Segments in this Video

Female Circumcision in Africa (03:02)


Across the continent, girls are prepared for marriage in brutal ways. In Egypt, 97% of women between 7 and 49 have been circumcised. Reasons involve virginity, chastity, purity, marriageability and fidelity. This film will report from Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Culture of Female Circumcision (05:46)

Women in an Ethiopian village explain that girls who are not circumcised cannot be trusted. They used to sew their genitals, but now only cut off the clitoris; women perform female circumcisions for income. Outreach worker Ayanleh Hadi says the custom is deeply rooted in tradition.

Witnessing Female Circumcision (03:44)

A mother brings her young daughter to get circumcised. Watch as women restrain the girl; the procedure is performed with an unsterilized razor blade and without anesthetic. Circumcision can cause hemorrhaging, infection, and shock; it can also transmit HIV and Hepatitis B.

Female Circumcision in Rural Egypt (02:49)

Infibulation is most common in Djibouti and Eastern Ethiopia. In Egypt, village midwives perform clitoridectomies with anesthetic. FGM is illegal but tradition considers women unclean if they refuse.

FGM Types (02:29)

View an illustration of types I, II, and III female genital mutilation. Using a cloth, a birth attendant and circumciser demonstrates the process of sewing the vagina shut for infibulation—experienced by 90% of girls in Ethiopia's Harar region.

Islam's View on Female Circumcision (05:05)

In Burkina Faso, a groom plays football and waits for his bride. In Harar, an imam explains that female circumcision predates Islam in Arab culture. The Koran stipulates only part of the clitoris should be cut; the Hadith, concerning female circumcision, are considered weak.

Interpreting the Hadith on Female Circumcision (02:55)

Imams in Djibouti debate whether FGM is legal in Islam, according to religious texts, and whether it is harmful to women.

Wedding Night Suffering (03:45)

Afari girls marry their cousins and are infibulated in infancy. Zahara is confined until her husband penetrates her; another woman describes the pain of vaginal opening. Sometimes circumcisers will open the wound with a knife. Women are re-infibulated after childbirth.

Efforts to Abolish FGM (02:50)

Djibouti MP and NGO director Madame Degmo Mohamed Issack explains that people listen to religious leaders, rather than governments. Christians also practice female circumcision; Cairo priest Bolous Sorour calls on all religious leaders to discourage the custom.

Raising Awareness about Female Circumcision (03:58)

FGM is illegal in many countries. A sensitization program uses films to start conversations about the taboo subject in Burkina Faso. Egypt's National Council for Childhood and Motherhood launched a campaign to promote awareness; doctors, psychologists, and social workers run a helpline for children.

Medicalization of FGM (01:59)

In Egypt, doctors carry out illegal female circumcision procedures for financial gain. Professor Gamal Serour argues that this is unethical and violates human rights.

Reversing Infibulation (03:52)

Burkina Faso First Lady Madame Chantal Compaore founded a clinic offering free restorative surgery to women with type III FGM. View a procedure opening the vagina to a normal size. Immigrant families in Western countries will send girls home to get circumcised.

Female Circumcision in the West (03:15)

Naana Otoo-Oyortey discusses FGM practices among immigrant communities in the U.K. Men and women support the practice; in many societies uncircumcised women are rejected from marriage. One woman argues that women should be allowed sexual pleasure for family harmony.

Credits: The Cutting Tradition (01:32)

Credits: The Cutting Tradition

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The Cutting Tradition

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An award-winning and moving film narrated by actress Meryl Streep, which at times is hard to watch and even harder to listen to. It’s an up-close and personal look at the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). An estimated 140 million women and girls have undergone some form of FGM. Its justification is that it is an important initiation, which reinforces virginity, chastity, purity, marriage ability and fidelity. FGM is a harmful and brutal practice—it is associated with long-term physical and psychological morbidity of girls and women who are subjected to it. FGM is not just a cultural norm in parts of the developing world, but is also, sadly, occurring among some practicing communities in the West. Many of the girls travel from their homes in Europe, North America and Australia back to their parents’ homeland to undergo the practice.

Length: 48 minutes

Item#: BVL144789

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

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