Female Genital Mutilation– Broken lives, broken minds

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What manner of man invents atrocious butchery like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

When I think that the whole practice of FGM came about by egotistical men who had nothing better to invent than to worry about their wives possible philandering adventures, I have this sour residue in my mouth.

Back then, and dare I add, even today in Africa, it was/is somewhat acceptable that a man could be joined in unholy union to other women besides their spouse or several spouses. Philandering was, and dare I add, even today, something reserved for men only.

Families back around the times of FGM, were mainly in polygamous settings.  The men were traders who would go to distant lands to bring back small fortunes without the fame, while their wives stayed behind keeping house.  According to legend, to stop wives conceiving the inconceivable, FGM itself was conceived.

You got to give these guys some kind of medal, can’t think what medal besides handcuffs, but these men were obviously excellent in biology.  They clearly understood the anatomy of a woman probably more so than their women or even some women today!    While husbands were away on their long business mixed with pleasure trips,  FGM became the guarantee of reassurance of ‘wife faithfulness’…

Dare I digress here…to even suggest that African women are promiscuous… because this is what FGM in a nutshell mildly suggests… is a slap in the face of African women.  African women throughout the centuries have had to endure their fair share of African life’s wahalas. 

And these troubles are not small compared to what most other women in the world face…be it war, disease, poverty, to brainstorm a few.  African women need to be applauded for mental and emotional strength; not treated like something that was bargained for at King Jimmy Friday’s market.

But here’s my question.  In African settings, is it not even acceptable that married men have one or more girlfriends?   Do not our films and cartoon portray this?  So why the unfair imbalance of barbarism towards women?  Why are we punishing women in advance for something when the likelihood of infidelity among African women is minimal?

Is this innuendo not emotionally damaging?  What mental pictures do we carry in our minds of our women?  And the fact that this cruelty is performed on young girls makes my whole body tremble like a dry leaf on a tree on a hurricane day.

Next, how do you enter the head of some elderly, brainwashed woman who herself went terrifyingly to the slaughter?  Fast forward 50 years, she is now the one holding the knife to perform same?  How can she not remember the corrupted emotions, the avalanche of fear, the soul wrenching dread…the unfathomable pain?

Would she now turn around and tell us this thing called FGM is a mark of proud dignity?   That she is all the better for doing it among her peers who did not?

If FGM is her trophy, can she not remember how as a result, that she always feigned the master headache of all headaches towards her husband?  How she could not be seen to be deriving any satisfaction, and that right had been taken away from her?

Has she developed amnesia of the emotional damage and mental scars that she had to bury inside her for decades for the sake of her sanity?   Can she not remember how she bled for days?  How she even nearly died possibly?  Does not the words ‘life threatening’ restrain the hand that now carries the weapon of destruction?

Can we ourselves perhaps  blame illiteracy? Should we blame illiteracy?  And if we dismiss FGM as an act by illiterates or the unenlightened, are we saying these unenlightened women who carry out this act are emotionally and mentally anaesthetised?

Should we turn a blind eye because perhaps it does not affect us or our inner circles?  Do we even care?

Being held down amidst deafening screaming followed by one swift slice is not a performance for our times.   It does not matter even if the instruments are now sterile and not shared.  It does not matter even if anaesthetic is administered.  It does not change the fact that we are perpetuating a masochistic ritual.

The whole distorted thinking of FGM is sickening sick!  It is grossly selfish. I cannot think of one purpose it serves.  I have read the so called advantages mind you and I wonder!  FGM deprives the woman of pleasure and satisfaction.   Being beholden to your husband’s whims is not an advantage.   It makes a wife, a sexual slave to her husband. That mentality is wrong but we are not having a marriage seminar in this column today!

FGM is the product of a male dominated society.  It is modern day slavery.  FGM violates the rights of a woman.     Truly, should that have a place in today’s enlightened society in Africa?

In modern day Africa, FGM should not.  That’s my vote.   What’s yours?

Mind you, I find it mentally challenging  when I hear some so called enlightened individuals even practise FGM in Europe.  Who are these people?   Of all the things to import, is that something to bring with you to foreign shores?

A lot is being done already individually, by organisations and internationally to stop FGM, but we cannot afford to pause let alone stop.  Till FGM is completely stamped out.   We all have a part to play in our own capacity, every African woman does.  Every  African man does.  Everyone does.

Because the scar of FGM is no trophy for any woman or girl to ever carry.     The mental scars that arise because of FGM will take a higher power to erase permanently from the broken minds of those that endure FGM.

Because FGM sadly wounds not just society but also wounds minds.  Because sadly with FGM  are broken lives and broken minds!

Zoe was born to write.She and her husband Chucks are advocates of mental illnes.Chuck defied mental illness after 18 years with a clean bill of health.Zoe’s award nominated book, DEFYING THE ODDS, chronicles the highs and ‘lows’ of this journey. Zoe, often writing from the standpoint of a caregiver, clearly understands that mental illness does not only affect an individual challenged with the disease, but also families, marriages and society as a whole.Their organisation, Defying Mental Illness, is putting a full stop to the stigma and discrimination of mental illness

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