Female genital mutilation is often practiced in Northern and sub-Saharan Africa. The opponents of this surgery believe that it is supposed to increase sexual attractiveness of women or young girls.
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Moreover, there are no medical reasons to perform it. However, one cannot easily draw parallels between female genital mutilation and other procedures that women undertake in more developed countries. In order to illustrate this argument, one should focus on the social and cultural origins of this practice. To a great extent, it can be explained by considerable gender inequalities existing in many African communities in which women do not have any opportunity for expressing their disagreement with existing behavioral norms.
Admittedly, one can say that in various advanced countries, women often undergo cosmetic surgeries that cannot be explained by any medical reasons. To a great extent, these women attempt to reach the standards of physical attractiveness, established in the society. Moreover, these standards can be imposed on them through various agents of socialization such as mass media. However, there are some distinctions that should not be overlooked.
First of all, female genital mutilation is widespread in the communities in which the rights of women are virtually non-existent (“Jane’s Story: Surviving Violence”). For instance, they can be beaten almost to death, and they cannot expect any protection from the community. Moreover, young girls do not give their consent for this surgery; in fact, they can be forced to undergo this procedure (“Jane’s Story: Surviving Violence”).
They are not allowed to raise any objections or even speak about the painfulness of genital mutilation. Such protests are usually not tolerated. In contrast, women, who choose to undertake cosmetic surgery, do it voluntarily. Certainly, there is some social pressure which can prompt them to reach the standards of physical beauty. However, their informed consent is necessary. This is why it is difficult to compare female genital mutilation with other procedures that can be performed in more developed countries.
Additionally, it is important to remember that female genital mutilation can be viewed as a rite of passage in many African communities (Ogega 3).
In many cases, it implies that a girl passes into womanhood. So, this practice is a part of the cultural tradition. This is one of the reasons why the government finds it very difficult to eliminate this practice by legally prohibiting it (Ogega 3). This is one of the peculiarities that should be taken into account. In contrast the procedures undertaken by women in more developed countries are not ritualistic. This is another difference that should not be overlooked.
Overall, female genital mutilation can be regarded as an example of discrimination against women. In many cases, they can be denied the right to their own bodies. Moreover, one should not forget that this surgery can pose a great threat to the health or even lives of women since they can be exposed to the risk of infection.
Nevertheless, one should not draw parallels between this practice and other procedures that are widespread in more advanced countries. Female genital mutilation is the result of great gender inequalities in African communities. Women and girls, who are subjected to this procedure, are not able to express their discontent. This is one of the main arguments that can be put forward.
“Jane’s Story: Surviving Violence”. MPANZI, n.d. Web. <https://mpanzi.org/>.
Ogega, Jackie. Pervasive Violence: What Makes Female Genital Cutting Possible, Even Inevitable? New York: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012. Print.