FGM: The effects go beyond what eyes see

FGM: The effects go beyond what eyes see

Victims of female genital mutilation are often left with no voice than to endure the physical and psychological challenges that follows the experience.

In addition to being a public health problem, FGM is a violation of human rights against women and children.

The world's health governing body, the World Health Organization (WHO) declares that "Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons." This practice is mostly considered by practitioners as an expression that describes social, religious and traditional actions carried on from generation to generation as a means to "purify" the woman and curtail acts of promiscuity. This act is an outright violation of human rights of women.

There are four types of FGM according to www.endfgm.eu and all have negative repercussions on the overall wellbeing of the victims. They are: Clitoridectomy, Excision, Infibulation and all the other procedures done to the genitalia of women for non-medical purposes, such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Having no health nor any other form of proven benefit, FGM has several negative impacts on the lives of women and girls who have been cut. Doctor Salomée Irène Bolo of the Nkomo Departmental Medical Center in Yaounde, says they range from physical (medical) to psychological effects.  

Physical and medical consequences include infection of the scar, injury to surrounding genital tissue, dyspareunia, infection of the urinary or genital tract, high risk of HIV contamination as the same tools are used on several girls, dysmenorrhea, urinary incontinence, chronic pelvic infections, recto-vaginal fistula, absence of orgasm, painful intercourse, complications during childbirth, infertility and sometimes death due to over bleeding during and after the action.

Psychological effects include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem and dignity. All these consequences are generally swept under the carpet because they are not seen with bare eyes whereas the victims suffer on the inside.

In Cameroon, statistics on FGM indicate a significant drop in the practice.  Law No 2016/007 of 12 July 2016 had signaled an end to impunity and perpetrators henceforth will face the law. FGM is an act that can come to an end if we all cooperate to eradicate it, experts believe.  "Together, we can eliminate female genital mutilation by 2030. Doing so will have a positive ripple effect on the health, education and economic advancement of girls and women." UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said.

The 6th of  February is the International Day to End Female Genital Mutilation. It is called International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and as a United Nations-sponsored annual awareness and also as part of the UN's efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation. It was first introduced in 2003

Doreen Sere penn

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