It has been a while since I last read Latirr Carr’s wonderful essays. Where is Latirr Carr and his red black nonsense? Please if Latirr is around let him continue. Red black nonsense is a very interesting and educative column which needs to continue coming out. I don’t know what happened to him. Maybe he is busy but he should find time to keep the column going. Everybody would agree with me that the society derives benefit from what Latirr is doing as one of the country’s finest writers. This is commendable and I just want to urge him to come back as soon as possible.
FGM ‘medicalisation’ is total madness
Please allow me to pass through your medium my opinion on the medicalisation of female genital cutting. It has come to light that some medical practitioners, especially the midwives and surgeons, are cashing in on the practice, which is, indeed, being fought left, right and centre by governments and human rights activists.
The latest revelation came last week when one of the country’s top anti-FGM campaigner said she was outraged by the fact that some health centres and registered medical personnel are carrying out the practice.
Dr Isatou Touray said: “It is absurd to discover that some health personnel are medicalising FGM in The Gambia. Gamcotrap has discovered that some healthcare providers circumcise girls in health facilities in the Greater Banjul Area. Some visit homes to circumcise girls. From all indications, the Gambian population is responding to the call to end FGM. It will be counterproductive, while communities are ending FGM personnel of health institutions that should take the lead to advice on the health effects of FGM are engaged in using health facilities to practise it.” It is imperative for me to point out here that these learned medical personnel are infringing their ethical practices.
In fact the World Health Organisation and other human rights activists have consistently condemned the ‘medicalisation’ of FGM for girls, young women and even babies in many parts of the world. The WHO, in particular, sees the practice as unnecessary as it is likely to carry serious, potentially dangerous complications. The organisation has often railed at the nefarious ritual, which is mostly prevalent in rural areas of The Gambia. Although the government has expressed some level of commitment in the crusade against FGM there are pockets of resistance in many of our communities. Some elders especially those who shape public opinion in most villages are diehards who have refused to see sense. The elders cling to the argument that FGM curbs sexual desires in young girls so that they won’t engage in premarital sex. They also say that the ritual is a passage from girlhood to womanhood.
However, whatever the motive for FGM, I want to say that the practice is unnecessary and is highly dangerous to health. We all know that FGM involves the removal of the clitoris by cutting with a sharp blade across the high pressure clitoral artery. This procedure is likely to cause life-threatening haemorrgage if carried out without competent surgical control. Infection can also be contracted due to the application of traditional herbs such as crushed tree leaves or roots often used for healing the wound. In our urban centres especially in the Greater Banjul Area, affluent families prefer eliciting the services of health personnel such as midwives and doctors. This is the disturbing aspect that has prompted the current argument by anti-FGM campaigners. In rural Gambia, FGM may not cross many minds as a public health hazard that warrants condemnation as it bears nasty physical, sexual and psychological consequences. I think it is high time that we all started the conversation to ending FGM.