Female genital mutilation is an all too common issue in parts of Africa, Middle East, and Asia. Within the Somali community, almost all Somali women have experience with FGM because the practice reflects a sinister reality with the culture. FGM embodies the misogynistic distrust of women and their humanity rooted in Somali culture. Instead of acknowledging their humanity, women are reduced to their reproductive and marriage capabilities. The goal, ultimately, is to ensure girls remain "pure" until their parents' arrange a marriage for them.
Consequently these girls have no choice in a major decision being made about their body. Instead, the choice is made for them by community or family members. This is because body autonomy isn't considered one's own choice, but rather a family's choice based on their reputation.'s betterment. A family's reputation and their community's standing is then more important than anything else. The collective is valued more than the individual in both Somali and other cultures, but these sexist rules are coming to an end.
In the last few years, data has shown FGM's rates decreasing significantly. This is an indication of a general cultural shift and better education for hard-to-reach communities. More importantly, it's becoming less and less common with younger generations as marriage and children are less emphasized. Women are finally being valued as individuals who possess vast abilities that surpass their biology. Moreover, women are valuing themselves as flawed beings separate from the wishes of their families.
FGM survivors have taken back their autonomy through advocacy and education. From Somalia to Nigeria, let's begin exploring FGM narratives around the world.