Female Genital Mutilation: Its Physical-Social Effects on Individuals and Reasons for Its Persistence among Communities

John Kimathi Nkanatha

Abstract Over the years, women have experienced discrimination in many parts of the world. Besides being regarded as the weaker sex, women have endured workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and even domestic violence. Among some communities, wife battering which is perpetrated by their husbands is considered to be an art. Other discriminatory practices include pornification of women in advertisements, victim-blaming, where women rape victims are accused of dressing provocatively, and general marginalization and misogynistic practices. Other undesirable practices include forced marriages and child marriages where underage girls are married off to old men who pay bride price. When bride price is viewed from this angle, it acquires a different significance as it commercializes women and the marriage institution. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is another practice that demeans and dehumanizes women depending on the reasons advanced for its practice. FGM is one of the major human violations meted against women. This paper looks at female genital mutilation (FGM) and attempts to outline some of the reasons for the persistence of the practice in many parts of the world despite concerted efforts to eradicate the practice. Although the practice is criminalized in many countries, the perpetrators receive low sentences for the crime thus failing to act as a deterrent. This paper is significant in that it gives an insight into the socio-cultural justification and hence perpetuation of FGM.

Keywords: Female Genital Mutilation, women’s rights, human rights, cultural practices, Alternative rite of passage

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