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Torture by any other name is still torture!

I was reading through the economist and I was so excited to see an article about female genital mutilation (I’m excited by the weirdest things). It’s an issue so under reported and known about, that an article in the economist is a great way to highlight this massively important issue. As I read it my excitement turned to anger. It was reporting on how the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), likened Female genital mutilation to ear-piercing.    

How can someone who has never experienced such physical and psychological torture, lessen the horrific experience of way too many women and girls throughout the world. I am positive that if the person who made this statement had had their genitals cut, stitch back up and as a result had a life time of pain and unnecessary trauma, they would not be comparing it to ears being pierced.   

Many of you may not know what Female Genital Mutilation is. If you want the full details then check this website and amazing organisation out: http://www.forwarduk.org.uk/key-issues/fgmThe

The shortened explanation of this practice is that young girls are forced to have their genitals cut (to differing levels) and in the extreme cases cut and then stitched back up.  This in itself is barbaric, but what makes it even more horrific is that it is done with no anaesthetic and using a razor (which is used on a number of girls) or sharp stones and knives.

I first heard about this practice when I was back home in Swansea, South Wales. I was volunteering at an asylum seeker charity and was so lucky to meet two incredible, young women who had somehow travelled from Somalia to Swansea. They both had young daughters and had fled their country because their families wanted to perform female genital mutilation on their children. Both women had experienced a severe form of the mutilation and one told me how she had to watch three other girls being pinned down and cut before she had to endure the same torture. She also told me about how she had difficulties having sex with her husband and how traumatic giving birth was for her.

How does being forced to watch other girls being pinned down, screaming and have their genitals cut with a razor and then having to experience the same thing yourself, not constitute as torture?  

When the most extreme form of FGM is carried out, it involves the cutting away of all of the external genitalia and the stitching of the vaginal opening, leaving only a gap the size of a matchstick head for the girl to menstruate and urinate through.  This is torture and nothing less. Only this torture lasts their entire life time.

How dare anyone torture young girls and leave them with a live time of misery and how dare they try and hide that torture in excuses of culture or religion. Torture is torture and as much as I love and respect that we live in a world with such varying and beautiful cultures that enrich our world; I have no respect for a tradition that empowers people to mutilate young girls in the name of chastity, religion or culture.

I feel so strongly about this issue that I wrote a 10,000 word thesis on it and I think everyone of my friends are now fully aware of the gory details of this practice (whether they want to be or not). Some of them use to tut at me and call me a “bloody feminist”. Well, yes I am a bloody feminist, but that’s not why this practice is wrong. It’s wrong because it is torture. It’s wrong because it undermines these girls’ basic human rights and any tradition that does that need eradicating and eradicating now.

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