February 7, 2017
WOMEN ARE CIRCUMCISED IN WEST AFRICA, AND MANY WOMEN SAY IT WASN'T BAD
I had read that in some countries, particularly the Islamic ones, women are circumcised. It is done when the girl is very young. Though this practice has always been under criticism in “civilized” countries for various reasons, but still it is going on. If people are criticizing it for its brutality, there are also people, including women, speaking in its favour. They say it has many benefits.
I did not know that this was done in Liberia too where I had spent two years in 1982-84 on a teaching assignment at the University of Liberia. Though an African country with Christian majority, still Liberia was not that backward compared to many other nations. At that time (before the civil war) it was also not a poor country. That was the reason why people from several Asian countries were working there to earn money.
Women dancing in Monrovia in celebration
One day when I came from work, I saw ladies dancing and rejoicing in my neighborhood. I asked a neighbor what was that all about. He informed me that they had circumcised their girls and so they were celebrating it. I was new to Liberia at that time so was not very familiar with Liberian traditions and culture.
Genitals of a circumcised woman
Later when I talked to some colleagues who were not from Liberia and were in that country since long, I was told that the practice of circumcising existed in Liberia as well as in few other neighboring nations. The Liberians did not like to talk about it with foreigners unless someone was very close.
Dancing and rejoicing the occasion
I could make a lot of friends there during my two years’ stay. So many people did talk to me about it. To my great surprise, none of them spoke against it or said it was a barbaric practice as they say in other countries. Rather many of them said that it was useful the women could keep control on themselves. It was nearly a shock for me when a woman colleague spoke in its favour and told that she had three daughters and she had got all of them circumcised.