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Dismantling myths against female genital mutilation

It does not promote having more children or improve fertility. Quite the opposite. Female genital mutilation harms the health of women and girls and violates their fundamental rights, which is why it is necessary to dismantle myths and beliefs surrounding this practice.

On the occasion of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital MutilationMetges del Món wants to contribute, through information and dissemination, to dispelling the myths and beliefs linked to this practice “which are taken for granted but are not”.

Female genital mutilation harms the health of women and girls, is a form of gender-based violence and violates human rights. That is why the NGO has put on the table the different myths about this practice and which it is trying to eradicate with intercultural mediators.

Although it is a crime in Spain, it is estimated that more than 3,600 girls under the age of 14 are at risk of suffering from it, mainly those who come from countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea or Ghana, according to a study by the 2019 prepared by the Wassu-UAB Foundation and promoted by the Government Delegation against gender violence.

The intercultural mediators have managed to be referents of activism against mutilation and to generate spaces of trust within their own community, where experiences are shared and arguments about this practice are demystified.

Ten myths and beliefs about female genital mutilation that need to be debunked

  • Religion requires: No religion requires you to practice it. It has to do with area and ethnicity. It originates in ancient Egypt and does not appear in the Koran nor does it belong to any other creed. There are Islamic states in which it is not practiced, such as Morocco, Algeria or Saudi Arabia. It is also performed by Christian people, such as in Nigeria and Cameroon.
  • It is practiced throughout Africa: It is culturally accepted in some African communities, but it is not carried out throughout this continent. There are communities that do it in parts of the Middle East and Asia, as well as indigenous people in Latin America.
  • It is more hygienic: No, quite the opposite. It can cause bleeding, urinary and vaginal infections due to the accumulation of blood and fistulas. Also diseases such as tetanus, HIV or hepatitis and even death.
  • It is good for girls: It is considered that if the girl does not make the cut, she will be rejected for marriage, which implies that she will not be able to have her future guaranteed. This view must be countered, warns Doctors of the World, with the “serious consequences” for health, both immediate and in the medium and long term. Also for mental health, as it can produce post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, fears and attitude change in young people.
  • It is a custom and a tradition: at this point the NGO warns that if a practice harms the health and violates the fundamental rights of women and girls, it must be replaced by another that ensures their well-being. Initiation rites may be performed that include genital mutilation.
  • It can be equated with male circumcision: No. Both are very different. Circumcision does not have the same negative repercussions on health or sexuality.
  • Women have more children: No. It does not increase fertility and can also lead to complicated births and a higher risk of neonatal mortality. Sometimes infections can lead to infertility.
  • It guarantees the woman’s fidelity and that she arrives virgin at marriage: No. The NGO emphasizes that fidelity does not depend on having clitoris or not. A woman who has not been mutilated has better health and is more likely to enjoy her partner more. Nor does it guarantee virginity until marriage. “Through education, these values ​​can be transmitted without having to cause physical harm to women and girls.”
  • Prevents health problems in babies and the transmission of diseases to men: No.
  • The man gets more pleasure in sexual relations: No. Doctors of the World argues that the person enjoys more when the other person also enjoys, however, the female victim of female genital mutilation is less likely to feel pleasure.
Genital mutilation myths 2
PHOTO EFE/Alba Villén
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