In Sally Armstrong’s new book Ascent of Women she talks about the shift that is building away from a patriarchal society because women all over our planet are demanding to be heard. One of the many human right’s violations taking place, that she sheds much-needed light on, is the subject of female genital mutilation. Sally states that “the practice started twenty-two hundred years ago in Egypt and spread westward. Some say that it is a religious requirement, but though it is practiced by Muslims, Christians, and a Jewish sect in Ethiopia, it is not mentioned in either the Quran or the Bible.” Why is this still not well-known. Sally gives us the sad facts: “More than 130 million women who are alive today in twenty-eight countries have been sexually mutilated in the name of tradition. Every day an average of six thousand little girls are taken to old women known as “the cutters,” who excise their clitoris and labia with a razor and then sew them up. There’s no anesthetic, no sterilization. There’s just agony, a future of pain and sometimes death.”
Hard to read, harder to believe. Although primarily practiced in Africa, there are areas in Asia as well. Sally continues: “If a girl doesn’t bleed to death, if she doesn’t die from shock or pelvic infection or tetanus, she will be left with an opening the size of her baby fingertip. Urinating, which can take as long as fifteen minutes for a girl whose entire vulval area has been damaged, hurts so much that she’ll try to avoid it, which causes urinary tract infection leading to kidney problems and sometimes blood poisoning. When she marries, she’ll be recut with a razor to make intercourse possible. Then comes the agony of childbirth with a birth canal opening that has been mutilated. Labour is prolonged – three to five days in not unusual – so the baby is often starved of oxygen.”
Men who are afraid of change, girls who don’t know any different, it is up to the women to stand up and say “no more.” Yet to stand up to a twenty-two hundred year old tradition takes nothing less than monumental courage. As Sally informs us, Senegal is one such country where its women are taking a stand with the cry of “Never again, not my daughter.” Others , like this incredible woman below continue to speak out.