“Unlike male circumcision that has been found to reduce transmission rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, FGM has no medical benefits. It is simply a function of patriarchy meant to sexually control women.”
– Stephanie Musho and Esther M Passaris
In a new opinion piece for Inter Press Service, 2020 New Voices Fellow, Stephanie Musho along with Esther Passaris highlights the dreadful consequences of female genital mutilation – or FGM. In Africa alone, Musho and Passaris note that an “estimated 55 million girls under the age of 15 have experienced – or are at risk of experiencing – FGM” despite the existence of robust laws and policies that criminalize it in at least 28 countries on the continent.
This carries enormous consequences that are devastating, far-reaching, and permeate social, political, and economic facets of the daily lives of these young girls and women. During childbirth for instance, FGM increases “the prevalence of maternal mortality and morbidity by way of obstructed labor, fistula, post-partum hemorrhage, sepsis and ultimately death.” In terms of the psychological impact of FGM, Musho and Passaris note that it results in “depression, crippling anxiety, and even suicide”.
With the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) at their midway point, the need for action is urgent. As noted by Musho and Passaris, if the “current rate of progress continues, it could take nearly 300 years to attain gender equality”. Prioritizing the rights of women and girls and ending FGM, they ultimately highlight, requires a concentrated global effort “where everyone has a responsibility to act”.
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