At Intrepid our aim is to support and respect the protection of what are internationally proclaimed as human rights issues, and we want to make sure that we are not complicit in human rights abuses, within our sphere of influence. An Intrepid traveller recently questioned our decision to visit a Masai village in Kenya, where they still perform the abhorrent practice of female genital cutting or mutilation (FGM). This raises a very important issue that we want to share with you all.
We know that the practice still occurs all too frequently in several popular tourist destinations – parts of Africa, the Middle East and some communities in Asia and Latin America. Rather than boycotts, which can add to poverty and isolation, we hope that we may better help through education, awareness raising and supporting organisations that are working effectively to campaign against this barbaric practice.
Our friends at Amnesty International have shared with us the following information: The World Health Organisation estimates that 100-140 million women and girls have been subjected to FGM. Three million more girls and women worldwide each year. That’s 8000 girls per day.
There are many degrees of FGM, but in all cases it entails the cutting, stitching or removal of part or all of the female external genital organs for non-therapeutic reasons. The mutilation of healthy body parts severely affects the health and well-being of women and girls, who can suffer extreme pain, excessive bleeding, septic shock, infections, difficulty in passing urine, and even death. Long-term consequences include chronic pain, pelvic infections, cysts, abscesses, excessive scar tissue formation, infected reproductive systems and painful intercourse. Psychological impacts include fear of intercourse, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and memory loss.
All of this is bad enough, but Amnesty International and other organisations also have found that FGM is hampering the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Most obviously, the goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women cannot be achieved when the physical and psychological effects of FGM prevent women and girls from attending school, keeping paid employment and participating in social and political life. The goal of reducing child mortality also is at odds with the practice of FGM on infants and young girls – in Africa, for example, 1-2 per cent of babies die due to FGM.
Because FGM causes obstructed labour and an increased risk of caesarean sections, it also is hampering the goal to reduce the numbers of women dying in childbirth. Additionally, when women haemorrhage because of these problems and need blood transfusions, they are at higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. FGM further hampers the goal to combat HIV/AIDS because the procedure often is carried out on number of girls at one time, without disinfecting the knife or razor in between each procedure. Women who have been subjected to FGM also have an increased risk of vaginal tearing during intercourse, making them vulnerable to infection.
Intrepid Travel and The Intrepid Foundation are long-term supporters of Amnesty International. To help contribute positively to the communities we visit, we urge you to join us and go to www.endfgm.eu to help end the practice of FGM.
The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
Help support Amnesty International and many other great grassroots organisations via the Intrepid Foundation, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!
* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 per donor and a total of AU$300,000 each financial year.
* photo by Marc Ehrenbold – Intrepid Photography Competition