Summer break is the time when most children enjoy time away from school. Many of us have happy memories of those days from our childhoods. However, with increased immigration of Muslims into western nations, there is a growing population of schoolgirls that will not remember their summer as a time of happiness. In fact, for some young girls the summer holiday is known as the “cutting season,” because it is the time of year when many young girls undergo FGM – female genital mutilation. FGM refers to the practice of partially or totally removing the external female genitalia, for non-medical reasons.
The procedure is frequently performed without anesthesia by people without any medical training, and with instruments such as scalpels, pieces of broken glass and tin can lids. The practice has no health benefits and can cause health problems including “severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth,” according to the World Health Organization.
One young Kenyan woman describes her experience; “Innocently like a sheep to be taken to a slaughter house, one woman came and told me that I should wake up as it was my day to become a woman…. By that time my mother was nowhere to be seen, at least to see the state I was in and to help me. … According to my community during this fateful day, your mother is not supposed to be present as they believe you will cry and call her for help and as a woman who bears the pain of giving birth, a mother can’t stand to see the pain that you are going through. …they took a piece of cloth, tied it around my eyes and held my head back and then they gave me another piece which they put in my mouth so that I could bite it during the whole process to ease the pain. Two women held my legs and hands so tight that I could not move. Then I felt a very sharp pain between my legs. This was a turning point in my life. The pain I felt can’t be described; thinking of it brings cold shivers inside me.”
Worldwide the UN estimates that 6,000 girls and women are circumcised every day with 140 million women currently living with the consequences of FGM. The countries with the highest rates of FGM are Muslim majority countries even though the practice predates Islam, and is practiced by people from other religious backgrounds.
Even though the practice predates Islam and is practiced by people from other religious backgrounds, the highest incidence of FGM is in Muslim majority countries such as Indonesia (86%), Sudan (89%), and Egypt (90%).
It is important to realize that many of the victims in western nations are immigrants who had the procedure done while still living in their former nation. British authorities estimate that more than 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at high risk of FGM (female genital mutilation) in England and Wales. The European parliament estimates that 500,000 girls and women in the European Union are living with FGM with approximately another 180,000 girls in Europe at risk of undergoing the procedure. Britain has had at least 66,000 women and girls who have experienced this practice and Australia’s Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital reported approximately 700 cases of FGM. Between 150-200,000 of women and girls in the United States are at risk of having this done. The practice has increased by 35% in the U.S. since 1996. Again, the majority has experienced this procedure before they immigrated to the western nation.
Most Western nations have laws against the practice of FGM, and the United States and Britain have laws prohibiting the transporting of a girl abroad for the purpose of undergoing FGM.
As difficult as it is to hear of this, it is so important that we as believers declare that communities will be awakened to the horrors of this cultural practice and realize the harm this procedure can cause women. Pray that those who have undergone the procedure will have the courage to speak out clearly so others do not have to suffer.
Pray that the authorities in western nations will have the necessary laws in place to be able to stop those who attempt to take their daughters abroad to be circumcised.
This procedure is physically painful and emotionally traumatizing. God has promised them in Psalm 147:3 that, “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Ask the Lord to bring His healing and comfort to the victims of FGM and reveal His Son Jesus to their hearts.