The beautiful female body is prized and worshiped in the west. We would never think of mutilating it, or would we? In some countries, the practice of cutting women is considered ‘normal’ and is widespread. The description of female genital mutilation (FGM) is enough to make one nauseated, especially if you are a woman. Imagine the fact that over 125 million women have undergone this procedure worldwide, mostly in 29 countries across Africa and the Middle East. That number is around half the population of the United States. Considering the great risk this poses to these women, as the cutting can result in severe bleeding and death, and the shocking implications such an act has in the value of women – female genital mutilation must clearly stop!
In some ways it still feels as though we live in the middle ages, when violent and unfair acts still occur on individuals for the benefit of others. While on one side of the world, women can rule the workplace, own a jaguar, cellphone and multiple businesses, live alone and choose her mate at will; on the other side of the world a woman is having her entire female genitalia cut off so it will seal up, ensuring her virginity and the pleasure of a future husband. Is there something wrong here? Obviously.
Just to impact the consciousness with enough imagery for desired change – let me briefly describe the procedure as written in sources:
Female infibulation, known as Type III female genital mutilation (FGM)—and in some African countries as “pharaonic circumcision”—is the removal of the labia minora (inner lips) and labia majora (outer lips). When the labial tissue heals, it forms a wall of skin and flesh across the vagina and the rest of the pubic area. By inserting a twig or similar before the wound heals, a small hole is created for the passage of urine and menstrual blood. The procedure is usually accompanied by the removal of the clitoris. The legs are bound together for two to four weeks to allow the labia to heal into a barrier. The procedure is usually carried out on young girls before the onset of puberty.
This procedure is ‘undone’ on the ‘wedding night’ by the girl’s husband…though often times the hole is too small for penetration and must be cut “with a sharp knife or piece of glass.” Are we horrified yet? Just to add continued torture to the poor woman’s trials, at childbirth, what is called ‘defibulation’ occurs because the opening is too small for the infant’s head to pass through. And then, after, you guessed it – seal up the ‘dangerous’ hole once again…for pleasure of the husband, of course! These are just some of the shocking implications of female genital mutilations – that women are simply objects for a man’s pleasure – again, middle ages anyone?
Change starts here
Awareness is the first step in creating change, always. Though we may want to turn an ignorant cheek, pretending such practices exist, the truth is – they do. It is amazing that we can go our whole lives completely oblivious to the horrors inflicted on others living on the same planet. Yes, we all have trials and tribulations, some more devastating and suggestively painful than others – and then there are certain things that are just beyond the scope of imagination taking place in the name of ….what? Still struggling with this one. The only answer seems to be the continued dominance of a male patriarchal system on this planet.
To approach this in the same way Dr. Hew Len, who healed an entire ward of mentally ill criminals with the ancient self-reflection practice of ‘Ho’oponopono’, we could all take a moment to look inside ourselves, to see where the injustice exists in our own beings. Where are we still affirming the degradation of the feminine? Where are we – inside – repeating acts of violence and mutilation against our own beings? It could be in a small way, but if it is there at all – it needs healing.
In case you are unfamiliar with Dr. Len’s story, I will describe it in brief. The practice of Ho’oponopono’ is a Hawaiian healing prayer for self-healing and the healing of the world. It’s basic structure is to reflect on those who you have unresolved hurt or anger with and to bring each person to mind, with the intention to heal the feelings within yourself first. The prayer is universal and basically incorporates these four statements: “I’m Sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.” By taking the file of each inmate, and never coming face to face with any of them, Dr. Len looked at each one and the charges and conditions they faced. Bringing them into his mind and consciousness, he searched for the place, ever how small, that these people’s ‘acts’ and ‘behaviors’ existed in himself. With this deep contemplation, he performed Ho’oponopono on each one, repeatedly until he felt an inner shift.
One by one each inmate stopped giving trouble, healed and was released. The mental institution was eventually closed, where previously it had been so out of hand they could not acquire enough help for these people. How and why does this work? We can only guess that quantum physics are at play, the greater connectivity of the fields between us all – where when one of us makes a shift, we affect the whole.
In returning to the issue of female genitalia mutilation, when we feel there is nothing personally we can do to stop such horror, there is. We can take a look within ourselves and find those places which agree with violence, which agree with female disempowerment, which fear sexuality and it’s power. We must locate the places and thought forms within our own minds and attitudes and seek to create change there first. When we can do this, just like psychologist Dr. Hew Len, we can heal the world from the inside out. Female Genital Mutilation and it’s shocking implications which affect us all- must stop and we can contribute to this by starting to shift the perspectives we hold within. There are outer organizations we can support as well, as education leads to change, but let us not discount the power we each hold inside. Sometimes we feel we are too small to make a change – this is simply not so. In the words of Robert F. Kennedy:
Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Written by: Stasia Bliss
Related Article: Female Genital Mutilation: Millions of Girls at Risk, UNICEF Says