African Tradition of Female Circumcision

A barbaric custom that is carried out in the name of religion

Female Circumcision, African Tradition, female genital mutilation

The African tradition of female circumcision is the ritual of the rite of passage from girlhood into the realm of womanhood. It is practiced by the indigenous communities, and by the Christian and the Muslims, alike. Judaism is the only faith that does not adhere to this tradition.

The prevalence of this custom dates back to the time of the Pharaohs in Egypt. The famous Jewish philosopher Philo explicitly mentions in his works that the Egyptian women are circumcised whereas the Jewish women are not. This goes on to prove beyond any doubt that female circumcision was practised before the advent of Christianity and Islam and therefore has no direct or indirect connection with both these religions, which is a common misconception among those who are against this practise and want to see it stopped.

Defended by the revivalists and referred to as female genital mutilation (FGM) by the progressive elements, the centuries old African tradition of female circumcision, is on the whole a painful, dangerous and a deleterious practice. It is much more painful than the male circumcision and has fatal consequences if the “cut” is incorrectly made, and it is more than often because it is the mid-wives in these communities who perform this surgical procedure rather than qualified doctors.

It is prevalent in almost the whole of the African continent. Many governments in Africa, Kenya for instance has declared the practice illegal but it still is carried out in the name of culture and religion. According to the Human Rights Watch Organization, it should be treated as child abuse and stringent laws with harsher punishment be imposed on individuals and communities found practising this barbarity in the name of tradition.

But it is all easier said than done, as this custom is deeply rooted in the communities wherein it is practised. The main obstacle in the eradication or complete elimination of this tradition is religion. So it is the responsibility of the religious leaders in these communities which sanction female circumcision to come forward and educate the masses that this practise is not sanctioned either by Christianity or Islam, but has its origins in the pagan traditions and customs.

As the practice of female circumcision is done secretly, not much statistical data is available, but whatever little research has been done in this field and statistical data obtained by institutions like the United Nations , the World Health Organization and non governmental organizations (NGOs) shows its widespread prevalence on the African continent. According to the scant data that is available concerning the practice of female circumcision or female genital mutilation varies from 98 percent in Egypt to only 5 percent in Guinea-Bissau.

There are also reported cases of female circumcision in Europe, United States of America, Latin America, Australia and Asia. In fact the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, has recently instituted a committee to track and to report the incidences of FMG, in order to put an end to this barbaric African tradition of female circumcision.

By: Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada

The Guardian

The Root

Standard Digital

9 Responses to "African Tradition of Female Circumcision"

  1. Alysandra   November 28, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Anyone promoting MGM is also promoting FGM which is descended from it and done for the exact same reasons. Either you believe in bodily integrity or you don’t. As long as MGM exists it will also pose a threat to girls and the intersexed.

  2. Shoshana   November 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    These comments comparing male circumcision to female circumcision are ridiculous. One is the forced removal of healthy, erogenous tissue from a non-consenting person, while the other is…oh, wait…

  3. pat   November 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    It more likely originated somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa a few thousand years ago. Although there’s no written documentation of it, there’s wide speculation that genital cutting (both male and female) was invented for the sole purpose of diminishing sexual pleasure, to make the act less desirable. Various cultures have used all sorts of other excuses for it, including religious justifications, to hide or all but completely obscure its original purpose.

  4. Patricia Robinett   November 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Editors, are you aware that the words “Watch, laugh and learn” show on this video at the beginning? I would hardly laugh at someone being circumcised. And the ephemism “coming of age” is a pretty way to justify the continuing genital torture of children. We do it in America too. We used to do it to girls – they got me – and we still do it to boys. There is no sane excuse for treating children cruelly.

  5. Ron Low   November 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Both male and female genital cutting kill hundreds annually.

    End ALL non-therapeutic forced genital cutting.

  6. Rick   November 6, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    The foreskin Has 20,000 nerve endings.
    The clitoris has 8,000.

  7. Robert   November 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Circumcision is circumcision is circumcision. For male and female, it was done to “calm” the organ. Great revenue stream for the practitioner. Otherwise just a relic from the bronze age, or older. Not quite as bad as human sacrifice, but lets evolve anyway.

  8. Angel   November 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    The word mutilation is stigmatizing and causes even more harm. There is no room in this day and age for genital cutting of any sort or for any gender. I fail to see how it can be more painful than male circumcision in Africa. Proving that a boy can conquer pain before he becomes a man is the purpose of the ritual. Both male and female circumcision are painful and unsafe, and many end up getting HIV. Comparing pain and harm is a stupid argument because it implies female circumcision will become more acceptable if it was performed painlessly and safely. By the way it is fatal for many men also, in South Africa over 80 boys died this year and more than 300 ended up in hospital. But lets all look the other way and pretend it is harmless for guys.

  9. Jim Lineen   November 6, 2013 at 11:08 am

    “A barbaric custom that is carried out in the name of religion”- for a minute there, I thought they were talking about Male Genital Mutilation.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.