Skip navigation! Story from Body. From time to time, The Bed Post features other voices. This week, I speak with anti-female-genital-mutilation campaigner Alimatu Dimonekene on how FGM harms not only women's sexualities but also their physical, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. When Alimatu Dimonekene showed up at the U. Alimatu had been working with Efua Dorkenou , the late campaigner against female genital mutilation FGM , to develop recommendations for the U.
FGM Survivor & Activist Alimatu Dimonekene Will Not Be Silent Again
Female genital mutilation: not just over there
On a visit to Djibouti Horn of Africa in , I came upon a report on female genital mutilation prepared by a French doctor attached to the Foreign Legion. It recorded how the child aged between years old would be held down by her mother and aunts while the gede grandmother sliced off the head of her clitoris with a knife, or a often just a rusty razor. Infibulation was also frequently performed when the labia were cut and the edges sewn together with thorns. Few men were capable of taking a girl thus excised and it was necessary to cut her genitalia open for intercourse. Next day according to local custom, the man would parade through his village displaying his bloodied knife— to show everyone he had taken possession of his wife. The badly scarred woman could not give birth normally requiring surgical incision and re-stitching which had to be repeated with each subsequent birth. While female genital mutilation is now officially condemned by the UN, the practice continues even in hygenic western surgeries.
All societies have norms of care and behaviour based on age, life stage, gender and social class. These norms, often referred to as traditional practices, may be harmless and beneficial, but some may be harmful. Female genital mutilation is a key example of a traditional custom which is harmful and in some cases fatal.
There are several different types of mutilation, which are demonstrated with drawings. FGM is primarily practiced and enforced by women and has cultural significance. FGM is practiced in the United States among some immigrant groups, and women who have immigrated here often need specialized medical care as a result of the mutilation. The most extreme form of FGM is called infibulation which involves removal of all outside genitalia and near closure of the vaginal opening.