Genital mutilation is an unfortunate reality in both developed and developing nations. While both male and female genital mutilation in the form of circumcision exists, this paper focuses heavily on the issue of female genital mutilation in Africa. This sample sociology paper explores genital FGM in African civilization.
Understanding genital mutilation
Gender roles and stereotyping throughout the world vary by country and culture. In some countries, men and women are valued the same, and the roles of each gender can be shared between the sexes. However, in certain countries, such as Africa, the roles of men and women in the country are quite different.
Men are viewed as the dominant sex, while women are controlled by their husbands and prepared for marriage at an early age by undergoing a procedure called female genital mutilation. Although female genital mutilation is a gender role in Africa, human rights organizations are now intervening to eliminate this painful and deadly cultural tradition.
Gender roles in Africa
In Africa, the roles of men and women in this society are very different. According to Jesse Mann and Baffour Takyi, men are the breadwinner, and they control the resources in the household and their wives. The male dominance in this society may be due to the fact that men have to pay a dowry to marry their wife.
As a result, Jesse Mann and Baffour Takyi found that women in Africa are subjected to violent rape and underage statutory rape. Men may believe that they own their wives, which could explain the high rates of violence against women in this society. In contrast, women in Africa are viewed as less important than men. The women’s role is to marry, serve her husband, and to have children.
Genital mutilation as a societal norm
To ensure that a woman is pure for her husband, women in Africa are required to undergo female genital mutilation. According to Razor’s Edge, genital mutilation is a rite of passage that involves circumcision of several parts of the female genitalia to reduce a woman’s sexual desires. In Africa, this procedure is a cultural tradition that can be traced back thousands of years.
Nawal Nour found that “while the origins of female genital mutilation are unknown, it existed in ancient Egypt, Ethiopia, and Greece.”
Since that time, millions of females have undergone this painful procedure to preserve their virginity and to protect their status in their society. Statistics on female genital mutilation prove that this is a widely practiced procedure in Africa.
World Health Organization determined that “101 million females in Africa have had the procedure.”
Furthermore, in Africa, this procedure is still practiced in 28 countries, and females from birth to 15 years old are required to participate in this rite of passage. Unfortunately, Razor’s Edge found that many girls have this procedure performed in unsanitary conditions without the supervision of a doctor or nursing staff. As a result, females may experience severe short and long-term consequences including heavy bleeding, HIV and AIDS, infection, and death.
Efforts to stop FGM in Africa and other nations
Fortunately, human rights organizations across the globe are working with countries to end female genital mutilation in Africa. According to Razor’s Edge, in 2005, 16 countries in Africa had laws that would prosecute those people who continued to perform the procedure on females. As more countries vow to end this deadly procedure, the United Nations has now joined in to address this gender role in Africa.
World Health Organization explained in 2012, the “UN General Assembly accepted a resolution to end female genital mutilation.”
Hopefully, this resolution will lead to a global ban on female genital mutilation, and women will no longer have to fear this dangerous and deadly procedure.
Female genital mutilation is caused by society’s view of gender roles. Human rights organizations are now intervening to eliminate this painful and deadly cultural tradition. Millions of women in Africa have been forced to undergo this procedure to preserve their virginity for their future husband. While this procedure is still occurring today, human rights organizations and the United Nations are taking steps to ban this ritual in Africa and throughout the world.
Mann, Jesse, and Baffour Takyi. “Autonomy, Dependence or Culture: Examining the Impact of Resources and Socio-cultural Processes on Attitudes Towards Intimate Partner Violence in Ghana, Africa.” Journal of Family Violence 24 (2009): 323-335. Web.
Nour, Nawal. Female Genital Cutting: A Persisting Practice. Summer 2008. Web. 9 Nov. 2013.
Razor’s Edge. The Controversy of Female Genital Mutilation. Mar. 2005. Web. 9 Nov. 2013.
World Health Organization. Female Genital Mutilation. Feb. 2013. Web. 9 Nov. 2013.