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Female Circumcision: Trauma and Horror of a Life Time

Female Circumcision: Trauma and Horror of a Life Time-Many teenage girls and women in Africa will never forget the experience they went through as a result of the mutilation of parts of their vaginas during circumcision rites.

The picture of some old women holding their legs apart, while an old man or old woman with crude surgical knife chops off her clitoris, will remain in their memory for life. The question is of what use the butchering of parts of a woman’s vagina?

Modern-day health workers are yet to find a rationale for this traditional practice which is peculiar to certain tribes in Africa. They are lost in finding justification for excising the clitoris. Today, the practice is still being carried out in some areas though. “the victims” themselves do not understand why.

Basically, there are three different ways of circumcising women, there are; Sunna, excision, and infibulation. The three different types of circumcision are based on religion and tradition, depending on the section of the society. Going by the result, one could say that what is being done during the process is just the mutilation of the genitals.

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1. Sunna

Sunna is the least severe form, as it involves just the removal of the clitoral blood while preserving the clitoris itself and the adjacent organ.

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2. Excision

This is also known as clitoridectomy which ranks next to Sunna. It is the removal of the blood and the gland of the clitoris; a part or whole of the labia minora-the flap of flesh at the entrance of the vagina, leaving the labia majora intact, without closing up the vulva.

3. Infibulation

The most horrible of the three, however, is infibulation. The crude operation involves the surgical removal of the whole of the clitoris, the labia minora and a part of the labia majora. The two sides of the vulva are then stitched together, leaving only a small opening to allow urinary and menstrual flow. The stitching of the vulva after excision is called infibulation.

Unbelievably, it is not only teenagers and young girls that are subjected to this barbaric practice, but rather pregnant women are also not immune from the operation that could take place even at advanced stages of their pregnancies.

However, the concern should be more on the health hazards to which the victims of the female circumcisions are subjected. The simple fact that the operation is performed in an unhygienic environment, with unsterilized instruments handled by unskilled attendants, exposes the victims to great health hazards.

Additionally, the victims usually suffer pains which often lead to shock, having been subjected to no surgical anesthesia. More often than not, the vulva is wounded, thereby creating room for the possibility of infection. If it is not treated, bacteria, from the infection may get into the bloodstream leading to possible blood poisoning (septicemia).

Another area of the health hazard of Female Circumcision: Trauma and Horror of a Life Time is the possibility of chronic pelvic infection, which can occur in two ways.

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There could be an infection at the time of circumcision; urinary retention and vaginal secretions which could arise from infections such as cystitis, vaginitis, and cervicitis. This may, in turn, develop into chronic pelvic inflammation.

Meanwhile, here is also a possibility, of the Fallopian tube been blocked. Should this occur, the woman may become infertile. Thus, in order to prevent promiscuity, the woman may, out of ignorance, be rendered somewhat insensitive to arousal.

It has been identified that painful menstruation, otherwise called dysmenorrhea, as one of the resultant effects of pelvic infection and pelvic congestion. This is because the menstrual flow may be hindered due to a tiny vaginal opening left after the mutilation and stitching.

This could, in turn, lead to a chain of reactions, one of which is painful lovemaking (hematocele) and dyspareunia. Also, gynecologists often find it difficult to carry out examination and direct visualization of the cervix and the vagina in a patient with a vaginal infection. The bi-manual or speculum examination necessary as the case may be is often difficult to carry out.

Similarly, there could also be problems during child childbirth. This is because, by its natural formation, the skin of the vulva and the vagina normally soft and elastic, to allow for easy expansion of the vagina orifice to give the baby easy passage.

However, the excision of parts or the whole of the vulva during circumcision renders the tissues of the area dense and hard due to scarring. It causes narrowing of the canal, and total loss of the elasticity resulting in two major obstetric problems: the need for an episiotomy and a delay in the second stage of labor, any of these problems has serious health implications both on the mother and the baby.

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Moreover, another problem associated with female circumcision is the delay in the second stage of labor when the cervix should be fully dilated and the mother can push the baby out of the uterus down into the vagina. Unless the woman is de-infibulated and the excision scar opened on time, there is a tendency for prolonged labour.

Besides, there is a constant pressure exerted by the baby’s head on both the anterior part of the urethra and the posterior part of the rectum. It is observed that this can lead to the impairment of blood circulation, tissue necrosis, devitalization, and fistula formation.

Fistula, which is a break in the separating tissue wall, may occur between the urethra, bladder and the vagina which is called a retro-vaginal fistula, which may happen a few days after delivery. Fistula formation can also complicate traumatic instrumentation (forced delivery) in obstructed cases.

Moreover, if during labour, hard tissue is not opened, the baby’s head may stop in the vagina. There, the baby is deprived of oxygen, after a long time, he stands the risk of being delivered dead or with brain damage.

The psychological and traumatic effect of circumcision on women will forever send a signal of violence to the victim’s mind. when such girls grow up, they may view sex as a game of violence. Today, most broken marriages are attributed to sexual problems according to psychologists. The practice makes a woman more a man because the only thing that brings them a feeling of the mutual core of marriage has been lessened in a woman.

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