Essay Female Circumcision

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It's the year 423 BCE, and the orders have just been sent out -- Every female is to be circumcised. Rumor has it that the newest Pharaoh is not very well-endowed and wants the females in his land to be circumcised to enhance his sexual pleasure (qtd. in Gruenbaum 43).

Although such an account seems amusing, female circumcision and its effects are real. It is thought that female circumcision has been around for at least twenty centuries (Gruenbaum 193). Despite its age, female circumcision is only recently being discussed and debated in the United States. In fact, the matter itself had not really been looked at nationally until 1975, "when the Australian delegation at the first U.N. conference on woman in Mexico City proposed a motion
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"It's not a secret; we celebrate it!" said a Sudanese woman (qtd. Gruenbaum 15). This seems odd and cruel to us, for we are not accustomed to their ways. Female circumcision is carried out in 28 African countries, from Mauritania and the Ivory Coast in the west to Egypt, Somalia and Tanzania in the east, and a few ethnic groups in Asia (Abusharaf). It's estimated that more than 137 million women and girls have undergone the surgery and that another estimated 2 million will undergo it each year (Bosch 1177).

There are different types of female circumcision, depending on the culture and the country. They range from mild pricks, piercings or stretching of the clitoris and/or the labia to the total removal of all female genitalia. The two most common forms are known as type II, "excision," or type III, "infibulation." Excision is the total or partial removal of the prepuce, the clitoris and/or the labia minora. "Infibluation is the total amputation of all of the external genitalia together with the stitching together of the remainder of the labia majora…" ("Female Genital Mutilation"). There is, however, a small opening left for urination and menstruation. This is held open by a single piece of straw which is left there during the healing process (Gruenbaum 15). In Somalia, the girls' legs are often tied together to aid in the healing process (Walker 19). Simple things like urination are forever altered.
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