• Reasons given for female circumcision include traditional requirements, religious cleansing, rites of passage, tribal or group identity, and loyalty.
• FGM is a violation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The majority of cases—75 percent—occur in Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria. Some cases were reported in Malaysia, Australia, South America, Europe, the Middle East and in U.S. immigrant populations. It was also practiced in Europe and the U.S. until the 1930s by some medical practitioners as a treatment for “hysteria.”
Margaret Obaga, women’s coordinator of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya, shared her story with The Lutheran:
I was circumcised at about 12, and I remember looking forward it. Among [the Kissi] people circumcision meant you could be married. Until then, you are considered a child.
Girls go through it as a group. All your female relatives are there. You’re also given mentors, older females who tell you about sex and your role in the community.
The next day you go to the river and dive in, for the cold has a numbing effect. Then you face the knife. In my day it was the same knife for all of us.
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