Friday, May 28, 2010

FGM: “Think of It as a Genital Burqa”

Nilk in Australia sent this news report about the current clinical situation regarding the widespread practice of mutilation of young girls’ genitals among African and Egyptian immigrants in Oz.

The most striking thing about this story is the headline the paper chose:

Push to Let Australian Doctors Mutilate Genitals of Baby Girls

They are obviously quite clear about where they stand on the issue. Would that Australia’s medical personnel so definitive. Instead, we are treated to weasel words:

The practice involving cutting a girl’s genitals, sometimes with razors or pieces of glass, could be allowed in a clinical setting to stem illegal backyard procedures which are leaving young girls scarred for life.

The Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetricians will next month discuss backing “ritual nicks”, a modified form of genital mutilation.

How’s that for relativizing medical ethics right out the door? They are actually considering a way to avoid coming down hard on a superstitious barbarism in order to save the little girls? Try killing them with kindness, hmm?

Female genital mutilation has been outlawed in Australia since the 1990s but is common among African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities.

With the rise in Somali and Sudanese numbers in Australia, doctors are seeing more cases of young girls, and women, needing surgery after illegal operations. Backers of “ritual nick” said it was a superficial procedure leaving no long-term damage.


“We will need to start to think about [its introduction] but we would have to speak to community leaders from Australia,” Dr Pecoraro said.

This doctor needs CME courses in remedial medical ethics, and he needs them yesterday. “We will need to start to think…”?? I’ll say. This guy has a chronic case of cultural diversity indoctrination. If someone doesn’t intervene, he’ll be ready to pick up that scalpel and start “helping” little girls. What do community leaders have to do with his own medical ethics? If it’s wrong for white Australian girls, it’s wrong for black immigrant girls.

“If a nick could meet the cultural needs of a particular woman, then it might save her from going through what can really be drastic surgery.

“But we need to make sure we do not legitimise the ritualistic maiming of children.”

This is incredible. Just talking about the “if” with “community leaders” is legitimising criminal sadism. Surely the man is not really this dim?

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Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the American Academy of Pediatrics has been pushed to the tipping point by outspoken victims and opponents of this scheme and have backed off from last month’s approval:

The American Academy of Pediatrics has rescinded a controversial policy statement raising the idea that doctors in some communities should be able to substitute demands for female genital cutting with a harmless clitoral “pricking” procedure.

“We retracted the policy because it is important that the world health community understands the AAP is totally opposed to all forms of female genital cutting, both here in the U.S. and anywhere else in the world,” said AAP President Judith S. Palfrey.


In the April statement, the group raised the idea that some physicians should be able to prick or nick a girl’s clitoral skin in order to “satisfy cultural requirements.” The group likened the nick to an ear piercing.

Believe it or not, this issue has been talked about in the American media for at least the last fifteen years. And we’re only now getting officially serious about it.

I can understand the foot-dragging. The logistics of enforcing this ban are a nightmare, and the notion of having to check little girls for signs of damage is daunting.

There is also the problem of parents returning to the old country, or paying the way here for a “visit” by one of their cutters to come in and mutilate as many customers as possible on her visit. So much cheaper for everyone involved. Except for the little girls, of course.

“Cultural practices” are very difficult to change, much less eradicate. You can take the family out of Somalia, but disconnecting them from an indelible belief that women are evil and will ensnare men is all but impossible. Might as well try to convince the Roman Catholic Church that the idea of a celibate clergy has long passed its sell-by date. Even though many, perhaps a majority, of Catholics in the pew no longer believe in this imposed control, those in power sail on as though this rule is inviolable. It isn’t.

So it is with African and Egyptian immigrants, both Muslim and Christian if this report is to be believed…
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Cutting off a little girls’ genitals and sewing closed whatever tissue remains has been against the law in Egypt for some time. Fatwahs have been issued; legislation has been passed, but the practice continues in full force.

From the report, details of a meeting in November 2006:

Prominent Muslim scholars from around the world, including conservative religious leaders from Egypt and Africa, met on Wednesday to speak out against female genital mutilation at a rare high-level conference on the age-old practice. The meeting was organised by a German human rights and held under the patronage of Dar Al-Iftaa, Egypt’s main religious-edicts organisation. It was held at the conference centre of Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni Islamic institution in the world.

Al Azhar’s grand sheik, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, attended as well as Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Ali Goma’a, whose fatwas are considered binding religious edicts. It is rare for such religious figures in Egypt to attend such a conference on an issue that remains sensitive and controversial here. An estimated 50 percent of schoolgirls in Egypt are thought to undergo the procedure, according to government statistics.

My guess is that it’s higher than just fifty percent. It’s probably also partially a question of class. The further down the socioeconomic scale one goes, the more likely one is to find ‘universally’ accepted cultural norms for the necessity of mutilating girl children.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, writing prior to this new retraction by the American Pediatric Association, said [emphasis is mine — D]:

To understand this problem, we need to begin with parental motives. The “nicking” option is regarded as a necessary cleansing ritual. The clitoris is considered to be an impure part of the girl-child and bleeding it is believed to make her pure and free of evil spirits.

But the majority of girls are subjected to FGM to ensure their virginity-hence the sewing up of the opening of the vagina-and to curb their libido to guarantee sexual fidelity after marriage-hence the effective removal of the clitoris and scraping of the labia. Think of it as a genital burqa, designed to control female sexuality.

When the motive for FGM is to ensure chastity before marriage and to curb female libido, then the nick option is not sufficient.

In other words, these parents know the price their daughter will pay if she is not fixed; she will be considered immoral and unmarriageable.

Ms. Hirsi Ali again:

But even once the legislative flaws are fixed, there remains the really difficult question of detection.

For the law to have any meaningful effect in eradicating FGM in the U.S., we need to work out a way of knowing when a girl has been mutilated. As a legislator in the Netherlands, this was for me the thorniest issue. In the United States, where civil liberties are even more jealously guarded, the thorns are likely to be sharper still.

It is not unrealistic to imagine the ACLU defending some African parents being prosecuted for continuing this barbarity in the U.S.

The proponents of multiculturalism are not only ignorant (i.e., FGM is against the law where these people come from to begin with), they create killing fields where little girls are sacrificed in the name of the multi-cultic orthodoxies.

This one is going to be tough to change. In fact, the only way to change it is to insist on assimilation of immigrants into the larger culture, complete with demands for learning English, an end to polygamy, becoming literate, sending children (especially little girls) to school, and insisting that the able-bodied work to earn their way.

You can’t change deeply held cultural convictions in a generation, but you sure can erode them over time. Especially if you can get the enablers in our own culture to stop assisting in the perpetuation of harmful ideas.

This problem is about changing us. If you have any doubt of it, just look at Dr. Pecoraro’s statements in Australia. He’s definitely an elitist; it shows in his purported “thinking”. That’s the real problem: the hollowed-out slogans that pass for thinking among the elites.

Female genital mutilation in the West is a symptom of a larger problem of criminal cultural idiocy among the natives.


Juniper in the Desert said...

Surely this breaks the Hypocratic Oath all doctors have to make?

Dymphna said...

You mean the one about "first do no harm"? Well, the indoctrinated doc could just say he was doing less harm in order to 'save' the little girl from a much more devastating cruelty.

Even if that were the case, it would simply be a good cover for parents who got the whole infibulation done on a visit home. No need to check their child, because the western doc had done a ceremonial nic, so no problem.

This was the case that the victims who spoke out against this seemed to have impressed on the American Assoc. I mean, that their attempt to intervene would provide parents with a good cover story, but it wouldn't change anything.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a whole lot different than the push by feminists in the US to legalize abandoning your infant. I believe most states now allow it, with putatively sex-neutral language no less. We all know these laws are intended to apply only to women.

The claim was that we must make it legal or mothers are going to harm their children. Personally, I regard a threat of "let me go or I'll kill my kid" as murderous extortion and should never be countenanced by a sane and civil society. "Make it legal or i'll mutilate my daughter anyway" is a similiarly framed threat.

The real reason for pushing this had nothing to do with the children in my opinion. It was all about (1) letting mothers out of their parental responsibility without finding a replacement first, and (2) writing out fathers entirely by giving them neither notice nor recourse should a mother choose this route.

Sir Henry Morgan said...

My brother asked me to post this on his behalf:

" I'm just running this up the flagpole here and I speak as a medically qualified person.

Just to go off at a tangent for a second, hypothetically, would it be acceptable for us in the west to mitigate the practice of sati by, say, legitimising the inflicting of third degree burns to, say, the elbow?

Is this logically consistent? "

Dymphna said...

Sir Henry--

Funny, we never did sanction sati, did we? That was before the world went to hell in a p.c. handbasket...

Good analogy.
randian, while I don't fault your argument, this is not about what feminists do at all. It's about what parents insist on having done to their girl children.

OT, but yes, I agree that behavior becomes more and more degraded. The Baron's behavioral sink.

I am far more personally familiar with the effects of fathers abandoning perfectly fine children so they could get out from under the burden of being a parent. I can only speak from experience on that one.

Anonymous said...

How about not letting these idiots MOVE HERE in the first place? Why do we need immigrants again?

Anyway, my bigger problem is the male genital circumcision right now since it's a more widespread practice and it's legal here which is appalling to me. I don't get why it's not banned too, if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

randian, while I don't fault your argument, this is not about what feminists do at all.

The argument wasn't about feminists. My point was that for some reason we allow extortionate threats against children to dull our sense of moral outrage. We permit reprehensible acts in the name of the children, because we foolishly believe that if we say no that we are responsible for the acts of the extorter, or that we are bad people for exercising our cultural perogatives.

Anonymous said...

The AAP has YET to POST its revised FGM policy on its website....

To compare FGM with circumcision as if the two procedures are equivalent is a false comparison.

In 99.9% cases, FGM has infinitely worse, more invasive, and long lasting physical and psychological consequences for women (and their babies) than circumcision has for men.

"2 JUNE 2006 | GENEVA -- A new study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that women who have had Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are significantly more likely to experience difficulties during childbirth and that their babies are more likely to die as a result of the practice." (WHO website)

"Among social activists and feminists, combating female genital mutilation (FGM) is an important policy goal. Sometimes called female circumcision or female genital cutting, FGM is the cutting of the clitoris of girls in order to curb their sexual desire and preserve their sexual honor before marriage. The practice, prevalent in some [sic-ALL!] majority Muslim countries, has a tremendous cost: many girls bleed to death or die of infection. Most are traumatized. Those who survive can suffer adverse health effects during marriage and pregnancy. New information from Iraqi Kurdistan raises the possibility that the problem is more prevalent in the Middle East than previously believed and that FGM is far more tied to religion than many Western academics and activists admit."

"Most studies speak of "justifications"[36] and "rationalizations"[37] for FGM but do not speak of causes since this could implicate Islamic rules relating to women and sexual morality. Islam is regarded as a wrong "justification," often with a citation that the Qur'an does not require FGM. That many women in northern Iraq—and presumably many women in Egypt—believe that the practice is rooted in religion is a factor ignored by Western universities and international organizations."

"In short, some clerics condemn FGM as an archaic practice, some accept it, and still others believe it to be obligatory." (Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2007, pp. 29-36)

Anonymous said...

Egghead, male circumcision is an archaic, completely stupid practice too that in any civilized society would get banned. Mutilating babies is stupid regardless of their gender. And you can make a parallel with Judaism and male circumcision.

The way I see it, in a modern place, where you do have running water and you can wash, it has no benefit, no matter how much the people ramble about it. Funny enough, it doesn't even protect a man from infection, it actually makes infection more likely, while destroying the protection from constant abrasion. There's also higher sensitivity and lubrication and so on. Circumcised men also have higher possibility of getting STDs(all except HIV).

I don't see why any should be legal or why they should be prosecuted differently. Mutilation is mutilation.

Quaoar said...

The practice of MALE genital mutilation, i.e., removal of the foreskin, has been both approved and advocated by the US medical profession. My wife is recognized far and wide for her ability to do a foreskin removal from baby boys.

Now comes the Muslim population with a 1400 year old practice of mutilation of baby girls' genitals.

So, why are we talking about baby girls' genital mutilation, but practice foreskin removal from baby boys without question?

If we allow genital mutilation of baby boys, what is wrong with mutilating the genitals of baby girls?

Frankly, we should prohibit the genital mutilations of both baby males and of baby females.

Someone in power in the western countries should stand up and describe the hypocrisy of the prevalent attitude of mutilating baby boys, and then start arguing against mutilating baby girls. Christians and Jews are responsible for mutilating the genitals of baby boys. Muslims are responsible for mutilating baby girls.

Why don't we advocate for ceasing the genital mutilations of both baby boys an baby girls?

Food for thought.

Zenster said...

Egghead: To compare FGM with circumcision as if the two procedures are equivalent is a false comparison.

Egghead makes the vital point. Circumcision leaves a male sexually functional. FGM is more akin to a continuous and daily rape. The permanent impairment of a person's sexuality is on a par with depriving them of sight or hearing. While less apparent, the overall effect is just as much of a handicap in life.

"Genital Burqa" falls so far short of the mark as to be laughable. Both are undesirable but only one is so detestably heinous. Most despicable of all is how women perform this atrocity upon each other. That Islam − already the practitioner of Abject Gender Apartheid − can persuade women that they should betray their own gender in such a devastating manner stands as stark testimony to how totally antsgonistic it is to human life in general.

Anonymous said...

Zenster, having a finger cut off would leave me functional too, this doesn't mean that we should cut fingers of little babies. I agree with james, both should be banned and prosecuted and I'd be damned if I have children and any of them gets circumcised.

Zenster said...

rebelliousvanilla: ... having a finger cut off would leave me functional too, this doesn't mean that we should cut fingers of little babies.

Do I anywhere advocate male circumcision?

In times past, before any advent of the modern luxury known as inexpensive regular personal hygiene, circumcision conferred a male health benefit in that additional aeration of the glans reduced the potential for accretion of smegma which could otherwise promote serious genital infections. (Slight possibility of PG-13 medical discussion to follow.)

Balanitis (From the Cleveland Clinic site that will not link due to illegal search terms in the URL)

Balanitis is an inflammation of the skin covering the head of the [male member]. A similar condition, balanoposthitis, refers to inflammation of the head and the foreskin. Symptoms of balanitis include redness or swelling, itching, rash, pain and a foul-smelling discharge.

Balanitis most often occurs in men and boys who have not been circumcised (had their foreskin surgically removed), and who have poor hygiene. Inflammation can occur if the sensitive skin under the foreskin is not washed regularly, allowing sweat, debris, dead skin and bacteria to collect under the foreskin and cause irritation. The presence of tight foreskin may make it difficult to keep this area clean and can lead to irritation by a foul-smelling substance (smegma) that can accumulate under the foreskin.

Other causes may include:

Dermatitis/allergy — Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin, often caused by an irritating substance or a contact allergy. Sensitivity to chemicals in certain products—such as soaps, detergents, perfumes and spermicides—can cause an allergic reaction, including irritation, itching and a rash.

Infection — Infection with the yeast candida albicans (thrush) can result in an itchy, spotty rash. Certain sexually transmitted diseases—including gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis—can produce symptoms of balanitis.

In addition, men with diabetes are at greater risk for balanitis. Glucose (sugar) in the urine that is trapped under the foreskin serves as a breeding ground for bacteria.

Persistent inflammation of the penis head and foreskin can result in scarring, which can cause a tightening of the foreskin (phimosis) and a narrowing of the urethra (tube that drains urine from the bladder). Inflammation also can lead to swelling of the foreskin, which can cause injury to the [male member].

Treatment for balanitis depends on the underlying cause. If there is an infection, treatment will include an appropriate antibiotic or antifungal medication. In cases of severe or persistent inflammation, a circumcision may be recommended.

The ability for balanitis to alias symptoms related to the onset of far more serious conditions such as venereal disease and herpes poses distinct health risks as well.

Additionally, there has also been clinical speculation that the minor reduction of sensation imparted by male circumcision may enable circumcised males to better resist premature ejaculation that results from overstimulation during coitus. Thus, being a more reproductively healthy and better lover represented substantial genetic advantages in times past.

Finally, it is always of great importance to banish any comparison between male circumcision and female genital mutilation. This association is a preferred method used by Muslims to downplay the devastating and cruel effects of FGM and should be brought to light at all times, in order to thwart this revolting attempt at medical equivalency.

PS: Would you believe that the verification word for this comment was "pskin"?

Anonymous said...

Genetic advantage is something conferred by your genotype. Also, regardless of the state of foreskin, most men get over premature ejaculation after having intercourse for a while.

And no, you don't have to banish the comparison, you have to ban both. It's that simple. Mutilation to me is mutilation. There's no reason to circumcise anyone.

By the way, the AAP(American Academy of Pediatrics) opposes both. It has absolutely no benefits for someone who doesn't live in a desert and doesn't have running water, so it's child mutilation and torture. If you want, the differences in between the two are like in between rape and assault rape. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and another thing. I focus on male circumcision because everyone does on the female one. The male one isn't even included in the UN reports of violence against children.

Zenster said...

rebelliousvanilla, you continue to either willfully ignore or somehow miss my point.

At least male circumcision has some sort of justifiable historical precedent. It's practice no longer has anywhere near the same merit it once might have had but can be understood in terms of traditional cultural context, at least to some extent.

By comparison, female genital mutilation has no validity, even in historical cultural context. That is, unless one assigns worth to the obliteration of a woman's sexual pleasure as a way of supposedly assuring marital fidelity. Swatting flies with a sledgehammer is a lesser form of overkill in that respect.

Male circumcision no longer has anywhere near the merit it may once have had.

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION HAS NEVER HAD ANY MERIT IN THE FIRST PLACE. It remains a devastatingly cruel and vicious practice of barbaric cultures among which Islam remains one of the few widespread practitioners.

Anonymous said...

Zenster, reactions like yours are the sole reason why I find male circumcision as worse than female circumcision. From the same 'cultural' point of view, Muslims justify FGM. At the end of the day though, both are mutilation of infants and should be treated as such. And no, male circumcision has no health merit at all. The only merits that people come up with are stupid fake science like the study related to AIDS in Africa and circumcision, which was proved as flawed.

Neither of them has any justification whatsoever and while FGM is seen as barbaric, MGM is seen as ok, which is the reason why it's pissing me off. By the way, a similar removal of sexual pleasure takes place with MGM too, if you compare it to the FGM in which the clitoris isn't removed.

Oh, and MGM didn't have any justification either in places that aren't deserts like the Middle East 100-200 years ago. I have no idea why it became popular in America.

Zenster said...

rebelliousvanilla: Zenster, reactions like yours are the sole reason why I find male circumcision as worse than female circumcision. From the same 'cultural' point of view, Muslims justify FGM.

What part of; "By comparison, female genital mutilation has no validity, even in historical cultural context.", do you not understand?

Male circumcision, in order to prevent balanoposthitis was and continues to be a valid medical procedure. Even now it is prescribed in cases of recurring balanitis. Google Cleveland+Clinic+Balanitis, then read the very first search result.

For the sake or brevity I have omitted the parts about phimosis, which can potentially cause death due to dysreflexia (or hyperreflexia), and paraphimosis, which can lead to gangrene and possible amputation of the affected member (so to speak).

And no, male circumcision has no health merit at all.

I have already presented well-recognized medical documentation contrary to your position. Your abject refusal to accept these facts in no way discredits them, only yourself.

Additionally, you also seem to ignore how the only supposedly valid "cultural context" for female genital mutilation is that it ostensibly saves the life of a woman who, through seeking sexual pleasure with a man other than her husband, would otherwise be stoned to death.


This absurd qualification was already made abundantly clear in my earlier comments and its repetition has only been necessitated by your own continuing refusal to accept my explanations in their proper context.

Please stop being so obstinate when the facts do not bear out your argument and we are, otherwise, in complete and already noted agreement.

Anonymous said...

Zenster, most people don't get phimosis and only a small number of those that do require circumcision. Doing it preemptively is utterly stupid.

About balanoposthitis - the key is basic hygiene. All it takes is water and a towel, you know? Funny enough, in my country the vast majority, just like in Europe of men are uncircumcised. Yet none of these conditions caused death 100 years ago, let alone now.

Still, I find it quite amusing that some people prescribe preemptive surgery for things that don't happen with proper hygiene and if they do, they can be treated with antifungals and the like. Your position is like saying that we should install those drainage things that patients with collapsed lungs get on everybody preemptively.

And the only supposed cultural context for MGM is some weird practice in Judaism and other Middle Eastern religions. The facts do support my position - circumcision is a pointless mutilation of male babies for some health risks that happen only in conditions of poor hygiene that existed centuries ago in deserts. Advocating it as a preemptive measure is utterly stupid considering that even with poor hygiene it can be solved with pills, not surgery, but in any civilized place mutilating infants in the place of teaching them hygiene is silly.

Zenster said...

rebelliousvanilla: Doing it preemptively is utterly stupid.

You are the only one who is mentioning preemptive circumcision. What's your point?

Your position is like saying that we should install those drainage things that patients with collapsed lungs get on everybody preemptively.

Nice straw man argument you've got there. Have you even read my comments?

Nowhere have I advocated or condoned the circumcision of infants. That is something you have read into my words entirely on your own.

What part of, "Do I anywhere advocate male circumcision?", do you not understand?

For the last time, there are sound medical reasons why some men might be circumcised. There is absolutely no justification for female genital mutilation.

Please refrain from reading any more into this than is intended.

Anonymous said...

Well, you defend the practice. It's like Muslims saying that they don't like the circumcision of infants related to FGM. Obviously, for sound medical reasons, like recurrent balanoposthitis(I didn't hear of a case of this in my whole life, let alone a recurrent one and I've spent quite a while around doctors), it should be allowed, just like it's legal for a doctor to cut someone's foot if it's to save their life.

Oh, and doing a surgery to prevent something is doing a surgery preemptively. :)

Zenster said...

rebelliousvanilla: Well, you defend the practice.

One more time. Only as it is medically necessary. Capiche?

You are the only one who is going on about circumcising babies. Nowhere have I advocated or supported it. Got it?

Oh, and doing a surgery to prevent something is doing a surgery preemptively.

One last time. You are the only one who has brought up doing anything on a preemptive basis. Nowhere have I done this. The only reference I have made to the routine practice of male circumcision at birth is in a historical context along with speculation as to why it may have evolved into its modern form; Whereas FGM has no underlying historical substrate of even quasi-justifiable practice. In no way can that be interpreted as being supportive of the procedure on a routine basis. When you seemed to think otherwise, I immediately asked you, "Do I anywhere advocate male circumcision?" Is this clear?

My only distinction is that male circumcision, as a medical procedure has its place even today. Whereas, any positive mention of "female circumcision" has absolutely no place in civilized discussion.

It is of the utmost importance to abolish any acceptability of female genital mutilation. Not in a "ceremonial form", not as a slight nick to the clitoris, not as anything even remotely associated with crippling a woman's sexuality.

Even within this thread the term "female circumcision" has been used by others as a potentially acceptable alternative to the term of female genital mutilation and, again, it must be denounced at every turn as it camouflages a heinous practice that has no place in civilized society.

If we are now in agreement, it is not for want of trying on my part. In my very first post I noted how, "Both [practices] are undesirable but only one is so detestably heinous." I sought to clarify this understanding when I closed my subsequent comment with, "Male circumcision no longer has anywhere near the merit it may once have had." In case that had not been sufficiently clear, I then closed my very next reply with the request that you, "Please stop being so obstinate when the facts do not bear out your argument and we are, otherwise, in complete and already noted agreement."

Why you have elected to worry this topic like a nervous terrier with a squeaky toy is beyond me.