Sometimes, counting our blessings pays better than moping in the corner and counting our scarcity.
Take a woman’s status in the Philippines. In our country, women not only command respect but also compete with men on equal footing in almost all fields of endeavor. Many companies, banks and government institutions have women on top of the corporate hierarchy calling the shots.
In my house, we have four women. My wife, two daughters and the house-help. Before you ask the question, I’m going to categorically admit it. Yes, they’re the ones calling the shots in the house. Now, are you happy?
But that’s not the theme of this article. Rather, it’s about my being glad that my daughters were born and raised in this country.
In other countries, for reason of culture, religion or a combination of both, women not only exist with an inferior social status but also become the subject of all sorts of rituals and practices.
Take female circumcision. Amnesty International estimates that over 130 million women worldwide have been subjected to some form of circumcision. It also estimates that over two million procedures are being performed every year.
The West looks at the practice and calls it Female Genitalia Mutilation (FGC), a literal terminology akin to “calling spade a spade”. Groups that support the practice would rather call it by its milder, if euphemistic, term, Female Circumcision.
Advocates of Female Circumcision cite four most common justifications for the practice. Here are the justification as listed in Wikepedia:
- “Rite of Passage” from childhood to adulthood;
- A desire to control women’s sexuality, morality and marriageability;
- Religion, tradition and culture;
- Social conformity.
There are several types of female genitalia circumcision, ranging from cutting the foreskin of the clitoris to cutting it off completely.
The most severe type, however, is called infibulation. Advocates claim it dates back to the days of the pharaohs.
Let me quote directly from Wikepedia for a description of the procedure. (Don’t drink or eat while reading this, as you may find the description gross enough to make you retch.)
Infibulation involves extensive tissue removal of the external genitalia, including all of the labia minora and the inside of the labia majora, leaving a raw open wound. The labia majora are then held together using thorns or stitching and the girl’s legs are tied together for two - six weeks, to prevent her from moving and allow the healing of the two sides of the vulva. Nothing remains of the normal anatomy of the genitalia, except for a wall of flesh from the pubis down to the anus, with the exception of a pencil-size opening at the inferior portion of the vulva to allow urine and menstrual blood to pass through.
The circumcision is performed without anesthetic on girls as young as two years old. Some don’t survive the procedure.
The girl’s ordeal doesn’t end with the circumcision. When she gets married, her husband will perform reverse infibulation on her on their honeymoon night. That means, with the use of a sharp knife, the husband opens his wife’s sewed up genitalia, so he can have sexual intercourse with her.
When she gets pregnant, the girl gets weekly visits from a female village elderly, who opens her genitalia little by little until the day she delivers the child. If at childbirth the opening is not large enough to allow vaginal delivery, she undergoes another infibulation to enlarge the opening.
Fortunately, some countries have outlawed the practice. According to Yahoo! News, on Thursday finally banned all female circumcision, the widely-practised removal of the clitoris which just days ago cost the life of a 12-year-old girl.”
Aren’t you glad you live in the Philippines?
My daughters are.
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