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British Broadcasting Corporation Home. Genital cutting is widespread within some African cultures and ethnic groups. It is seen as the climax of initiation, something that both boys and girls have to take part in before they are accepted as adults in the community. Those opposed to genital cutting prefer to use the term female genital mutilation. Female circumcision usually involves the cutting or removal of the clitoris. This area of the genitals is very sensitive because it contains the most nerve endings.
Genital cutting is a painful practice that is often poorly carried out, and endangers the health and lives of millions of girls, particularly in Africa. In some communities the controversial practice is a female rite of passage and remains an important religious and cultural tradition.
In regions where a new religion has become dominant, the tradition of genital cutting does not necessarily die out. Even in the United States, 10, girls are believed to be at risk from illegal operations within their own communities.
Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. Young people leave home to be trained in the ways of adult life. For girls this means learning practical skills before returning to their homes as women. According to supporters, the process of female genital cutting has practical merits in a physically harsh society.
It is proof that the woman is mentally strong and able to deal with the difficult responsibilities of adult life. It also has religious and social ificance. The shedding of blood is seen symbolically as a stream connecting the circlist uk to the rest of her close-knit community. In a small community circlist uk is very important.
The ritual is also seen as an essential preparation for marriage. After the initiation rituals women begin looking for a husband and hope to start a family. They argue that circlist uk is a barbaric and needless practice inflicted on innocent young women. It is certainly a painful process.
It is sometimes carried out by a midwife with anaesthetics, but more often than not there is nothing to ease the pain. The operation involved varies widely from culture to culture. In its most extreme form infibulation it can involve the removal of all external genitalia and the stitching up of the labia leaving only a very small opening for sex, urination, menstruation and giving birth.
This often makes a later operation necessary to create a larger opening. Many objections to the practice of genital cutting are concerned with the particular circumstances in which it is done.
Amnesty International, a human rights organisation, reports that the operation is often carried out using blunt tools penknives, fragments of glass or tin cans. A particularly brutal operation can leave a woman with haemorrhaging, infections, abscesses and sometimes a lifelong loss of sensation during sex.
The Pan-African Committee on Traditional Practices estimates that two million girls in Africa each year undergo some kind of genital cutting which endangers both their health and their lives. Another objection concerns the inability of some young women to make a choice. Cutting takes place when a girl is young aged between three and tenvulnerable and unable to make an informed decision. In a small village community pressure to take part is enormous. Female genital cutting is currently practised among ethnic groups in 28 countries in central Africa. Representatives from many of these countries meet each year to discuss ways to end the practice.
The Kenyan Government, for example, estimates that 32 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 have undergone the procedure in more than half of the country's districts. Inthe Ministry of Health conducted a demographic survey which revealed that genital cutting circlist uk more widespread amongst certain ethnic groups. In north eastern Kenya, an area not covered in the survey, the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs estimates that at least 98 per cent of girls are subjected to infibulation.
Banning female genital cutting is not a simple solution. Countries have to be wary about forcing the practice underground. This circlist uk result in high mortality rates, as in the case of abortion. They will also have to consider the effect on women who have already had the operation. Such women will have taken part in this rite for religious and cultural reasons.
Imposing a ban may appear, on the surface, to be the best way forward. But it is unlikely to be observed in communities where the practice is already deeply ingrained. Nevertheless, opponents still insist that failure to act is not an option. They argue that female circumcision is not a cultural issue and that women and children should not be coerced into painful operations against their will. In Junenew figures showed that up to 76, women living in the UK may have undergone illegal operations. An circlist uk 7, girls are still thought to be at risk. Health professionals claim that girls living in Britain have been circumcised in operations overseas organised by family members.
Inthe UK government closed a loophole to prevent young women from being taken abroad for circumcision. The then home secretary, David Blunkett, condemned genital cutting as "very harmful" and warned that parents would face imprisonment if they broke the law.
Female Circumcision in Africa: an Overview. Introduction to African ReligionJohn S. Mbiti, Heinemann; 2nd edition December 1, Search term:. This is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets CSS enabled. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets CSS if you are able to do so. This has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about archiving. Ethics guide. Female circumcision. Cultural tradition Cultural tradition Genital cutting is circlist uk within some African cultures and ethnic groups.
Painful procedure Painful procedure Those opposed to genital cutting prefer to use the term female genital mutilation. A human rights violation? Case for a woldwide ban Case for a woldwide ban Banning female genital cutting is not a simple solution. UK statistics UK statistics In Junenew figures showed that up to 76, women living in the UK may have undergone illegal operations.
Mbiti, Heinemann; 2nd edition December 1, Top. Find out more Male circumcision Top. See also. Religion and Ethics home Religions. Settings out.Circlist uk
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Is infant male circumcision an abuse of the rights of the child? Yes