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Female genital mutilation: Most neglected crime
Female genital mutilation is the most dreadful, heinous and unimaginable human rights violation practised in many traditionally rooted societies across the globe. A girl child, as young as three years old can be the victim of this mindless custom.

FGM OR female circumcision - is the most dreadful, heinous and unimaginable human rights violation practised in many traditionally rooted societies across the globe. A girl child, as young as three years old can be the victim of this cruel practice of mindless custom. In most cases, elderly female kin are the operators, corroborated by the child’s parents.

Female circumcision is rampantly practised among the aboriginal tribes in the regions of the ’Horn of Africa’ (Africa’s easternmost region including countries like Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia). Researchers of the United Nations, working in a mission to eliminate this menace, revealed that about 5,800 tender-aged girls are forced to undergo this surgical procedure of genital distortion every day in nearly 27 countries.

According to experts and video clips available on Internet, usually, a girl child is tied up and surrounded by indifferent elderly women inside a claustrophobic confine. One or two untrained women surgeons with no medical training would sit before the crying, helpless victim. With country-made surgical instruments like a knife or a sharpened stone, the sexual organ (genitalia) of the child is cut, maimed and in some cases, even removed. After the vital organ responsible for sexual arousal is operated upon, the incision is applied with medicines prepared with herbs and spices and sewn up. And she is left crying, screaming for the shooting pain to lull but useless! The door is locked for hours until she becomes stout enough to bear the recurring stings of the circumcision.

The myth behind this inhuman act is that it strengthens virginity and prevents the urge of sexual gratification. The belief goes to the extent that it is the most effective way to enable daughters to find suitable husbands. After the child grows up and is married, the husband may cut open the disfigured vagina just enough to allow intercourse. But, it is opened fully only when the girl is ready to give birth to a child. Girls who have undergone circumcision are at larger risk of genital ailments like cysts, fistulas − holes in the bladder, urinary tract and bowel, caused during labour, which leads to incontinence − and even death in childbirth.

Emigration from Africa has immensely increased in the recent past. Countries, which have been gradually and silently been affected by this tradition virus are Australia, America, Britain and many European countries. But, this crime is seemingly untreatable because of its shrouded nature of secrecy. It continues in low profile families inside closed doors. On the public front, not many people have held the mike to speak out against it except Waris Dirie, a Somalian supermodel who declared that she had been genitally mutilated. She has been appointed as a UN special ambassador.

In October 2007, the department of midwifery, City University, and the London School of hygiene and tropical medicine conducted a research, which sums up, "More than 20,000 young girls are under threat in England alone every year. However, doctors and midwives are aware of it, but they are powerless to check it."

England had its Female Genital Mutilation Act passed in 2003. The law makes it a criminal offence to take a child out of the country to get her circumcised abroad. The penalty is a maximum 14 years rigorous imprisonment. Unfortunately, there have been least prosecutions despite health officials and police knowing that it operates in the country.

FGM is a complicated vice as one does not wish to violate one’s customs and traditions, which their ancestors passed onto them. But, where does the logic lie? How can such a nefarious and cruel practice, which is a gross violation of human rights, be allowed to perpetuate in the name of preserving dark and ignorant customs?

Undeniably, human rights or say in particular, women’s rights are more important than any ethnic rituals. The crime cannot be checked by powerless agents of Non-Governmental Organisations or the United Nations Organisation. It needs serious action by governments and international intelligence agencies like Interpol. Moreover, the subject is still not in knowledge of many. Therefore, it needs wider sensitisation through inclusion of this subject in academic curricula at both school level and at colleges.

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