_self“ min_height=““ hide_on_mobile=“small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility“ sticky_display=“normal,sticky“ class=““ id=““ type_medium=““ type_small=““ order_medium=“0″ order_small=“0″ dimension_spacing_medium=““ dimension_spacing_small=““ dimension_spacing=““ dimension_margin_medium=““ dimension_margin_small=““ margin_top=““ margin_bottom=““ padding_medium=““ padding_small=““ padding_top=““ padding_right=““ padding_bottom=““ padding_left=““ hover_type=“none“ border_sizes=““ border_color=““ border_style=“solid“ border_radius=““ box_shadow=“no“ dimension_box_shadow=““ box_shadow_blur=“0″ box_shadow_spread=“0″ box_shadow_color=““ box_shadow_style=““ background_type=“single“ gradient_start_color=““ gradient_end_color=““ gradient_start_position=“0″ gradient_end_position=“100″ gradient_type=“linear“ radial_direction=“center center“ linear_angle=“180″ background_color=““ background_image=““ background_image_id=““ background_position=“left top“ background_repeat=“no-repeat“ background_blend_mode=“none“ animation_type=““ animation_direction=“left“ animation_speed=“0.3″ animation_offset=““ filter_type=“regular“ filter_hue=“0″ filter_saturation=“100″ filter_brightness=“100″ filter_contrast=“100″ filter_invert=“0″ filter_sepia=“0″ filter_opacity=“100″ filter_blur=“0″ filter_hue_hover=“0″ filter_saturation_hover=“100″ filter_brightness_hover=“100″ filter_contrast_hover=“100″ filter_invert_hover=“0″ filter_sepia_hover=“0″ filter_opacity_hover=“100″ filter_blur_hover=“0″ last=“true“ border_position=“all“ first=“true“][fusion_text columns=““ column_min_width=““ column_spacing=““ rule_style=“default“ rule_size=““ rule_color=““ content_alignment_medium=““ content_alignment_small=““ content_alignment=““ hide_on_mobile=“small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility“ sticky_display=“normal,sticky“ class=““ id=““ font_size=““ fusion_font_family_text_font=““ fusion_font_variant_text_font=““ line_height=““ letter_spacing=““ text_color=““ animation_type=““ animation_direction=“left“ animation_speed=“0.3″ animation_offset=““]

The Struggle to End Female Genital Mutilation

FGM in Tanzania and Germany
Over twenty years ago, a Somalian woman named Waris Dirie published a book that became a worldwide bestseller. “Desert Flower” was a fascinating and disturbing story. An autobiography, it told the breath-taking tale of Waris’s flight from impoverishment in a traditional African family to her life as a top international model in Europe.
There were many challenges, highs and lows in Waris’s story, but one episode that stood out was her gut-wrenching description of how, as a five-year-old child, she was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). As Waris tells it, she “almost died from blood loss and high fever”, and she vowed years later to use her fame to end the ghastly and criminal practice of FGM.

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

For many of those reading Desert Flower, it was their first time hearing the term „female genital mutilation“. This archaic and cruel practice involves the partial or complete removal of female genitals, or their injury, through cutting. Girls are usually subjected to FGM at a very young age, sometime between infancy and puberty. FGM is done for non-medical, traditional reasons and is justified by communities as a socio-cultural rite-of-passage, necessary, for example, to protect a female’s virginity or ensure her marital fidelity.
FGM is unnecessary and irreversible. It causes severe mental and physical damage to girls and women around the world and is a violation of their human rights.

What happens during FGM?

FGM is usually carried out by a traditional cutter or someone else with no medical training. It is brutal and painful and routinely avoids the use of anaesthetics or pain relief. Furthermore, it is typically undertaken in unhygienic conditions, using dirty knives, razors, blades and other cutting instruments. Females are held down while the cutting takes place.
There are four types of FGM: removal of the clitoris; removal of part or all of the clitoris along with the labia minora and in some cases the labia majora; stitching of the vaginal opening, leaving a tiny hole for urine and menstrual flow, and other injuries to the female genitals including burning, scraping or piercing.

What are the effects of FGM?

FGM can cause instant death through bleeding. If a girl or woman survives FGM, she will live with long-term conditions that affect her physical and mental health. According to a study outlined in a medical review from 2014, it was found that women who had undergone FGM suffered a higher risk of gynaecological complications than normal. Victims of FGM are likely to have:

  • regular infections
  • menstrual problems
  • pain
  • discomfort during sex
  • trauma
  • depression
  • complications during childbirth

Where is FGM practiced?

While it is in decline, this abhorrent practice is still far too prevalent. According to Unicef, in 2020, at least 200 million girls and women living today in 31 countries had undergone FGM. It is primarily carried out in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia with Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia accounting for half of all victims.
As a consequence of increased migration, some form of FGM happens in Western countries too. In Germany for example, 2,000 patients were treated for injuries resulting from FGM in 2019, according to the FGM watchdog organisation Taskforce FGM. And these numbers only represent those girls who were actually treated by a medical professional. Shockingly, Taskforce FGM reckons that these 2,000 cases represent only 5% of the total number of victims in Germany.

FGM in Tanzania

In Tanzania, the level of FGM varies with a rate of less than 10% in most of the country and above 80% in specific regions. Several laws hinder the practice. The Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act states: “Any person who, having the custody, charge or care of any person under eighteen years of age, ill-treats, neglects or abandons that person or causes female genital mutilation or procures that person to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected or abandoned in a manner likely to, cause him suffering or injury to health, including injury to, or loss, of sight or hearing, or limb or organ of the body or any mental derangement, commits the offence of cruelty to children.”
In addition, the Law of the Child 2009 protects under 18s by making it a criminal offence to, “subject a child to torture, or other cruel, inhuman punishment or degrading treatment including a cultural practice which dehumanizes or is injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a child.”
However, despite heavy fines and jail sentences for breaking these laws, there is concern at how effective these laws really are particularly in rural areas.
In 2020, social anthropologist and photographer Thera Mjaaland filmed the documentary „No Going Back“ about community activism against FGM in central Tanzania. This absorbing and harrowing production introduces us to people from the region who have taken it upon themselves to eradicate female genital mutilation. In the film, they discuss their personal experiences and their efforts to initiate change.
[/fusion_text][fusion_youtube_nocookie id=“https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD3vDmeZNbI“ alignment=“center“ width=““ height=““ autoplay=“false“ api_params=““ hide_on_mobile=“small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility“ class=““ /][fusion_text columns=““ column_min_width=““ column_spacing=““ rule_style=“default“ rule_size=““ rule_color=““ content_alignment_medium=““ content_alignment_small=““ content_alignment=““ hide_on_mobile=“small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility“ sticky_display=“normal,sticky“ class=““ id=““ font_size=““ fusion_font_family_text_font=““ fusion_font_variant_text_font=““ line_height=““ letter_spacing=““ text_color=““ animation_type=““ animation_direction=“left“ animation_speed=“0.3″ animation_offset=““]
For Swahili speakers, a subtitled version can be found here.

Cultural pressure and attitudes to FGM

FGM may be a black and white matter for us but in cultures where it is a traditional practice, attitudes and opinions are complex. In some communities, FGM is taboo and not discussed. In others, it is a rite of passage to be loudly celebrated. For the victims, there are mixed feelings, from great fear to excited anticipation. The latter because in some cultures, girls subjected to FGM receive gifts and are feted by their community through the streets after the procedure, resulting in a confused reaction to the pain and suffering endured. Some women don’t think FGM is a problem as it is so entrenched in their culture and so tied up with survival and social acceptance.

What is being done to end FGM?

The fight against FGM is a multi-pronged approach involving education, legal measures, activism and emergency support. Protecting girls and women from FGM is also enshrined in the gender equality SDG 5, goal 5.3. It states: Eliminate all harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Education: Teaching women and girls and empowering them is key to the elimination of FGM. Anti-FGM organisations are actively working to change mindsets in communities by raising awareness of the dangers of FGM. Efforts are also being made to stop the circumcizors themselves by providing them with an alternative income.
Legal Measures: Long-term, legal measures such as criminalising FGM and strengthening child protection are another part of the approach. FGM is now banned in many countries in the world. The organisation 28 Too Many has extensive information on treaties and other legal mechanisms being applied to stop FGM in Tanzania and elsewhere in the world.
Activism: There is a powerful global movement to stop FGM and many hundreds of organisations are active around the world such as Waris Dirie’s Desert Flower Foundation, 28 Too Many and the UN. These organisations offer young women and girls support and carry out educational initiatives to prevent FGM in communities. Other organisations liked Mischana empower young girls, teaching them to lead self-sustaining lives and in doing so, helping to hinder their early marriage: FGM is frequently a precursor to the marriage ceremony.
Emergency Support: There are many initiatives to help girls to escape from FGM. Crowd2Map, for example, has assisted thousands of girls in rural Tanzania by mapping these parts of the country, facilitating access to emergency support and safe houses.
In Germany, Nala and other organisations offer an emergency hotline for those who require urgent help.
Resources: Tanzania, the law and FGM by 28 Too Many https://www.orchidproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/tanzania_law_report_v1_may_2018.pdf
Factsheet FGM in the United Republic of Tanzania https://tanzania.unfpa.org/en/publications/fact-sheet-fgm-united-republic-tanzania
Additional reading: My quarrel with a proud FGM cutter
Report by: Muriel Burke
[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]