Sunday, 17 March 2013

Female Genital Mutilation and Mental Health


I know from the experience of close relations, that people may prefer to keep their abusive historys secret. They can often be ashamed and even fear being ridiculed if they share their experiences.  Sometimes people think it’s for the best but is it really? Bottling up things especially bad experiences has consequences and often leads to mental distress. Girls who go through FGM tend to be scarred for life mentally. A few do manage succeed in adult life but the majority are affected to the extent that they lose any confidence and self esteem they ever had.

Victims of Female Genital Mutilation have no peace of mind. They worry about being discovered and what would be said of them. Some are frightened of bonding in sexual relationships, simply because of the awkwardness of having to explain why they are different from other women. As a result these women suffer silently. They don’t find it easy to talk to anyone about it and fear they will be blamed for being weak.

What are the results of all this?

  • Women who are easy to control
  • Women who are emotionally weak
  • Women who can not look after themselves
  • Women who are resentful bitter and angry with the world

I spoke to a girl once from a community that practices FGM and when I raised the subject she brightened up and asked if I had gone through it myself. I told her I hadn’t and she shrank, informing me that she didn’t want to discuss it. I tried  later but she would not say anything. Had I been subjected to the same procedure, she would have found it easier to talk. As an ‘’outsider’’, she thought I would not understand. The truth is that the pain of being mutilated is unimaginable.

The mental burden is worse especially as some of the girls are married off immediately after going through FGM. They are burdened with forced maturity and carry that burden till death. Their mental stability is further challenged if the procedure results in obstetric fistula.

These vulnerable women and girls need our help and support. Let’s stamp our feet on FGM and end it.


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