Photo courtesy of DFID - UK Department for International Development.
Female genital mutilation / cutting is not an easy subject to talk about. After all, it involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia.
For this reason, many people do not know this practice exists, or that more than 125 million women and girls around the world live with its consequences today. For those who do know about FGM/C, far too many think the practice is here to stay.
That's not the story I've come to believe. Whether you care about global health, good governance, international development, or human rights, the many stories of FGM/C are ones we need to hear and share.
- FGM/C is a story about global health. In many parts of the world, it is carried out by untrained practitioners, with no anesthesia, using blades or razors that aren't cleaned between uses. Afterward, girls are at risk of hemorrhaging, recurrent infections, complications in child birth, and even death. They may be at greater risk for HIV and AIDS. In countries where Ebola has devastated communities, the practice can increase the risk of contracting the disease. That's why, in places like Sierra Leone, our Embassy has worked with local health care providers to prevent the spread of Ebola and increase awareness of FGM/C as a potential point of transmission.
This is the power of the stories of FGM/C. We need to make sure we're listening.