Let's Talk About FGM...

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Female genital mutilation or (FGM) is a procedure that is widely practiced in at least 29 countries around the world and more than 125 million women have undergone the practice. Although the practice is most common in Africa and the Middle East, it is practiced all over the world, in places including the United States and the United Kingdom.  The procedure involved the cutting of a typically young girls genitalia. The practice is a cultural and societal ritual that has been in place for thousands of years.

There are four different types of FGM, and they vary in terms of their scope. The surgical procedure is often seen as a coming of age ritual, or a preparation for marriage, and can often damage the individual, and occasionally lead to death.  This practice is a clear violation of human rights, as well as a life-threatening event.

There are many reasons why this practice still occurs, and there are many who are trying to bring an end to it.  Many young women from such communities may face terrible stigma if they refuse to be cut, therefore, in order to end the practice, first societal norms must change.

According to Unicef, “It is now a widely acknowledged that FGM functions as a self enforcing social convention or social norm. In societies where it is practiced it is a socially upheld behavioral rule. Families and individuals uphold the practice because they believe that their group or society expects them to do so. “

Because this practice comes as a part of societal norms, it is important to try and end the practice through changing perspectives in a community, to help them identify the harmful effects of the practice, and help ensure that perspectives among men and women change to protect the coming generations.

One of the many organizations that are fighting this deadly practice is called Tostan. Located in Senegal, it started when Molly Melching first arrived in 1974 from the United States. After she spent some time in the Peace Corps she developed an understanding of the practice, and was able to try and help eliminate it through grass roots movements that focused specifically on respect for the local language and culture of the residents.

Through her foundation of the community empowerment program, they were able to significantly lower the level of fgm being practiced in the country of Senegal, therefore making her Tostan program a beacon of light as it was implemented in numerous countries in the region.

The success of Tostan has been partially due to the fact that the organization holds a deep sense of respect for the customs and practices of the individuals in the region. The goal has been to change cultural mindsets, and realize that the majority of those who have their daughters have the cut performed do so as an act of love to ensure they can have the best chances at life. Helping communities to realize that this is unnecessary and harmful is a huge step in the abolishment of the practice. According to www.tostan.org over 7,200 communities across Africa have abandoned the practice, and enacted laws to make it illegal.

Continuing the conversation on the practice is important, as the more awareness that can be raised the better. Tostan is just one of the many organizations that have set out to bring the practice to an end, and help protect the human rights and reproductive health of the many young girls who are involved.

 is a procedure that is widely practiced in at least 29 countries around the world and more than 125 million women have undergone the practice. Although the practice is most common in Africa and the Middle East, it is practiced all over the world, in places including the United States and the United Kingdom.  The procedure involved the cutting of a typically young girls genitalia. The practice is a cultural and societal ritual that has been in place for thousands of years.

There are four different types of FGM, and they vary in terms of their scope. The surgical procedure is often seen as a coming of age ritual, or a preparation for marriage, and can often damage the individual, and occasionally lead to death.  This practice is a clear violation of human rights, as well as a life-threatening event.

There are many reasons why this practice still occurs, and there are many who are trying to bring an end to it.  Many young women from such communities may face terrible stigma if they refuse to be cut, therefore, in order to end the practice, first societal norms must change.

According to Unicef, “It is now a widely acknowledged that FGM functions as a self enforcing social convention or social norm. In societies where it is practiced it is a socially upheld behavioral rule. Families and individuals uphold the practice because they believe that their group or society expects them to do so. “

Because this practice comes as a part of societal norms, it is important to try and end the practice through changing perspectives in a community, to help them identify the harmful effects of the practice, and help ensure that perspectives among men and women change to protect the coming generations.

One of the many organizations that are fighting this deadly practice is called Tostan. Located in Senegal, it started when Molly Melching first arrived in 1974 from the United States. After she spent some time in the Peace Corps she developed an understanding of the practice, and was able to try and help eliminate it through grass roots movements that focused specifically on respect for the local language and culture of the residents.

Through her foundation of the community empowerment program, they were able to significantly lower the level of fgm being practiced in the country of Senegal, therefore making her Tostan program a beacon of light as it was implemented in numerous countries in the region.

The success of Tostan has been partially due to the fact that the organization holds a deep sense of respect for the customs and practices of the individuals in the region. The goal has been to change cultural mindsets, and realize that the majority of those who have their daughters have the cut performed do so as an act of love to ensure they can have the best chances at life. Helping communities to realize that this is unnecessary and harmful is a huge step in the abolishment of the practice. According to www.tostan.org over 7,200 communities across Africa have abandoned the practice, and enacted laws to make it illegal.

Continuing the conversation on the practice is important, as the more awareness that can be raised the better. Tostan is just one of the many organizations that have set out to bring the practice to an end, and help protect the human rights and reproductive health of the many young girls who are involved.

 

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