What is a tradition? According to the Oxford Dictionary, tradition is a belief, custom or way of doing something that has existed for a long time among a particular group of people. It is not a religious tenet.
Harmful traditional practices are forms of violence which have been committed, primarily against women and girls, in certain communities and societies for so long that they are considered, or presented by perpetrators, as part of accepted cultural practice.
One of these harmful traditional practices is female genital mutilation, also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, which is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as in Europe and North America within communities from countries in which female genital mutilation is common.
The practice has no health benefits for girls and women. In fact, female genital mutilation can cause severe bleeding; infections; painful periods; infertility; incontinence or problems urinating; fistula; cysts, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. Treatment of the health complications of female genital mutilation in 27 high prevalence countries is estimated to costs $1.4 billion USD per year.
It is time to stop paying lip service to this repugnant practice and take a concrete stand. It is time to demand our politicians take action. It is time for world leaders and politicians to make the reporting of female genital mutilation mandatory and to pass legislation making female genital mutilation a crime with mandatory penalties in line with child abuse and sexual assault penalties.
Dr. Edna Adan Ismail, who is a pioneer in the fight against female genital mutilation, and the founder of the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland, lists that part of its mission is to combat the harmful practice of female genital mutilation.