Protecting the Girl-Child is Important

When a girl is cut it is more than just her body that is changed. When a woman is cut her chances of remaining fertile and able to carry a baby are cut. When a woman is cut her chances of having straightforward childbirths are cut. When a woman is cut her chances of living her life without pain and suffering are cut. When a woman is cut her chances of having a good sexual relationship with her husband are cut. To cut a woman is to cut her chances of living a happy and healthy life.

WHY DOES THE GIRL-CHILD NEED PROTECTING?

Cutting young girls is dangerous and leads to real threats to their wellbeing. The cutting is incredibly painful. Often the procedure is not done with any thought to the infection or the scarring. Many of these girls will not live to be married as the infection; bleeding and damage can lead to the death of the young girl. Even if the girl survives the trauma of the cut the damage done to her body will cause problems throughout her life.

When women marry and wish to have a family they may not be able to do so because of the harm caused to their body by the cutting. The damage done to the genital region means that women who have been cut often experience real pain and difficulty when giving birth to sons and girl children. This can lead to the death of both the mother and the child.

These risks are not matched by any benefits. Cutting women is not required in religious texts. Religious leaders often condemn this form of violence. Girls are born beautiful and clean and all parts of their body are necessary for leading healthy and fulfilling lives. Cutting away or altering parts of the female body only leads to pain.
Girls do not need to be cut to become women. Cutting girls does not ensure the girls will become good women and good wives.

Cutting girls only ensures that they will experience pain and suffering. Families must talk and guide young girls to prepare them for adulthood and marriage not cut them.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Every year 3 million young children are at risk of being cut. In order to protect them and ensure they remain healthy, happy and fertile, men and women must speak out. They must talk about how girl children are born beautiful and clean. They must explain that girl children are born in the form that was intended. They must talk about the importance of health and happiness for young women. They must talk about the danger of cutting away at the female body.

As Gambia joins 24 African countries that have outlawed female circumcision and genital mutilation, a further step in the right direction is made. Around the world more and more people are realising that to cut a girl is to harm a girl. The painful and dangerous practice of female circumcision belongs in the past. African men and women are unifying to end the cruel way female children are cut. In doing so a safer future is being built for young girls who will be able to blossom into strong women, loving wives and caring mothers.

AMY CLEAVES

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