Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Female Genital Mutilation: A Horrific Practice

 

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a horrific procedure done on very young girls in the Middle East and Africa. Unfortunately, we know that the procedure has also found its way to the US; I wrote about a case from April 2017 that is still in process.

In May 2018 a debate was held with three highly credible people engaged in this issue: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has formed a foundation to deal with this issue; M. Zuhdi Jasser, a well-known medical doctor, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and moderate Muslim practitioner; and Alan Dershowitz, civil rights attorney, who worked for a period with a group in Michigan that wanted to find a way to normalize a version of female genital mutilation. It was a fascinating debate (more of a discussion) that shines a light on why all of us should be concerned with this issue in this country. (It’s not available on video at this time.)

This post highlights some of the points from the discussion that I thought were noteworthy.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali described the various types of FGM. The tragedy of this procedure is that it is done to small girls who don’t understand that their genitals will be mutilated, causing them misery for the rest of their lives. Due to the interest in receiving the procedure for their daughters, doctors in Europe are consenting to do the procedures in hospitals. According to the World Health Organization, 200 million women alive today in 30 countries have been cut. Young girls are told that they are impure, even filthy, if they don’t have the procedure. The psychological trauma cannot be measured. Although suggestions for modifying and simplifying the procedure have been offered, Hirsi Ali promotes “zero tolerance”; she was forced to have the procedure as a child. Hirsi Ali explained that she was no longer a Muslim; she said she could no longer perform the “cognitive aerobatics” that it would require.

When Alan Dershowitz spoke, he explained that he was consulted by a Muslim organization in Michigan about how the procedure could be continued lawfully; he suggested a “pinprick,” similar in his estimation to a man who has been circumcised but not in the formal Jewish tradition; a grown male who chooses to marry a Jewish woman must complete the brit milah procedure by having himself pricked and a little blood is drawn. (Dr. Jasser assured him the procedures were not comparable.) Dershowitz has since been released as the group’s attorney; he is also reconsidering the morality of maintaining the procedure, given its intent and the effect on young girls and women.

Finally, Zuhdi Jasser spoke to this issue. He was in full agreement with Hirsi Ali and explained that the procedure was a practice of misogyny. That no matter how a version of FGM is performed, it is a form of hate and abuse. He and Hirsi Ali said there was a Hadith (writing after the Koran) that seemed to refer to this practice, but it was one that needed to be eliminated. Jasser is a well-known proponent of Islam reform, which he believes will need to include the equality of men and women; FGM has no place, therefore, in an enlightened Islam.

So why is this important to not only young girls everywhere, but particularly in the United States? As the Muslim population grows, young girls will be subjected to this abuse and mutilation by their own mothers. They will have no say in these decisions. And those who have already gone through the procedure will likely continue it with their own daughters, even though it is more a cultural practice than a religious one. After all, who wants their daughters to live lives of impurity and filth?

By the way, we don’t hear about these practices in the US for a number of reasons: doctors are conspiring with parents to conduct FGMs illegally; some families take their daughters abroad to receive these services; and Muslims are not willing to report these illegal actions. Meanwhile, the suffering of these little girls continues.

One of Hirsi Ali’s last comments was that we have to tell Muslim women that this practice is not only illegal, but they are not welcome in this country if they wish to practice it. She firmly stated that these women need to be told, “It’s not going to happen on our soil.”

What are your thoughts?

There are 55 comments.

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  1. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    My first thought is fear for Ms. Hirsi Ali’s and Dr. Jasser’s safety; my second is heartfelt thanks for their bravery. My third is fervent prayer for their success.

    • #1
    • June 25, 2018, at 2:34 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. JudithannCampbell Inactive

    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum (View Comment):

    My first thought is fear for Ms. Hirsi Ali’s and Dr. Jasser’s safety; my second is heartfelt thanks for their bravery. My third is fervent prayer for their success.

    Amen.

    • #2
    • June 25, 2018, at 2:40 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum (View Comment):

    My first thought is fear for Ms. Hirsi Ali’s and Dr. Jasser’s safety; my second is heartfelt thanks for their bravery. My third is fervent prayer for their success.

    Very courageous people. Thanks, Nanda .

    • #3
    • June 25, 2018, at 2:46 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Hypatia Inactive

    Seems to me we had this exact same discussion before.

    Is it the fact that it’s being done on young girls, below the age of consent, that bothers you?

    How egregious is it, really, compared to American parents consenting to (far more drastic) sex change operations on their kids before puberty? Or giving them puberty-delaying drugs?

    At least with FGM,it is being done to make these girls more feminine,  more attractive as women, the gender nature assigned them

    FGM is an African custom, rather than strictly a Muslim custom. They do lots of it in “Christian” Eritrea. It’s of a piece with women, beginning in girlhood, elongating their necks by wearing rows and rows of metal rings; if they were removed, their heads would fall over and their necks would break. And what about all those ludicrous bozos with plates in their lips?

    (Oh yuh, I have a degree in anthropology, but I’m not timid to see all  of these self-mutilations for what they are–and to judge some of ’em. S’why we are given the facility of judgment, after all…)

    • #4
    • June 25, 2018, at 3:01 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. JudithannCampbell Inactive

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    How egregious is it, really, compared to American parents consenting to (far more drastic) sex change operations on their kids before puberty? Or giving them puberty-delaying drugs?

     

    It’s no worse than sex changes for children, but I am pretty sure that there are not many on Ricochet who endorse sex changes for children. And, if large numbers of African immigrants started trying to elongate their children’s necks, or put plates in their tongues, there would be opposition.

    • #5
    • June 25, 2018, at 3:28 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Seems to me we had this exact same discussion before.

    Is it the fact that it’s being done on young girls, below the age of consent that bothers you?

    How egregious is it, really, compared to American parents consenting to (far more drastic) sex change operations on their kids before puberty? Or giving them puberty-delaying drugs?

    At least with FGM,it is being done to make these girls more feminine, more attractive as women, the gender nature assigned them

    FGM is an African custom, rather than strictly a Muslim custom. They do lots of it in “Christian” Eritrea. It’s of a piece with women, beginning in girlhood, elongating their necks by wearing rows and rows of metal rings; if they were removed, their heads would fall over and their necks would break. And what about all those ludicrous bozos with plates in their lips?

     

    Just to clarify, we haven’t had this exact same discussion before. I’ve posted on it but covered different issues this time. Yes, I think it’s horrendous doing this on little girls. I also dislike the neck elongation and plates in their lips, but nowadays there are tribes who make neck elongation optional; I don’t know about the lips. Somehow I think that mutilating a girl’s genitals is not the same as these other cultural acts. And now it’s not just African, it’s possibly happening in your neighborhood. And yes, sex change operations are obscene–but I assume the kids are consenting and have ignorant parents.

    • #6
    • June 25, 2018, at 3:29 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Kim K. Member
    Kim K. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Seems to me we had this exact same discussion before.

    Is it the fact that it’s being done on young girls, below the age of consent, that bothers you?

    How egregious is it, really, compared to American parents consenting to (far more drastic) sex change operations on their kids before puberty? Or giving them puberty-delaying drugs?

    At least with FGM,it is being done to make these girls more feminine, more attractive as women, the gender nature assigned them

    FGM is an African custom, rather than strictly a Muslim custom. They do lots of it in “Christian” Eritrea. It’s of a piece with women, beginning in girlhood, elongating their necks by wearing rows and rows of metal rings; if they were removed, their heads would fall over and their necks would break. And what about all those ludicrous bozos with plates in their lips?

    (Oh yuh, I have a degree in anthropology, but I’m not timid to see all of these self-mutilations for what they are–and to judge some of ’em. S’why we are given the facility of judgment, after all…)

    I thought one reason for this practice was to deaden women’s ability to be sexually stimulated. That may make a woman more attractive to a man who wants to make sure she doesn’t stray, but it hardly makes a woman more feminine or more attractive as a woman.

     

    • #7
    • June 25, 2018, at 5:00 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Kim K. (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Seems to me we had this exact same discussion before.

    Is it the fact that it’s being done on young girls, below the age of consent, that bothers you?

    How egregious is it, really, compared to American parents consenting to (far more drastic) sex change operations on their kids before puberty? Or giving them puberty-delaying drugs?

    At least with FGM,it is being done to make these girls more feminine, more attractive as women, the gender nature assigned them

    FGM is an African custom, rather than strictly a Muslim custom. They do lots of it in “Christian” Eritrea. It’s of a piece with women, beginning in girlhood, elongating their necks by wearing rows and rows of metal rings; if they were removed, their heads would fall over and their necks would break. And what about all those ludicrous bozos with plates in their lips?

    (Oh yuh, I have a degree in anthropology, but I’m not timid to see all of these self-mutilations for what they are–and to judge some of ’em. S’why we are given the facility of judgment, after all…)

    I thought one reason for this practice was to deaden women’s ability to be sexually stimulated. That may make a woman more attractive to a man who wants to make sure she doesn’t stray, but it hardly makes a woman more feminine or more attractive as a woman.

     

    Exactly. Intercourse will range from uncomfortable to excruciating for her life. The man assumes she won’t pursue sex anywhere else. 

    • #8
    • June 25, 2018, at 5:04 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Stina Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    The man assumes she won’t pursue sex anywhere else. 

    In an unfulfilling twist, she won’t seek it from him, either.

    But I suppose that is easier on the men… and ultimately unfulfilling for him as well. Isn’t it a huge point of pride among men for them to make their women cry out with pleasure?

    • #9
    • June 25, 2018, at 5:33 PM PDT
    • Like
  10. Hypatia Inactive

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Kim K. (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Seems to me we had this exact same discussion before.

    Is it the fact that it’s being done on young girls, below the age of consent, that bothers you?

    How egregious is it, really, compared to American parents consenting to (far more drastic) sex change operations on their kids before puberty? Or giving them puberty-delaying drugs?

    At least with FGM,it is being done to make these girls more feminine, more attractive as women, the gender nature assigned them

    FGM is an African custom, rather than strictly a Muslim custom. They do lots of it in “Christian” Eritrea. It’s of a piece with women, beginning in girlhood, elongating their necks by wearing rows and rows of metal rings; if they were removed, their heads would fall over and their necks would break. And what about all those ludicrous bozos with plates in their lips?

    (Oh yuh, I have a degree in anthropology, but I’m not timid to see all of these self-mutilations for what they are–and to judge some of ’em. S’why we are given the facility of judgment, after all…)

    I thought one reason for this practice was to deaden women’s ability to be sexually stimulated. That may make a woman more attractive to a man who wants to make sure she doesn’t stray, but it hardly makes a woman more feminine or more attractive as a woman.

     

    Exactly. Intercourse will range from uncomfortable to excruciating for her life. The man assumes she won’t pursue sex anywhere else.

    Yes, and all that makes her a more attractive marital prospect.

    Well–to cut through: so is the problem girls below the age of consent? And it sOK if mature women seek to undergo the process? 

     

    • #10
    • June 25, 2018, at 5:42 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    AltarGirl (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    The man assumes she won’t pursue sex anywhere else.

    In an unfulfilling twist, she won’t seek it from him, either.

    But I suppose that is easier on the men… and ultimately unfulfilling for him as well. Isn’t it a huge point of pride among men for them to make their women cry out with pleasure?

    If she screams out, it will likely be in pain. Since I doubt that Islam recognizes raping one’s wife, it may not matter to him the reason for her screams. 

    • #11
    • June 25, 2018, at 5:44 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Yes, and all that makes her a more attractive marital prospect.

    Well–to cut through: so is the problem girls below the age of consent? And it sOK if mature women seek to undergo the process? 

    From Wikipedia:

    With the passage of the Female Genital Mutilation Act in 1996, performing FGM on anyone under age 18 became a felony in the United States.[10] In addition to federal policy, 26 states have made specific laws that prohibit FGM as of 2017.[11] The US has also participated in several UN resolutions that advocate for the eradication of FGM, including the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).[12][3][13]

    Personally I think it’s ghastly. Isn’t it interesting that we allow people to mutilate their bodies in other ways in some states if they’re over 21, but not this one? That might have been what you were getting at, @hypatia.

    • #12
    • June 25, 2018, at 5:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Stina Member

    Ok. I finished reading this.

    I have such a frustration with our no-God politics. I asked Mr. Harvester if Sweden’s banning of circumcision could be related to their attempts to ban FGM. I didn’t get into it there, but I will here:

    Because of our no-God politics, creating laws with disparate impact on one religious group would be viewed as an abridgement of First Ammendment rights. In order to move past that, you have to ban all under-age genital mutilation (face it, many believe circumcision is that), which places Jews outside our laws.

    We are loathe, as a nation, to do this.

    That we have anti-FGM laws at all is a small miracle, but as our muslim population explodes, I would watch to see it challenged at the SCOTUS level… which should incentivize us to keep the populations that practice it at a very low level. If it is specific to countries, don’t allow them to immigrate here.

    Immigration is our first defense against challenges to our culture from those who seek protection of our constitution. That is the most humane way to avoid the debate here. Otherwise, you are pretty much asking for their unacceptable cultural practices to be brought here.

    • #13
    • June 25, 2018, at 6:32 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. Henry Castaigne Member

    I find Ayan Hirsi Ali’s advocacy for not permitting voluntary FGM necessary but odd. If a woman permits violence against herself she will permit it against others. As much as I admire individualism and libertarianism, the individual’s ability to corrupt the society around her overrides her autonomy. Without an individual wanting to be free, she cannot make the society around her free. I know this sounds like I’m flirting with Rousseau’s general will and that bothers me but I can’t find any other way around it. 

    • #14
    • June 25, 2018, at 7:29 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. JudithannCampbell Inactive

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I find Ayan Hirsi Ali’s advocacy for not permitting voluntary FGM necessary but odd. If a woman permits violence against herself she will permit it against others. As much as I admire individualism and libertarianism, the individual’s ability to corrupt the society around her overrides her autonomy. Without an individual wanting to be free, she cannot make the society around her free. I know this sounds like I’m flirting with Rousseau’s general will and that bothers me but I can’t find any other way around it.

    I never thought of it this way before. You are absolutely right; thank you.

    • #15
    • June 25, 2018, at 7:33 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Henry Castaigne Member

    It should be noted, that African Christians don’t seem at all interested in continuing this practice once they emigrate to a Western Country. At least, I’ve never heard of an African Christian going back to an African country to get it done.

    • #16
    • June 25, 2018, at 7:48 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Little My Member

    About 15 years ago I was at a conference at Tantur (an ecumenical theological research institute in Jerusalem, affiliated with Notre Dame University) about women and spirituality, with Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Druse, and Muslim participants. Discussions were lively, since the women attending ranged from radical feminist to very conservative.

    A Muslim woman professor from the University of Southampton (England), was asked about FGM. She pointed out that it is a “cultural” matter and pre-Islamic, but not specifically part of Islamic practice. I thought her response rather disingenuous.

    My own main beef was, if Islam is a “universal” religion accepting converts from any ethnic or national group, and it proclaims sharia as the highest of moral authorities, then why can’t it stop a practice that is pre-Islamic and merely cultural? Usually anything pre-Islamic (art, architecture, literature, for example) is either ignored or destroyed.

    I thought, when early Christian missionaries ventured into northern Europe and encountered tree-worship, they took their axes, chopped down the sacred groves and burnt them. Christianity went on to prevail in northern Europe. So what good is Islam if it can’t do away with a pre-Islamic practice like this? Clearly, the continuation of this “cultural” practice is important within Islam.

    I do understand that Islam has spread throughout the world, and lacks a central authoritative body (such as Catholics have with the Vatican and the pope), so it would be difficult to get complete agreement to condemn a widespread “cultural practice” like FGM. But, hey, we now live in the world of instant world-wide communication. Islamic authorities could certainly convene and condemn this abhorrent practice (along with “honor” murder).

    So I hope the recent report in WND about Egypt — that one of the authoritative Islamic bodies (significantly not Al-Azhar) has declared FGM illegal — is true and that it leads to a general worldwide condemnation by all branches of Islam. I’m not holding my breath.

    • #17
    • June 26, 2018, at 12:54 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Henry Castaigne Member

    According to Wikipedia, there is alot Islam that supports it. It is a gross oversimplification to call FGM unislamic.

    The various schools of Islamic jurisprudence have expressed differing views on FGM.[51] The Maliki, Hanafi and Hanbali schools of Islamic jurisprudence view it as makrama for women (“noble”, as opposed to obligatory).[52] For the Shafi’i school it is obligatory (wājib).[53][52][54]Other scholars say it has no justification at all.[55

     

    • #18
    • June 26, 2018, at 1:48 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Israel P. Inactive

    How do you do this in a way that precludes courts (and progressive academics) from applying the same laws to circumcision, which is also done for babies who cannot consent? (This is a rhetorical question because courts will not consider themselves bound by whatever precautions the legislators write into the laws.)

    • #19
    • June 26, 2018, at 2:10 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  20. Zafar Member

    Here is wiki on the issue.

    Indonesia really surprised me.

     

    • #20
    • June 26, 2018, at 2:53 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Zafar Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    According to Wikipedia, there is alot Islam that supports it. It is a gross oversimplification to call FGM unislamic.

    The various schools of Islamic jurisprudence have expressed differing views on FGM.[51] The Maliki, Hanafi and Hanbali schools of Islamic jurisprudence view it as makrama for women (“noble”, as opposed to obligatory).[52] For the Shafi’i school it is obligatory (wājib).[53][52][54]Other scholars say it has no justification at all.[55

    But just before that section in wiki:

    FGM is found mostly within and adjacent to Muslim communities. Prevalence rates among various Muslim nations depend on the ethnicity and location. [33] In Arabic, the practice is referred to as khafḍ (Arabic: خفض‎) or khifaḍ (Arabic: خِفَض‎). Khitan (Arabic: خِتان‎) means male circumcision, but it can also encompass FGM.[34][35] Less severe forms of FGM, or what the World Health Organization calls Type I (removal of the clitoral hood and/or the clitoral glans), may be referred to as sunna (recommended).[36]

    Senior Muslim religious authorities appear to agree that FGM is not required by Islam or is prohibited by it.[7] The Quran does not mention FGM or male circumcision.[37][38] FGM is praised in a few daʻīf (weak) hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad) as noble but not required.[39] In addition to Sharia, the Ijtihad have been one of the four sources of Muslim law through the centuries. Ijtihad include fatwas (opinions of Muslim religious scholars), which are often widely distributed and describe behaviour that conforms to religious requirements. Fatwas have been issued forbidding FGM,[40] favouring it,[41] and leaving the decision to parents but advising against it.[42]

    Several Muslim leaders have called for an end to the practice. In 2004, after CNN broadcast images of a girl in Cairo undergoing FGM, then Grand Mufti of Egypt Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi declared that hadiths on FGM were unreliable.[41][43][44][45] A conference at Al-Azhar University in Cairo in 2006 saw prominent Muslim clergy declare it unnecessary.[46]

    After a 12-year-old Egyptian girl died during an FGM procedure in 2007, the Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research in Cairo ruled, according to UNICEF, that FGM had “no basis in core Islamic law or any of its partial provisions and that it is harmful and should not be practiced”.[47][48] Ali Gomaa, then Grand Mufti of Egypt, stated: “It’s prohibited, prohibited, prohibited.”[48] Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation said in 2012 that FGM was “a ritual that has survived over centuries and must be stopped as Islam does not support it”.[49]

    Which seems like something worth supporting. That is to say, schools of jurisprudence should be able to change – which is a more profound positive in Islamic thought than may first be apparent.

     

    • #21
    • June 26, 2018, at 2:56 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. ST Inactive
    ST

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Since I doubt that Islam recognizes raping one’s wife,

    The wives of a muslim cannot be raped by her husband.

    Yep, just as I thought.

    Rape ‘impossible’ in marriage, says Muslim cleric

    • #22
    • June 26, 2018, at 3:18 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Little My (View Comment):

    About 15 years ago I was at a conference at Tantur (an ecumenical theological research institute in Jerusalem, affiliated with Notre Dame University) about women and spirituality, with Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Druse, and Muslim participants. Discussions were lively, since the women attending ranged from radical feminist to very conservative.

    A Muslim woman professor from the University of Southampton (England), was asked about FGM. She pointed out that it is a “cultural” matter and pre-Islamic, but not specifically part of Islamic practice. I thought her response rather disingenuous.

    My own main beef was, if Islam is a “universal” religion accepting converts from any ethnic or national group, and it proclaims sharia as the highest of moral authorities, then why can’t it stop a practice that is pre-Islamic and merely cultural? Usually anything pre-Islamic (art, architecture, literature, for example) is either ignored or destroyed.

    I thought, when early Christian missionaries ventured into northern Europe and encountered tree-worship, they took their axes, chopped down the sacred groves and burnt them. Christianity went on to prevail in northern Europe. So what good is Islam if it can’t do away with a pre-Islamic practice like this? Clearly, the continuation of this “cultural” practice is important within Islam.

    I do understand that Islam has spread throughout the world, and lacks a central authoritative body (such as Catholics have with the Vatican and the pope), so it would be difficult to get complete agreement to condemn a widespread “cultural practice” like FGM. But, hey, we now live in the world of instant world-wide communication. Islamic authorities could certainly convene and condemn this abhorrent practice (along with “honor” murder).

    So I hope the recent report in WND about Egypt — that one of the authoritative Islamic bodies (significantly not Al-Azhar) has declared FGM illegal — is true and that it leads to a general worldwide condemnation by all branches of Islam. I’m not holding my breath.

    Eloquently said, @littlemy. Thank you. 

    • #23
    • June 26, 2018, at 4:44 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: What are your thoughts?

    Next to rape, genital mutilation is the worst thing that can be done to a woman IMHO. Anyone who performs or causes to be performed FGM should spend a minimum of 20 years in a Federal prison.

    • #24
    • June 26, 2018, at 6:12 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. PHenry Member

    I am not supporting FGM, please don’t misunderstand.

    It is not fair to draw full equivalence between male and female circumcision, but there are a lot of very persuasive similarities.

    Both involve mutilation of children’s genitals. Before they can give any consent.

    Both involve religious, as well as social traditions.

    And both are justified by many parents by saying, I don’t want my child to be/look different than her mother/his father.

    Again, the fact that FGM involves mutilation to the point of preventing normal relations, where male circumcision does not, makes it a much more offensive and harmful process.

    But if you are outraged by any country’s movement to ban male circumcision because it offends religious obligation, you should have some reservations about blanket bans of other religion’s practices and obligations.

    If it is wrong to mutilate a child’s genitals, it is universally so. If not, then we need to better define what it is we wish to ban. There are forms of FGM that do not include the removal of the pleasure organs or prevent normal sexual relations any more than male circumcision does. Shouldn’t we be willing to allow those forms? (I’m not sure, but to be honest, I am more inclined to ban any childhood body modifications than I am to tolerate full FGM )

    • #25
    • June 26, 2018, at 7:51 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    PHenry (View Comment):

    Both involve mutilation of children’s genitals. Before they can give any consent.

    Both involve religious, as well as social traditions.

    And both are justified by many parents by saying, I don’t want my child to be/look different than her mother/his father.

    I appreciate your comments, @phenry, since they give me a chance to clarify some misunderstandings. First, your first point is accurate; however, I think it’s relevant that male circumcision happens on the 8th days after his birth, whereas a little girl is more mentally cognizant of what is happening. Second, many Muslims (whether they practice FGM or not) know that FGM is not a religious practice; it is a cultural one, and if stopped, does not violate the Koran. In Judaism, circumcision is a covenant with G-d and is deeply religious. And third, no one “sees” what happens after FGM; and male circumcision has nothing to do with resembling the father; it is an sacred ceremony between the child and G-d

    PHenry (View Comment):
    There are forms of FGM that do not include the removal of the pleasure organs or prevent normal sexual relations any more than male circumcision does. Shouldn’t we be willing to allow those forms? (I’m not sure, but to be honest, I am more inclined to ban any childhood body modifications than I am to tolerate full FGM )

    No. The problem is that no one agrees with which degree of FGM is acceptable. Not only that, a girl is told she must have it in order to be pure, because she is filthy if she doesn’t have it performed. Zuhdi Jasser describes it as misogyny. It is also intended to limit a woman’s pleasure so she doesn’t stray from her husband. Through all of this, remember it is not religious. And Zudhi Jasser is a practicing Muslim.
    .

    • #26
    • June 26, 2018, at 8:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. PHenry Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    It is also intended to limit a woman’s pleasure so she doesn’t stray from her husband. Through all of this, remember it is not religious.

    I agree, when it is done to include the sexual pleasure center, it is intended to limit or destroy a woman’s pleasure, thus desire. It is misogyny. And in many ways fits the general phobia of female sexuality demonstrated by some religions. 

    But I don’t know that you can blanket declare it is not religious. It is not universally accepted as a religious obligation, but some clearly consider it so. Further, remember, not all male circumcision is done for religious reasons. It is done quite commonly in America for purely social reasons. 

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    And third, no one “sees” what happens after FGM; and male circumcision has nothing to do with resembling the father; it is an sacred ceremony between the child and G-d

    I would disagree, if no one sees then it would not be seen as a sign of impurity or whatever. Clearly, the husband, the woman, and her parents ‘see’ the result. 

    And while for the Jewish faith is it a sacred ceremony between the child and G-d, for non Jewish I have more than once ( including on the recent thread on circumcision and from my own mother) heard that the decision to circumcise was based upon the father being circumcised. 

    • #27
    • June 26, 2018, at 8:30 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. MarciN Member

    The history of the FGM practice reminds me of foot binding in China

    Human beings are highly adaptable to their environment. That characteristic is both a strength and a weakness. 

    We can see the workings of human psychology so often in little kids. My husband and I did not have the television on when my kids were little, and my oldest, Kate, never watched television. We were simply busy doing other things, and I had the kids on a pretty rigid supper-bath-story time-bedtime schedule. The kids watched Sesame Street at four o’clock in the afternoon while I was picking up the house and getting supper, but otherwise there was no television. Or radio. I was a somewhat fanatical nanny-mother with my first child. A little more relaxed with my second. And when my third (son) came along, I was a completely different and more modern mother. He came along six years after my second child, and the older kids wore down my anti-television resolve after a while. His early years had television in them, and he was a much cooler kid in kindergarten than his older sisters had been. Irma Bombeck was right: each child has a different mother. :-)

    At any rate, when Kate was in third grade, I overheard her say to one of her friends, “We don’t watch television.” She said it with so much pride. It was a stunning moment for me. I had never said anything negative about television to her. But all those years from nursery school through kindergarten through elementary school, she had realized that her family life was quite different from that of her friends. Every time they talked about their Disney lunchbox, she handled it in her mind by embracing her individuality. She adapted by making it a source of pride. 

    Why do Muslim women continue to wear the stifling full niqab? Over time, they adapted to being different from the rest of the world, and it probably offered some benefits such as not having to contend with an aging body. From adaptation we go to full embrace and then pride in being different. It sounds like that what’s happened with the FGM.

    It is really hard dislodge a cultural practice that has been rationalized in this way over centuries. 

    Like foot binding. For a truly wonderful story about the recent history of foot binding in China, see one of my all-time-favorite movies, Ingrid Bergman in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.

    • #28
    • June 26, 2018, at 8:37 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Stad Thatcher

    PHenry (View Comment):
    It is not fair to draw full equivalence between male and female circumcision, but there are a lot of very persuasive similarities.

    True, it is not a fair comparison. However, the similarities do not outweigh the overall horror of the female procedure – IMHO . . .

    • #29
    • June 26, 2018, at 10:25 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Stad Thatcher

    PHenry (View Comment):
    But I don’t know that you can blanket declare it is not religious. It is not universally accepted as a religious obligation, but some clearly consider it so.

    I can easily declare FGM a horrific practice that must be stopped at all costs, whether it is religiously based or not. IMHO, it’s a crime against humanity . . .

    • #30
    • June 26, 2018, at 10:28 AM PDT
    • 2 likes

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