By: Katchie Nzama

I have learned of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) more in detail during my travels. I had never paid much attention to it until I learned that FGM is also practiced by the Venda people of South Africa. My people and I never knew this. I have never met anyone who has had it done or anyone who knows anyone who has had it done.
I do plan to talk to my grandmother when I get home and hopefully she will shed more light on this practice. For me personally I think it was a case of ignorance is bliss, I have never heard anyone talk about it until I started talking to the people in the different countries I have been visiting.

FGM is also known as Female Circumcision. There are different stages or phases of FGM. This can range from removal of the clitoris to the complete removal of the external female genitalia.

Female genital mutilation is classified into four major types.

  1. Partial or total removal of the clitoris.
  2. Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina).
  3. Narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
  4. All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

There are various reasons why the practice is performed on a woman.
The process is done with the reason to reduce a woman’s libido, so that she will not enjoy sex and therefore will not be promiscuous. I can only imagine a selfish man must have come up with this idea to humiliate women like this.

FGM is currently practised in 28 African countries and parts of Middle East and Asia.

The African countries include including Egypt, South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
Although practiced in Tanzania, I have spoken to a children’s rights lawyer in Zanzibar who confirmed that Zanzibar has zero cases of FGM.

There are no advantages or health benefits of female genital mutilation however the list of disadvantage is a lengthy one. These include

  • recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections;
  • cysts;
  • infertility;
  • an increased risk of childbirth complications

FGM is considered a human right violation. But I have learned that like me, most people don’t even know that this is happening out there and others who know feel that there is not much they can do except  not do it to their daughters. Some people believe that because this is an age old tradition, not much can be done about it. I am not saying get up and change the world, I am asking that you educate yourself. Read up a bit more in FGM, be aware of it and also share this information. I believe with more women being educated we can definitely help change this on our continent.

You can read more on FGM on World Health Organization website

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

Also more about Waris Dirie, a Somali woman who had undergone the procedure at the tender age of 5 years. She started an Organisation, The Desert Flower and has written a book with the same title.

http://www.desertflowerfoundation.org/en/what-is-fgm/

Read more articles by Katchie


Besides being a superhero, I also live in a perfect garden with the most gorgeous of fairies. A proud serial cuddler. forever in wanderlust. Editor and founder of www.travelmzantsi.com.

2 Comments

  1. Venda people don’t practise female genital mutilation. I don’t know where you get this information.

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    • I am sorry to inform you but, we do. Just because you don’t know about it you can’t say we don’t. Educate yourself, how do they treat “goni” ( the dark marks on the back of a child’s neck)? By scrapping parts of the mother’s labia minora and mixing it with dark powder and oils(note that there are no doctors available and it’s done within weeks after birth to prevent the child dying treatment is in the form of herbs for the mother and the bleeding is sometimes uncontrollable. The worse thing is what they do to the young girls as part of their transition from childhood to womanhood, that is flat out FGM cutting and sewing involved. I had to do an essay for archaeology on cultural practices I chose my own people and instantly regretted it. Just because you do not know about it, haven’t heard about it or seen it doesn’t mean it does not exist. Do your own research, some practices are not by open invitation it depends on how far you are willing to go to get answers. I will go to dark places to get what I want.

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