Why go along with FGM when it is known to be harmful?Why go along with FGM when it is known to be harmful?
Those who favour the practice of excision/female genital mutilation often deny its harmful consequences or are stubborn enough to find a way around eventual problems. Indeed, many followers of these practices rationalize their positive at­titude by the fact that they have never experienced or seen any of the presumed inconveniences of female genital mutilation. Moreover, some individuals, city na­tives with higher education, even assert that a good alternative to eradicate these practices would be the promotion of ‘sunna-circumcision’ against other types of female genital mutilation, and the use of modern health facilities. For many of them, they are not mutilating or denying human rights, they are following a cul­tural tradition, while willing to modify it to avoid hurting their children whom they love and want to see well integrated in the society. Among the bolokoli-kelaw included in our study sample, two who are also midwives claim that they only cir­cumcise girls who are their own or their friends’ relatives. Their services are free, and are meant to prevent these girls from being submitted to a full clitoridectomy or to some malpractices, if they were taken to traditional practitioners. One of these midwives asserted that she is against these practices, and she always tries to convince the parents not to do it, before offering her help. Another practitioner, who is aware of the hazardous nature of the profession, confessed that she is only doing it under the threat of her mother who handed the practice to her, and would curse and reject her if she gives it up. Similarly, many traditional practitioners, made aware and convinced by NGO agents to ‘let down their knives’ and start a new occupation, may resume their practice under social pressures (CNRST 1991). These dissonances in individual behaviours may simply be summed up into ‘it is

Why go along with FGM when it is known to be harmful?Why go along with FGM when it is known to be harmful?Arnfred Page 176 Wednesday, March 3, 2004 2:38 PM

Assitan Diallo

hard to say no’ to the rule of norms in Malian society. Furthermore, the price of refusing or confronting the will of the elderly is often perceived as more destruc­tive than putting one’s children through female genital mutilation. That is why many surveys have shown that conformity to tradition is currently the number one justification of this practice.

From the above information you would think that the bottom line of this so­cial system is the mutilation of girls and adult women. So, why bother assisting women with the means of enjoying their sexual life?