When culture overrules human rights

Written by Super User.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is practised as a cultural ritual by ethnic groups in 27 countries in sub-Saharan and Northeast Africa, and to a lesser extent in Asia, the Middle East and within immigrant communities elsewhere.

It is typically carried out, with or without anaesthesia, by a traditional circumciser using a knife or razor. The age of the girls varies from weeks after birth to puberty; 


Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types.

1. Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).

2. Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are "the lips" that surround the vagina).

3. Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.

Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.

More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and Middle East where FGM is concentrate.

South Africa is not mentioned as one of the countries that practises this barbaric act, however, research has proven that it is prevelant with the Venda culture...

FGM is one of the cultural practises embedded amongst the Venda community of north-east of South Africa. 

Eight weeks or less after childbirth, Venda women undergo a traditional ceremony called muthuso. Muthuso is a process of cutting the vaginal flesh of the mother by a traditional healer. The flesh is mixed with black powder and oil and applied on the child’s head to prevent goni. 

Goni has been described as a swelling on the back of a child’s head. The Venda people believe that goni can only be cured using the vaginal flesh of the child’s mother. Women who experienced FGM stated that they bleed excessively after the ceremony. 

Moreover, the women stated that there is no postnatal care in Venda. Consequently, the women use traditional medicine and sometimes this leads to death because of substandard treatment.

Vendas also practises FGM as initiation for girls into womanhood. The girls reside in a ‘nonyana’ hut for 24 hours until an appointed day when an old woman performs the clitoris cutting by the river banks.  The girls are branded with a mark on their thighs as evidence of having attended initiation.

Who benefits?


FGM poses many health risks to women, including severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of newborn deaths in childbirth.


The reality is that most females who undergo this procedure are forced into doing, they are scarred both physically and emotionally for life...so many survivors are still living with the side effects that cannot be reversed.


FGM has been outlawed in 33 countries but still the Arab world regards it as an honour towards their culture.


This barbaric procedure cannot and should not be compared to male circumcision.


STOP Female Genital Mutilation.


By : Brendah Kekana



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