Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
These days many westerners are making a great deal of fuss over the old practice of routinely performing unneccessary circumcisions on boys, a practice which has by no means died out. However, African and some Near Eastern women have long had to contend with a much more traumatic operation known as "female genital circumcision," an operation which is usually performed under unsanitary conditions without anesthesia upon girls as young as seven. In addition to the other aftereffects of this mutilation, such as infection, the operation damages or even removes altogether the portions of the female anatomy which enable women to enjoy sexual intercourse normally. The intent is to make procreation a necessary but unpleasant duty which wives and concubines, viewed as possessions, will reluctantly perform, and then only for those in authority over them. Social pressures to create "nice" women in this way are very powerful, and it is not only the men of the culture who work hard to enforce it: frequently the impetus for the operation comes from the (previously mutilated) women of the family. This documentary of the practice and its effects is made by a woman who was herself mutilated in this fashion, and it created a wave of largely futile outrage among western women at the time it was released.