Leave our girls alone. - The clitoris- an overview.

The Huffington Post last month posted a gutsy and relevant article titled 3D Clitoris model . As the titled implies, it discusses a part of female anatomy that is widely misunderstood, often not even known about and a part of our bodies that in some cultures is forcibly removed.  The non medical removal of this organ is called FGM (female genital mutilation) and is banned in most countries in the world, although it clearly is still done in many cultures, albeit it, underground. The medical removal of the clitoris is called a Clitoridectomy or clitorectomy and means the surgical removal, reduction, or partial removal of the clitoris for medical reasons. One such case is of a child who is born with both male and female sex organs. A decision will be reached by the parents as to whether the child is female or male. Often the clitoris is removed and the intersex child will be physically seen as male.

This article was written as a response to a 3D model that a French scientist has managed to create. It is to be used as part of Sex education in French schools. It is part of explaining female anatomy in a 3 dimensional way. Here is the article that explains this exciting new tool- https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.smh.com.au/lifestyle/news-and-views/news-features/this-3dprinted-clitoris-model-is-set-to-transform-sex-ed-classes-in-france-20160817-gqugs2.html?client=safari

Back home in South Africa in many training sessions, when we discuss the importance of knowing what each body part is named, we often have questions around this small intimate part of a woman's body. I looked up its definition and here it is-
The clitoris
(i/ˈklɪtərᵻs/ or
i/klᵻˈtɔərᵻs/) is a female sex organ present in mammals, ostriches and a limited number of other animals.

In humans, the clitoris lies near the front of the inner lips of the vagina, and above the opening of the urethra. So unlike men, we urinate though the urethra and the clitoris is seen as a seperate sexual organ. Men on the other hand urinate through the urethra that is part of the penis.

The clitoris is a complex structure, and its size and sensitivity can vary. The glans (head) of the human clitoris is roughly the size and shape of a pea, and is seen as -when stimulated during sexual activity - the main source of sexual pleasure for a woman. This stimulation results  in a orgasm.

The clitoris's sole function is for pleasure. Removal of the clitoris would eliminate the chance of having this type of orgasm. Depending on the degree of cutting, it is possible a woman would not experience any pleasure or orgasm during sex. In addition to lack of sensation or physical pain due to cutting, a person may experience distress or anxiety about having sex because of trauma or fear of pain.
As mentioned earlier, FGM is now considered illegal in most countries.The World Health Organization (WHO)  published that over 200 million girls have had a form of this cutting performed on them.
Although banned, it is still occurring in many countries. Africa has the greatest amount of FGM, as the World Health Organization believes that somewhere between "100 million and 140 millon women and girls about have undergone the surgery throughout the world, 92 million of them over the age of ten living in Africa.
Female Genital Mutilation has been outlawed in Britain, Canada, France, Norway, Sweeden, Switzerland, and the United States". See map below.

The procedure is often done in pubescent girls without the use of anesthesia or their consent. It is without doubt a brutal and very painful process.
The real question is why would anyone do this to a young girl?
Here are some answers based on what they believe:
•    "It can ensure virginity (maintain chastity before marriage)
•    It will curb(stop) her masturbating
•    It can ensure fidelity during marriage
•    It will increase male sexual pleasure
•    It can secure or enhance fertility
•    It can secure the economic and social (i.e. marital) future of daughters
•    It will prevent the clitoris from growing long like a penis
•    The female genitalia are considered both dirty and unsightly
•    It will keep the female clean, and more hygienic
•    It is an important ritual and part of the initiation of girls into womanhood
•    It is 'tradition' and part of one's cultural heritage
•    That it is a religious mandate -- although the practice predates both Christianity and Islam". Source - WHO

For me, as a mother of 2 daughters, working in the health arena, it is a very intrusive, painful and unnecessary procedure that is archaic and parents who allow this form of cutting to be performed on their young girls, should be jailed. And of course, any form of cutting and yes, let's call it what it is, mutilation will increase the girls chance of contracting HIV.
Leave our girls alone!

A Map showing the prevalence of FGM on the continent.