Female Genital Mutilation

Today is Day 15 of the Afro bloggers challenge. The topic today is ‘write about an issue that is close to your heart.’ What issue am I going to talk about? You guessed right ; Female Genital Mutilation. I will also refer to it as FGM.

So many people are not ready for this topic but hey I’m writing this for myself, for the daughters that will come from me and their daughters daughters. I’m writing this for the woman in my community, the one who doesn’t have a voice. I’m writing this for the women who were there before me too. The ones who didn’t have a voice or a platform to air their views so they can be heard. I’m writing this for that young girl who is being eyed by the women around her who are ready to prey on her genitalia with razors, scissors and concoctions. I hope that I’m writing this for you too.

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed but there’s no medical reason for this to be done (Source).

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure performed on a woman or girl to alter or injure her genitalia for non-medical reasons (Source).

According to the World Health Organization, more than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM annually. On average girls are subjected to FGM between birth and age 15 (Source). The WHO also says the practice is a violation of human rights.

Types of Female Genital Mutilation

There are several types of Female Genital Mutilation. According to Medical News Today, FGM falls in four categories :

  • Type 1: Clitoridectomy – In this practice, the clitoris is partially or completely removed
  • Type 2: Excision – The clitoris and labia minora are partially or completely removed
  • Type 3 – Infibulation – The vaginal opening is narrowed, and a covering seal is created
  • Type 4 – All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes. This also includes labia elongation

Personally, I have been in discussions with various people about FGM. Let’s just say there is a lot of work to be done. So many people are not willing to think of changing their ways and even become aggressive and reach the extent of belittling you and your family for not practicing FGM.

Girls and women are told the following when they question the act:

  • You will never get married
  • Your husband will leave you for a ‘full’ woman
  • You will not be worthy to be called a woman if you do not do it
  • You are spoilt for refusing to do it
  • You are unruly for denying wisdom from your elders
  • Your mother should be ashamed of herself for not guiding you in the right path


The effects are :

  • constant pain
  • pain and difficulty having sex
  • repeated infections, which can lead to infertility
  • bleeding, cysts and abscesses
  • problems peeing or holding pee in
  • Depression, flashbacks and self-harm
  • problems during labour and childbirth, which can be life threatening for mother and baby (Source)

I am glad there are notable African women who are speaking up for the girl child and women. Celebrities like Adesua Etomi Wellington who has been openly sharing on her social media pages about it.


This table that I am about to shake is far from ready to be shaken.

Zambian women go through type 4 of female genital mutilation – labia elongation. Labia elongation is the practice of making the labia minora longer by means of pulling using mixtures of various kinds or by means of equipment.

In Zambia, the fight against FGM hasn’t even began yet. It is a practice that has been swept under the rug for generations. People that speak up are silenced and rebuked. Little girls are still instructed to alter their Vaginas using concoctions.

Because this topic is only talked about in secret, I feel the best way to bring about a change of mind in Zambia is to offer a bargain. First of all, it is sad that as women, we have to reach the extent of offering bargains with what we can or cannot do to our own bodies. Mind you, it’s 2020. Let that sink in. But I know my Zambian people and their beliefs with this act.

Like I was saying, the best way to start this movement is by offering a bargain. The bargain would be for the community to leave our young girls alone. Don’t sexualise them. Let them grow up, become adults and let them make their own decision as to whether they want to elongate their labia or remain as God made them. I believe this would be a good start to the movement. Otherwise, people would silence the movement before it is established if the first thing they were told is “Stop female genital mutilation”

Both men and women are staunch supporters of the act in Zambia. There are no two ways about it. Every woman must have elongated labia or suffer shame.

Ladies, normalize asking men questions about FGM. This is one of my talking stage topics. I don’t play. If you as a man want me to alter my body then you’ll do the same to our daughter (I don’t date for fun. I’m intentional with dating. If we date, it’s because I see a possible future with you. So of course I am going to think of our daughter). You will be surprised at some your crush’s answers.

My thing with labia elongation is :

  • Let it be a choice

In late 2018 or 2019, I pierced my ears for the first time. I was excited. It is something that I wanted to do for myself. I made the decision. Wouldn’t it be nice if we, as women, were given that same power over our genitalia?

A few weeks ago, a bride to be wrote in to one of Zambia’s popular Facebook pages. She said that her aunt was fondling with her genitalia everyday because she had not elongated her labia. Her aunt said she was going to make sure she does the act or else bad things would follow her into her marriage. She was complaining bitterly and questioning why she was being punished all because she decided to get married. She said she tried telling her mother to help her but she too said there was nothing she could do. I’ll just stop here.

  • Do not sexualise young girls

Let children be just that, children. Stop sexualising our young girls.

  • Not everyone wants to do it

There are staunch female FGM supporters. The ones that make you feel less of a woman for not doing it.

I’ve seen girls cry because their grandmothers had given them a weird paste to use to elongate their labia and the said grandmothers used force and threats.

If you have altered your genitalia by means of labia elongation and you are happy and satisfied, I am not attacking you. If it is working for you, that’s great. Don’t make women feel less of who they are because they have refused to change their bodies.

How Can You Help As A Man

I honestly hope you’re reading this thinking about what you can do to help as a man. Don’t leave this fight to women only.

You have a big role to play as a man. This practice has been going on because of you. Women alter their bodies in hopes to do everything in their power to please you, to keep you to themselves, to keep you from cheating, to encourage you to marry them etc. At the end of the day, Africa is a man’s world.

I have had this conversation with men before. Some are for it, some aren’t. It’s fifty fifty.

Some say they would never be with a woman who hasn’t altered her genitalia in one way or another. Others detest the act and say it is a huge turn off.

As men, you have even greater power to help end all forms of FGM. Please realise this soon.

So, what can you do to help us?

  • Protect the women in your life

Be your sister’s keeper,your wife’s keeper, your daughter’s keeper, your neighbours keeper, etc. Be every woman’s keeper.

  • Be open to change, to new ways of life

Do not be resistant to change. That’s it. That’s the point.

  • Do not be brainwashed

So your uncle told you what to expect of a woman’s genitalia and you want to follow his instructions (I am not saying don’t respect your elders. That’s not what I stand for). Develop your own theories. Look at things from a different perspective. Ask questions. Google. Do something.

  • Realise your privilege

I am pretty sure you have been following the Black Lives Matter movement. There are thousands of white people who have joined the movement. Most of them have come out to talk about their privilege. They are emphasing that is wrong to have such inequality. All because of something inconsequential – skin. I saw one photo of protesters that stood out to me. It was a photo of white protesters standing in front of black protestors as the police arrived. That spoke volume to me. “We realise our privilege and we are going to use it to protect you while we fight for change together” is the message I got from that. Do you get where I am going with this?

Use your privilege to bring change. Pump sense into your friends, rebuke your relatives when they want to torture your new bride, speak up when your sister is scheduled for FGM appointments, speak up when your daughter is scheduled to go through it etc. Talk about it. Help us. We need you.

  • Respect your significant other and her decisions

Don’t be that guy. The one who reports your new bride to her family and yours telling them her genitalia is not altered and demands she she is taken away and brought to you when she is a full woman (this does happen. Like for real for real. Men do this). Lord some of your sons😭

If you really love her, you wouldn’t want her to do something she wasn’t comfortable with. Right?

In conclusion, give back the power to each woman. The power that was stripped away from her to chose what to do with her body.

This post was emotional for me. In as much as I wrote this for myself and other women, the whole time I was writing this, I was thinking of the little girl God might bless me with in the future. It would shatter my soul to see her go through this. That’s how most mother’s might feel as they watch their daughters go through this. They might take them freely or surrender them to the women in the community but when you think about it, they have been overpowered. They can’t do anything about it. Not anymore. You know why? Because we are going to do better. We must!

Liked this post? Read my short story on FGM here.

71 thoughts on “Female Genital Mutilation

  1. Try to explain FGM and MGM (removal of glans) to the Intergalatic Space Committee … But let’s not be cynical here. FGM/MGM, including labia elongation is a (medically) needless procedure which is based on confirmation bias which has deep cultural and religious roots (both are biases).

    It is falsely said that FGM makes women more loyal/faithful (in bed) to us men which is complete bullshit and it comes from the same bias. Emotional bonding, emotional safety and awesome sex makes a woman loyal to us men. You said “let it be a choice”: A choice between a painful and a painless sex-life, between enjoying Cunnilingus and not enjoying it with your man? Which side would you choose?

    PS: I’m not a feminist (because I want to be taken seriously by women), but my pullover is more “feministic” than any other feminists think they are as it reads: #SayNoToFGM #StopFGM and #StopMGM.

    Liked by 1 person

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