Public Health & Health Systems Reproductive Health Sexuality

The cruellest cut

Contrary to popular belief, female genital mutilation is taking place in South Africa. At the National Conference on Gender Based violence in November, Magistrate Tshifiwa Maumela of Mutale District in Limpopo Province said that the practice was no longer something that took place only north of our borders.

THANDEKA: Kuqikelelwa ukuba malunga nezigidi ezingama   -135 zamantombazana namakhosikazi kwihlabathi liphela nathi atyakatywe kwinyama zangaphantsi zabasethyini abanziwa (female genital mutilation). Malunga nezigidi ezibini zamantombazana athi abesemngciphekweni wokukutyakatywa kunje ingamawaka amathandathu ngemini agaxeleka kulengxaki. Oku kutyakatywa kwenyama zangaphantsi zamabhinqa kuxa kususwa ubini obu bobusisi. Umantyi   uTshifiwa Maumela uchaza eyona nto imkhokelele ekuphandeni locimbi.

Translation: According to Amnesty International about 135 million of girls and women worldwide have undergone female circumcision or female genital mutilation as others call it. About two million girls a year are at risk of mutilation, approximately 6 000 per day. Female genital mutilation is the term used to refer to the removal of part or all of the female genitalia. Magistrate Maumela explains why he did the study in South Africa.

MAGISTRATE MAUMELA: Female genital mutilation affects the right of women to their sexuality and to their independent decision-making around their bodies. It also goes to reduce them to the status of objects for purposes of sexual satisfaction of men and also they are reduced to mere reproductive implements.

Translation: Ukoluswa kwamahinqa kulwana nelungelo lokuzikhethela kwenkululeko yobuni neziqu zawo. Oku kuthi kunyhashe isidima nesithunzi sobufazi nalapho abafazi bajongelwa phantsi njengezinto zokudlalisa zamadoda.

THANDEKA:Ngaba ke bona abantwana abangamantombazana bayagagana nale ngxaki?

Translation: What about girl children do they also have such problems?

MAGISTRATE MAUMELA: They do because invariably you’€™ll find that what ever is sought to be effected on women is also invariably effected against girl children sometimes from a tender age.

THANDEKA: Uthi ukonzakaliswa kwamalungu angasese kubantu basetyhini kuyinto ebuhlungu nalapho ubini kusisi buye buqhawulwe okanye busikwe ngolunya. Esizobela ngeendidi nathi zintathu zokwenza lomkhuba.

Translation: Female genital mutilation is the most painful violation of human rights. Maumela   explains how the   procedure is conducted.  

MAGISTRATE MAUMELA: Genital mutilation comes in several forms there are three main forms; there’€™s what we call Sunna circumcision, which involves the cutting of the tip of the clitoris on the genitals of the woman. There’€™s also what is called clitoridectomy which would involve the cutting of clitoris and the labia minora of a woman. There’€™s also the third one which is called pharoanic circumcision that involves all of what I’€™ve stated before and the woman is again sewn up in order to prevent her from engaging in sex except with her husband.

Translation: Uthi kukuba ubuni obu bususwe ncam, okanye kuqhezulwe icwezu elithile okunye okuthi kwenziwe kukuvalwa ngomthungo usisi lo, kushiywe umngxunyana nje wokuba umntu achithe amanzi oku kwenziwa ngamadoda athi ahambe isidala emakhaya nathi avingce amasango khonukuze kungabikho ndoda yimbi izakudibana ngesondo nonkosikazi xa ingekhoyo yaye ke lomthungo uyakuqhaqhwa mhla yabuya apho ibiye khona indoda leyo. Ezi zezinye zezinto ezibuhlungu ezinziwa kumakhosikazi nabantwana abangamantombazana.

THANDEKA: Uthi nangona kucingeleka ukuba oku akwenzeki kwi Afrika esemaZantsi kodwa ngoku oku kuyaqhubeka kwindawo ezithile noMzantsi Afrika uyaqukeka koku.

Translation: This practice is now happening in the Southern African region and people are not aware of that fact.

MAGISTRATE MAUMELA: Whereas we are under an impression that this does not form part and parcel of cultures in Southern Africa, we have found that there are traces of the milder form of genital mutilation in Southern Africa, South Africa included by the way. And there has been information indicating that some other areas including Mapulaneng area in South Africa in the Limpopo Province are areas where this practice is found but invariably this is found in the entirety of Africa. It is found in Asia, it is found in some of the First World countries, Canada the UK, Australia and several others. It is because this procedure goes to benefit men so wherever you find men, you’€™re most likely to find it to varying degrees.

Translation: Uthi bafumanise ukuba ngoku lomkhuba uyafumaneka nakwi Afrika esemaZantsi yaye ikho nkqu apha eMzantsi Afrika kwiphondo laseMantla eLiMpopo kwindawo ekuthiwa kuseMapulaneng. Uthi ukanti lenkqubo iyenziwa nakumazwe ehlabathi afana neCanada, eLamaNgesi, iAustraila namanye nje. Uthi kodwa ke konke oku kwenzelwa nje ukonelisa iinkanuko zamadoda.

THANDEKA: Kanti yena umphathiswa wezeMpilo uGqirha Manto Tshabalala-Msimang uthi banesizathu esisiso nesenza ukuba kusetyenziswe igama elithi kukutyakatywa kwamamalungu angaphantsi ababhinqileyo (female genital mutilation). Esenzela umzekelo ngethuba esebenza njengogqirha ongumbelekisi xa wayelubhacweni eSomalia.

Translation: Health Minister, Dr. Manto Tshabalala ‘€“Msimang, says there is a good reason for the practice of circumcision to be called female genital mutilation. During her years as a gynae in Somalia she had first hand contact with the results of the practice.

DR.   MSIMANG: We cannot change the word ‘€œmutilation’€, because in its nature, it’€™s very humiliating. It’€™s dehumanizing, you know it’€™s not like equally the same as circumcision of young men. Circumcision carries with it a noble sometimes principle that they must always remain clean because what they really do is to remove the foreskin. And so, while it may be painful if it is not done properly but just imagine after you have had that foreskin removed, it’€™s very easy for you once again to engage in sex. No pain whatsoever. But mutilation is violence.

THANDEKA: Uthi le yintlungu yokunqunyulwa nokugecwa kobumi bobufazi, uthi ongekawaboni lamasikizi akufumelekanga awabone kuba ingcolile.

Translation: She says this is dehumanizing practice those who have not seen this practice yet should not wish to see it, as it is a grouse violation of human rights.

DR: MSIMANG: Maybe some of us don’€™t know actually what happens. It is really cutting and chopping, and cutting and chopping where it is absolutely sensitive where you’€™ve got the nexus of your nerves and you know if you injure a nerve how painful it is and that pain lasts with that woman forever, for the rest of her life. There’€™s lot of blood that get spilt, lots of bleeding that takes place. You get infection but it is a very, very painful exercise. I have seen women when I was still in exile particularly women from Somalia who had, had the mutilation. They used to tell me how painful it was to have sex but you know it just disfigures you. I have witnessed women, when they come to deliver; you know everybody in the ward is just running around because once again those scars they bleed again. Some of them they bleed to death. I cant’€™ find any other word for it, except that it is mutilation.

E-mail Thandeka Teyise

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