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September 2019

Afr Health. 1995 May; 17(4): 40.

This barbarous practice [letter]

Rotibi A.

Female "circumcision" or genital mutilation is the cruelest and most harmful of African traditional practices. The existence of this barbaric and medically unwarranted operation has serious adverse effects on women and children. It is estimated that over 80 million women across Africa have been circumcised and the practice is by no means restricted to the poorer, illiterate sections of society. Any girl who undergoes the crude circumcision procedure suffers massive psychological trauma. The operation is desperately painful and is also extremely unhygienic, unsterilized knives or pieces of broken glass being used. The risk of infection is very high and there is a possibility of transmission of HIV. The use of herbs to stop bleeding only adds to the risks. Consequences include pelvic and urinary disorders, an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases and complications during childbirth. Deaths, permanent health problems, and long absences from school or work, as a result of female genital mutilation, contribute to the under-development of the countries where it is practiced. Far from dying out, the practice could well be on the increase. Many women who were not circumcised as girls as forced or cajoled into being mutilated as adults. Africans should, as part of our efforts to improve the health of women and children, set the goal of eliminating all harmful traditional practices by the year 2000.full text

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