Clitoridectomy, the surgical removal of the clitoris is one of the worst types of violence against women. This type of female genital mutilation performed by a midwife, a tribal practitioner, or a doctor typically without anesthesia is common in African societies in countries such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Sudan, Egypt, and especially in Ethiopia and Somalia.
The practice is known to exist in certain cultural groups in other nations around the world. Among members of these highly patriarchal societies, husbands demand that their wives be virgins at marriage and remain sexually faithful thereafter. The point of female genital mutilation is to eliminate sexual feeling, which, people assume, makes the girl less likely to violate sexual norms and thus be more desirable to men.
In about one-fifth of all cases, an even more severe procedure, called infibulation, is performed, in which the entire external genital area is removed and the surfaces are stitched together, leaving only a small hole for urination and menstruation. Before marriage, a husband retains the right to open the wound and ensure himself of his bride’s virginity.
Medically, the consequences of genital mutilation include more than the loss of sexual pleasure. Pain is intense and can persist for years. There is also danger of infection, infertility, and even death. Worldwide, estimates place the number at more than 100 million (World Health Organization, 2010).