A Bad Compromise On Ritual Female Genital Mutiliation

Equality Now is protesting the compromise of The American Academy of Pediatrics on female genital mutilation:

The international human rights organization Equality Now is stunned by a new policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which essentially promotes female genital mutilation (FGM) and advocates for “federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick’,” such as pricking or minor incisions of girls’ clitorises. The Policy Statement “Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors“, issued by the AAP on April 26, 2010, is a significant set-back to the Academy’s own prior statements on the issue of FGM and is antithetical to decades of noteworthy advancement across Africa and around the world in combating this human rights violation against women and girls. It is ironic that the AAP issued its statement the very same day that Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) announced the introduction of new bipartisan legislation, The Girls Protection Act (H.R. 5137), to close the loophole in the federal law prohibiting FGM by making it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the U.S. out of the country for the purpose of FGM.FGM is a harmful traditional practice that involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia and is carried out across Africa, some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and by immigrants of practicing communities living around the world, including in Europe and the U.S.  It is estimated that up to 140 million women and girls around the world are affected by FGM.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated in 1997 that over 168,000 girls and women living in the U.S. have either been, or are at risk of being, subjected to FGM.

FGM is a form of gender-based violence and discrimination that is performed on girls to control their sexuality in womanhood, guarantee their acceptance into a particular community, and safeguard their virginity until marriage. Taina Bien-Aime, Equality Now’s Executive Director explains, “Encouraging pediatricians to perform FGM under the notion of ‘cultural sensitivity’ shows a shocking lack of understanding of a girl’s fundamental right to bodily integrity and equality. The AAP should promote awareness-raising within FGM-practicing immigrant communities about the harms of the practice, instead of endorsing an internationally recognized human rights violation against girls and women.

PZ Myers comments on this act of accommodation:

Nice bit of accommodationism there. “We’ll just mutilate baby girls a little bit, to make the misogynist patriarchal assholes happy.” Well, we have no obligation to make misogynist patriarchal assholes happy at all, especially not when it involves waving scalpels about in the genitals of children.

Andrew Sullivan considers this an act of barbarism:

What I find particularly troubling is the slow adoption of attitudes toward female genital mutilation that still adhere to male genital mutilation. FGM in its severest forms is far, far worse. But MGM is an indefensible denial of core human integrity and autonomy – and yet its widespread acceptance has helped make “female genital cutting” more acceptable. If men or women wish to mutilate their own genitals as adults, that it their choice. But forcing this onto infants, male and female, even if it is just a cut or a nick, is a form of barbarism.

Melissa McEwan debunks the idea that supporting a lesser amount of mutilation is a beneficial compromise:

And, despite the AAP’s claim that endorsing nicking will be a deterrent, Equality Now rightly notes that advocating a more minor version of the procedure will almost certainly mean that “mothers who have until now resisted community pressure and not subjected their daughters to FGM in the U.S., in part because of the anti-FGM law, could be forced under the AAP guidelines to ask pediatricians to ‘nick’ their daughters’ clitorises if it is legally permitted.”

They are actually robbing mothers, adult women who are under enormous pressure to visit upon their American daughters a trauma they could not avoid, of the best argument they’ve got in their arsenal if they want to shield and protect their daughters.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Leslie Parsley says:

    Words fail me in this year of 2010. Shame on the AAP.

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