As a freshmen, I took an anthropology class: Understanding Cultures. In it, we were exposed to many different cultures and subcultures. One of the topics was female genital mutilation/cutting/circumcision, which primarily takes place in Muslim countries in Africa, and some still occur in Asia and the middle East. It is banned by most western nations, and the World Health Organization, Amnesty International, and the United Nations have all taken a stance against female genital mutilation Putting it lightly, the graphic movies we watched and revealing literature we read were horrifying and made me cringe. There are a variety of ways that females' genitals are mutilated for the purpose of maintaining "purity," becoming a woman, and reducing sexual pleasure (for just the female). They can involve cutting, removing, burning, or sewing shut various genitals, as explained in this article. Many who undergo such procedures are very young girls (sometimes infants). Many are forcibly held down and must endure great pain with these often irreversible alterations, often without anesthesia. These practices are unsafe, using knives or razors for cutting, which can result in excessive bleeding or death. Despite this, some still support female genital mutilation. Below is a video explaining the cultural significance of female genital mutilation to a Sierra Leone community.
How is or isn't this a feminist issue? Should the WHO, UN, and Amnesty International take a stance or get involved, or should tradition be respected? Is it acceptable for infants and children be performed on or just adult women? Is it okay only if the procedure is reversible? Should western countries be more open to this, allowing it in hospitals (and, perhaps, providing a safer experience)? Do you see this as a way in which women are honored and cherished or violated and reduced?