How does culture and customs blind Humanity?
We live in a world where it is next to impossible to assess the various tribes that exist. Some are well known, and some are alien to us. And not to our surprise, there are so many traditions and custom that follows with them. Age-old traditions, being handed down to people generation by generation.
One such “traditional practice”, which makes my horrors come to life is- female genital mutilation, also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision. A woman has to undergo one of the most horrific processes that yield no health benefits but is just carried out in the name of “tradition” or “customs”. It’s an inhuman practise of partial or total removal of female genitalia or another injury to the female genital organ. Well, this is what we formally put a definition to when asked about what this exactly is.
As I delved deeper to look at the traumas and the reasons as to why such cruelty has been imposed on young women, it shook me to the core. Somali in Africa is a place where FGM has been and is still practised widely. There are various forms of cuts being performed:
The local women generally do all these cutting practices without medical assistance, and why would there be a medical intervention for such an illogical and inhumane practice? Young girls, usually from infancy to 15 years of age, have to undergo such a practice because their culture allows it mutely.
Clearly, social acceptability, enhancement of sexual pleasure of male counterparts, modesty, eligibility of getting married, purity of being a woman, and most importantly, “religion” weighs more than innumerable health complications a woman has to go through all her life. According to WHO, more than 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
These are not mere numbers; it accounts to the downfall, trauma, exploitation of an entire race of humans. What was noticeable in this process’s continuity was how women themselves are the cause of their own suffering. Mothers, grandmothers pushing their daughters to participate in this. In an interview carried in a tribal part of Africa, a local doctor witnessed a case wherein the grandmother would listen to their granddaughter urinate to figure out whether they have been cut or not as circumcised girls do not produce noise while urinating in comparison to the uncircumcised one.
As nerve-wracking as it sounds, these things make us question- Has our so-called traditions and culture overpowered humanity? Women’s lives are not only worsened, but they face life-threatening circumstances. Tumour, cysts, infections, severe bleeding problems, excessive menstruation pain, miscarriages, to name a few. Can one imagine the most natural urinating process would be difficult, leading to unimaginable pain and discomfort?
However, there have been laws set against this evil practice, including in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA and at least 13 countries in Western Europe. Various awareness campaigns and activism has taken the front line to raise a voice against this violence. FGM is not only a violation of women’s rights, but it also violates basic human rights, which gives enough reasons to bring an end to this torture. Adding to this, one cannot stress the need for education and awareness.
6th February, which is observed as International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, should not just be seen as a date, but one should understand the very significance and essence of it and let ourselves remind about the whys and hows of this inhumane practice being carried under the veil of ancient traditions and customs.
It makes me wonder what religion God has asked women to suffer like this. If not this being the case, what part of the sadistic mindset of people leads one to question our morality and humanity in general.