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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why Circumcise me?- A film

This health issue is something that has existed, mostly in Africa, for about 4000 years. The type of circumcision that is more problematic is Pharaonic, which removes the clitoris, inner, and some of the outer labia. The area is then stitched shut except for a tiny hole. Most of the girls with this procedure have trouble urinating and menstruating. They also endure a lot of pain on their wedding nights and during childbirth.

I don't want to be too graphic, but just want to give examples of some of the pain my friends have endured. One friend used to have to urinate a single drop at a time, it would take her several minutes to empty her bladder. Another's husband was not able to open her fully for 5 days after marrying. During childbirth, she had to be cut open in all four directions (like a plus sign) to allow the baby's head to pass. She also bled a lot and had to receive several units of blood. Some women die after being circumcised, or when giving birth in primitive conditions.

This practice is still way too common and we need to make sure it doesn't continue to happen to the next generation. I have seen my own friends suffer, but I know that it doesn't have to be that way for their daughters. It is also mostly the women in these cultures who do the circumcisions and insist on continuing the tradition.

The film is in Somali with English subtitles. It also goes into some of the social issues regarding circumcision. It is not only a Somali issue though. It also occurs all through populations in North and East Africa.


angie nader said...

i recencently watched a movie called gods sandbox that was about female circumcison...it was very depressing. im surprised that these things still happen today

Mona said...

I was very surprised to learn that many of the women I know here , my age have been circumcised. Not to the FGM extent but still. It causes them problems in their marriages, too though.

Ahavah-Shim'eon said...

I learned about this in my teens and yet today it still goes on. You are right.... how can we help spread the word?

What can we do to help stop this practice? Who shall we write too?

Jaz said...

Yep, I know that many people in Egypt still agree with it - I saw in a programme that 99% of married Egyptian women have the clitoris removed... I don't know if this is the real extent to which it happens because I've heard that it isn't to such an extent from those who support it.

It's illegal now in Egypt, but some people really do think it's an Islamic thing - if it's Islamic then why does it happen among both Muslims and Christians?

I don't agree with it at all. I hope it will stop.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

It's very widespread in Egypt, something many people find shocking since it's a pretty barbaric practice (esp. Pharonic circumcsion). The problem in Egypt now is that women who are not circumcized have trouble fitting in...for example they can't find husbands a lot of the time. So this makes mothers think twice about not circumcizing their daughters.

I worked as a researcher on FC/FGM for an NGO and it really affected me, esp. the pictures. I can't believe this practice exists AND that it's being linked to Islam.

What REALLY bothers me is the reason many people give for circumcizing: either because they think it's Islamic, or because they want to prevent the girl from "messing around" before marriage. Ridiculous!

NoortheNinjabi said...

My husband and I have actually done some "word on the street" research about FGM in Cairo. The men tend to be against it in their wives, as they don't respond physically to sex (women's orgasms being Allah's gift to BOTH parties), don't seek out sex from them, and often refuse them. The men that are for it are mainly due to the idiot sheikhs around here saying it's mandatory (which removing the prepuce (hood) is, but only if it can be done correctly and only according to some scholars. Total obliteration, as they're promoting, is wrong and according to my shuyukh, those who do it owe a blood writ upon those who they do it to.) Mohamed had a taxi driver rant about it for quite a while...Seems he wished he had married a "dirty" woman so they could have a normal sex life.

Women, on the other hand, see it as necessary. These women tend to be older. The youngest generations (ie, 0-30-ish) have started a trend of going away from it, which is fantastic. The not so fantastic part is when their mothers or grandmothers find out that the daughters aren't circumcising their daughters, the older women are doing it for them. Ugh..Astaghfirullah.

Good post!!!

Mama Kalila said...

Uggh. I remember one of the ladies in TZ going off on this subject. Apparently in the Maasai culture it used to happen when a girl became a woman, but since wazungu got involved its become an infancy thing... I heard some horrible stories. Makes me sick just thinking about it. On top of that I remember seeing a book at the Catholic bookstore there about why its wrong. I didn't pick it up, but I kinda wish I did.

Susanne said...

How sad. I didn't realize the extent of this or what all it involved. Thank you for spreading awareness.

Baji said...

I don't mean to lessen the seriousness of this problem in the world, but doesn't that music remind you of napolean dynomite? Augh, now i'm going to think of circumcision everytime i watch napolean dynomite.

Anonymous said...

One would think it would be easy to disprove the "Islamic" ties to FC... it is not in the Quran. If it is in a Hadith, I would find little justification for supporting it. The mutilation of a human is not something to take lightly and should only come from the word of Allah, not second hand recollections that may or may not be able to be proven. I would even be hard pressed to support MC if it were not so clearly written in the Quran. ___Stephanie

Nadia said...

Great post. Sadly, female circumcision is still practiced in Oman (namely Salalah) but not as much as before. In fact, back in the 1980s/1990s there was a 'room' in the hospital next to the labor room where old women would sit and wait with their tools for any announcement that a baby girl had been born. They would then circumcise the baby and pierce her ears before she was even a day old! Most of my friends are circumcised; and I agree with one of your readers that it's the older women who insist on circumcision. Men hate it because they've come to realize that there can never been shared sexual pleasure with a circumcized wife.

Aynur said...

@Anon - as far as I know, even male circumcision is not in the Qur'an.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Angie, I will look out for that movie.

Everyone else, yes FGM is all too common in Egypt too. It is a custom that predated Islam by several thousand years. I think that's why it has taken so long to remove it from the culture.

@Mama Kalila, I believe that the Masai cut to the same extent that they do in other East African countries, but they don't sew the labia shut afterwards. Still just as horrible, but it probably doesn't cause the same amount of deaths to women and babies during labor.

@Nadia, I have a problem with piercing a baby's ears too. I am waiting until Layla is old enough that she can ask for it as a gift of some sort.

@Ahavah, there are a lot of organizations working against FGM, especially in Europe. Sadly, many girls are flown back to Africa every year to have this done.
One organization that is working is the UK is FORWARD.

Anonymous said...

I also read in a book that the extreme FC, if done on a man, would be equal to removing the head of the penis and the skin surounding the testicles.... Hmmm, wonder if guys would find that a good way to control their labido? I think not... ___Stephanie

Sakeenah said...

while having naima i tore severely and when the midwife came to visit me at home a week after the birth she noticed i could hardly walk or sit and i looked very unwell, she took one look at my stitches and said they were infected and sent me straight back to the hospital where they removed all approximately 100 stitches with out any pain relief, it was so gruesome my husband kept looking at the floor. id was put on IV antibiotics immediately and had to stay there for over a week. at one point they said if i left it any longer i could have died. how these girls survive FGM with no medical aid i have no idea!

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Sakeenah, 100 stitches! I almost cried just reading that. I can't even imagine! InshaAllah you won't tear like that again with any future babies. I don't know how the mothers can subject their young daughters to that same kind of pain. I'm so glad to see the younger generation turning away from FGM.

GTFrenzy said...

Stacy thank you for posting this!

As a Somali it break my heart to know that my people, to a certain extent, still practice this. Alhamdulillah, I am fortunate enough to have parents who decided NOT to practice this cultural norm, on me and my sisters. Others are not as fortunate.

Odna said...

Hi, Stacy! I know this is an old post, but I just found it and saw the video.

FGM is a horrible practice and as many girls here pointed out it is also bad for a healthy marriage life. Can you imagine how boring it can be for the guy? And how painful for the woman? Just awful!

I don't know if you saw, but recently some wackos have been posting comments defending the practice. One in particular is the most scary of all. Creppy and dangerous. O_O