PRACTICES THAT ARE DETRIMENTAL TO WOMEN’S HEALTH

We have all heard of FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and the efforts that are being made to stop this practice that is so detrimental to women’s health. Here is another detrimental practice that most people have never heard about.

Do you know about FINGER MUTILATION?

One of my photographic trips took me to Papua, Indonesia. I arrived by plane to the airport at Wamena. This is the home of the Dani tribe. Their villages reside amidst the Cyclops Mountains where an estimated 250,000 Dani tribes people live. The practice of finger mutilation is one in which a digit of the woman’s finger is cut off. It is specific to the women of the Dani tribe. The practice is derived from religious belief and is said to be symbolic of the pain suffered after losing a loved one.

Before cutting, a string is tied tightly around the upper half of the finger for 30 minutes, allowing it to go numb for a (near) painless removal. Often it is a close family member—sibling or parent—who cuts the finger. After removal, the open sores are cauterized, both to prevent bleeding and in order to form new-callused fingertips.

The practice has grown increasingly outdated over the years, and was officially banned. Today it is typically the older women who carry the burden of mutilated fingertips. However, cultural practices are not always easily abandoned.

I am in wonderment at the strength and endurance of the women of the Dani tribe. Not only have they lived with this mutilating cultural practice, but their present living conditions are harsh and challenging.

All practices that mutilate women and girls are a detriment to their physical and psychological health. This violation of human rights needs to stop.

Visit Our Sister’s Keeper at www.oursisterskeeper.org

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