02 June 2012

Description of Female Circumcision

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, 2007, Excerpts

“Once this long kintir is removed you and your sister will be pure.” From my Grandma’s words and gestures I gatherer that this hideous kintir, my clitoris, would one day grow so long that it would swing sideways between my legs. She caught hold of me and gripped my upper body. Two other women held my legs apart. The man, who was probably an itinerant traditional circumciser from the blacksmith clan, picked up a pair of scissors. With the other hand, he caught hold of the place between my legs and started tweaking it, like Grandma milking a goat. “there it is, there is the kintir,” one of the woman said.

Then the scissors went down between my legs and the man cut off my inner labia and clitoris. I heard it, like a butcher snipping the fat off a piece of meat. A piercing pain shot up between my legs, indescribable, and I howled. Then came the sewing: the long, blunt needle clumsily pushed into my bleeding outer labia, my loud and anguished protests, Grandma’s words of comfort and encouragement. “It’s just this once in your life, Ayaan. Be brave, he’s almost finished.” When the sewing was finished, the man cut the thread off with his teeth.

That is all I can recall of it. I must have fallen asleep, for it wasn’t until much later that day that I realized that my legs had been tied together, to prevent them from moving to facilitate the formation of a scar. It was dark and my bladder was bursting, but it hurt too much to pee. The sharp pain was still there, and my legs were covered in blood. I was sweating and shivering. It wasn’t until the next day that my Grandma could persuade me to pee even a little. By then everything hurt. When I just lay still the pain throbbed miserably, but when I urinated the flash of pain was as sharp as when I had been cut.

After a week the man came and inspected us. The man returned to remove the thread he had used to sew me shut. This was again very painful. He used a pair of tweezers to dig out the threads, tugging on them sharply. Again, Grandma and two other women held me down. But after that, even though I had a thick bumpy scar between my legs that hurt if I moved too much, at least my legs didn't have to be tied together anymore, and I no longer had to lie down without moving all day.

In Somalia, like many countries across Africa and the Middle East, little girls are made “pure” by having their genitals cut out. There is no other way to describe this procedure, which typically occurs around the age of five. After the child’s clitoris and labia are carved out, scraped off, or, in more compassionate areas, merely cut of pricked, the whole area is often sewn up, so that a thick band of tissue forms a chastity belt made of the girl’s own flesh. A small hole is carefully situated to permit a thin flow of pee. Only great force can tear the scar tissue wider, for sex.

Female genital mutilation predates Islam. Not all Muslims do this, and a few of the peoples who do are not Islamic. But in Somalia, where virtually every girl is excised, the practice is always justified in the name of Islam. Uncircumcised girls will be possessed by devils, fall into vice and perdition, and become whores. Imans never discourage the practice: it keeps girls pure.

HRW presses Iraqi Kurds to ban female circumcision
16 Jun 2010
Human Rights Watch has called on authorities in the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan to ban the practice of female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM). A report issued by the group on Wednesday said the practice was widespread in Iraqi Kurdistan, and was having a harmful effect on the physical and emotional health of many women. It has no particular origins in Islam, although some clerics in Kurdistan have welcomed it because they believe it stifles sexual urges in young girls and women.

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