by Sung Ki-won, Dept. of Business Administration, Dongguk University
Do you know FGM? FGM stands for Female Genital Mutilation, which sometimes happens around the world because of traditions and regional beliefs. FGM is a custom in Africa and Middle East and a terrible ceremony that cuts women’s reproductive organs. In particular, FGM happens in African countries located in south of Sahara Desert. Shockingly, 98 percent of girls in so-called The Horn of Africa, for example, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, suffered from FGM. In fact, many of the women who suffered tended to put tape around their mouths because they did not want to look scared and they did not want be seen as weak people. What do you think of my explanation about FGM? Can you accept this shocking fact as OUR story, not ‘THEIR’ story? I think that this problem should be known to people all aronnd the world. I want to emphasize that this story should be problematic in Africa and Middle East and we should learn more about this tragic story through the news, the internet, and books. Imagine FGM happens in Korea, Japan, or China! I think that we might worry and accept it as our story. We have to change this inhuman and serious traditional custom. Do you know why did I say like this? Yes. I want you not to overlook and regard this story as just African’s unusual tradition. As we live in global village and community society, we should be interested in many issues: economic, social, and cultural history and customs. I want to bring attention to this tragic traditional custom ‘female circumcision’ or ‘FGM.’ I want many Dongguk students know about this issue and have a chance to think deeply about female circumcision. Although nowadays many people know about this issue, this bad custom continues at this moment. If you read my opinion and sympathize and get angry, my goal is achieved. From now on, we think about two things. First, what female circumcision is. Second, why is this tragic and problematic. Let’s begin.
Few days ago, I had a chance to watch an unusual movie called “Desert Flower.” The name of the flower is Waris Dirie, which flower represents her. She was born in the desert of Somali, Africa. She ran away from home to London because of forced marriage. Life was hard in London but eventually she became a successful fashion model. The movie was so memorable not because I was impressed by her dramatic success but because of her courage to rise from the wounds that I could not even imagine. She suffered through Female circumcision ? a surgical removal of woman’s outer genitals. She also suffered not only from physical pain due to circumcision but also from emotional crisis. According to World Health Organization(WHO) statistics, there are about three hundred million women who have had that surgery in Africa. Every eleven seconds, there is another victim of female circumcision. An outrageous tradition that is forced onto a woman as a symbol of purity was an issue that shouldn’t be overlooked. There are two main points that explain the reason why the female circumcision is a problem. First of all, a woman undergoes circumcision is carrying a huge physical suffering due to the unprofessional surgical procedure and hygiene. In Africa, female circumcision is usually done by the oldest person in tribe. They use a razor or a fragment of glass which is used several times without disinfection as surgery implement. Moreover, the place which is called the operating table is full of germs. What is the most frightening thing is that there is no anesthetic. This kind of process causes not only a serious mental shock but also acute physical damage. It causes unendurable pain in childbirth and sexual relations. In the statistics of UNICEF, around thirty percent of women who experienced circumcision died after it. Furthermore, many more become ill from diseases such as septicemia, irregular urine, infection in the organs of generation, depression and so on. As a result of female circumcision, a lot of women in the world are suffering for their whole lives and even dying.
Secondly, it is a restriction of the woman’s rights. The fundamental purpose of circumcision is to maintain the purity of a woman. Circumcision eliminates woman’s sexual desire and hence, permits sexual intercourse only to her husband. Because of this purpose, women are forced to take it. If woman does not take it, she is considered as an impure woman and even becomes gain priority of honor killing . Also it extremely undermines the dignity of a human being. In this ethnic society, woman has no right to reject this. Due to threat of ethnic groups, women become more vulnerable, and cannot have their rights or their own thinking, just following the external pressure. Women respected as human beings have the right to pursuit happiness and have healthy life without any kind of restrictions or pressures. Why do they have to endure the pain unquestioningly and why do they have to keep silent? A woman is not anyone’s belonging, except herself. Nowadays, many people are aware of the serious threats of female circumcision and there is a high level of criticism of it. But even now, many young girls and women in Africa are dying and suffering for life because of it. Some people say it is not a problem because it is a unique cultural identity which the world has to understand. However; if the culture issue is related to violation of universal values such as the dignity of human being, it is no longer culture. It is just an evil practice. In conclusion, female circumcision, which is practiced under so called “protection of cultural uniqueness within an ethnic society”, is an inhuman act that forces woman to endure a life threatening danger and destroys woman’s individual uniqueness and rights and thereby, it is a harmful tradition that should be banned. I want to add my voice to Waris’ courageous effort to raise more worldwide attention to female circumcision. As I mentioned, I want to introduce female circumcision to our school students and friends. There are two things I want to say. First of all, female circumcision should never be some other countries’ problem. This is our problem. Why? this problem is concerned with our human rights, identity, and dignity. If someone attacks you because you are woman, weak, and poor, could you restrain yourself? Of course, this question seems to simple, so you may not reply like this: It is very serious. I cannot restrain! As you know, I want you to accept this question is no more than a part of the serious and dangerous tradition. Second, some very common and simple words: Human rights should be respected and not be trampled on or overlooked by someone. We should respect all the people because they are human like us. Even though they are handicapped, weak, and poor, we are just social animals which can live in society or community. So, we should recognize that we can be also treated badly such as our school, our job, from our friends, and so on. Have you come to know female circumcision more precisely? I want you to understand through my opinion. Before I finish, I would like to ask you one last question: Why does she have to suffer?
Kim Kang-su firstname.lastname@example.org
<저작권자 © 동국포스트, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>