Religion

Female Circumcision aka Genital Mutilation

Here’s a slideshow about “female circumcision“, courtesy of the New York Times.

Please excuse me for posting twice today, but this one is short and not for the faint of heart. To be honest, I skimmed over the pages in Infidel about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s genital mutilation and I am afraid to watch this slide show.

Female Circumcision Video


UPDATE: I wanted to add this note after reading the first few comments. It’s really disgusting. Ali’s grandmother did this to her when she was about 6 years old and her parents were out of town. She performed the surgery in the kitchen with no sanitation or any special medical equipment. Ali had to spend five days lying still with her legs tied together so there would be no tears in the scar tissue that formed. Some girls, Ali says, have their genitals totally demolished so when the area heals, there is just a smooth wall of scar tissue. In all cases, just a small hole remains open for urine to come out. The girls at school made fun of a classmate who had not been mutiliated, and they could tell because when she peed, she had a large stream of urine “like a man.” All this I gleaned from the parts I did read. I can’t even imagine the parts I skipped over with my hand covering my eyes.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

Related Articles

39 Comments

  1. If folks reading this blog want to get educated about or involved with efforts to end FGM, a good place to start is the website run by my partner: FGMnetwork.org.

    She's been working on this issue for many years now and is a good person of whom to ask question, get info, etc. Her website is probably the best online resource for getting info about the state of affairs related to FGM in the world today.

  2. Gah, that just sucked, to be honest. First of all, they keep referring to it simply as "circumcision," which is highly misleading at best. They don't give the viewer any idea of what the hell it actually entails, and they play it up to seem like it's not all that different from male circumcision.

  3. There are FGM cases in the UK, but rarely, if ever, prosecutions. So many boundaries to tread over. Cultural sensitivity, language, and so on. It's a fricking mess. Meanwhile, young girls are being mutilated. I don't think there are many more vital issues in today's society to address than this one.

  4. I could not believe this when I first heard about the practice some years back. I thought it had to be some exaggeration, or at worst a barbarism found in a very few primitive societies (as if that would have made it better).

    I am older, better informed and sadder now.

  5. Sometimes, I wish people would live by Aasimov's first law of robotics: a robot may not harm a human, or allow one to be harmed through inaction.

    It's bad when robots sound more human than the humans themselves.

  6. drakeman, I think you'll find the answer to that in Ali's book, Infidel. The entire culture is built upon women submitting, and continuing to submit for all their lives. And then in developed countries, cultural relativism gets out of hand and allow it to happen. Sad, and I hope that at some point very soon I'm able to help in some way to correct things.

    Mike, thanks for posting the link, I'll check it out.

  7. It's actually worse than what is done to most males. I only had my foreskin removed. THESE poor girls have their clitorises excised, and their vulvas cut out.

    That would be like removing most of the penis for a male.

    Fucking savage barbarians, and I would love to go "medieval" on their tackle without anesthetic.

  8. I can’t understand the human race’s obsession with carving up their kids’ genitals, usually without consent. It’s friggin WEIRD.

    My mother claims she insisted I be cut “so it would look more natural.” Thanks, mom. Idiot.

  9. Actually, the Indonesian variety of FGC is very mild, quite comparable to MGC – according to the story from which these pictures were taken.

    I do get tired of the argument that FGC is so much worse that we mustn't say anything against MGC. They're both human rights abuses, they're both painful, they're both unethical, they're both sexually damaging and they're both risky. One girl dies in Egypt and people take to to the streets with pictures of her, calling for a ban. Nearly 40 boys die in Eastern Cape Province each year and there's muttering about making it safer. It's a double standard. We need to unite against genital cutting.

  10. Savage and barbaric… Not that it’s paricularly nice to do it males, either… I’ll never understand how people can let this kind of crap happen. Humanity sickens me sometimes.

  11. I also get more creeped out by FGC. The thing I'm most concerned with about male circumcision is that in the US, it's still apparently routine.

    Unlike Hugh, I don't think it's clear that male circumcision is "sexually damaging". Certainly, there's almost no unbiassed non-anecdotal evidence for either side.

    But let me put it this way: If all FGC in the world was, say, hoodectomy, then our discussion of the topic would likely be very different. Personally, I would still condemn the routine application of unnecessary surgery. However, I'd probably be less likely to think of it as a human rights issue.

  12. dd: Even as a penis-owner, I still have to agree with you.

    However, I think we can all agree that it doesn't really matter which is "worse". At their absolute most benign, the procedures still expose babies to unnecessary health risks. There's simply no good reason for it.

    The only health benefit from male circumcision is a very slight decrease in AIDS transmission — but since that pales in comparison with the benefit from using condoms, that's no argument in favour of it. (And also I remember vague rumblings that the study which showed the effect couldn't be replicated… anybody else know?)

    And of course FGM offers nothing except harm.

    Neither of these things should be done to anyone, especially without consent.

  13. Little girls and lies, wanting to be like mothers.

    Allah’s little lambs, whole and holding steady.

    A misogynist’s faith not allowing a girls druthers.

    While Mengele’s maidens are armed and ready.

  14. Well, I suppose not wanting to have sex because it hurts like a MOTHER because you've been mutilated would tend to decrease the transmission of AIDS, among other things. Too bad a lot of women in the world don't have a choice about when or whom to have sexual relations with either. Sigh. Haven't really weighed in here because you all have excellent comments and really, the whole topic just upsets me too much to really feel eloquent about it.

  15. I agree that FGM is a horrid practice. I'd like to point out, however, that our oh-so-enlightened society practices a completely similar atrocity on our male babies. It's called "circumcision" and was apparently mandated by God (aka El, YWH, The LORD) about two thousand years ago. There's a great little story in the bible about how the Hebrews used it as a way to get back at Dinah's husband and all his family when she married him without permission of the patriarch.

    More to the point, male circumcision causes a great deal of loss of sensation and a completely unacceptable trauma to tiny little penises on a daily basis. It's also an easy $500 a pop for most hospitals.

    Personally, I think it's most likely causing a severe and epidemic psychological toll on our men. Imagine if your very first experience of a part of your body designed to cause you pleasure was one of excruciating pain. Now imagine it happened within hours of your being pushed from a warm, lovely place. Now imagine that experience being buried deep in the recesses of your brain, which still has about 21 years of growing and changing before it's completely developed.

    Just sayin'.

  16. The thing about male circumcision is that there are conflicting reports every few months as to whether it's beneficial or not.

    I'd be in favour of letting someone get old enough to decide for themselves whether to have it done or not.

  17. I’d be in favour of letting someone get old enough to decide for themselves whether to have it done or not.

    Sort of like letting kids get old enough to decide whether or not they want to be Baptised?

    There are two problems with this: (1) kids are still likely to be under the sway of their parents' belief systems until they're well out of the household (2) circumcision hurts a hell of a lot more if you do it when you're older. Or so I imagine. Who knows?

    Personally, in a completely unscientific way unworthy of the Skepchicks, I think it's a fucked up practice. Why on earth do we need to cut away part of our bodies in order to make them work better? A lot of the reports on the benefits of circumcision have to do with hygeine. Cunts have plenty of folds in them and little girls still manage to keep them clean and infection-free.

  18. I'm not saying one is worse than the other – that's going to have be a case-by-case comparison (though I'd venture a strong inclination to believe the most horrific cases are FAR more commonly against girls). I AM going to say that cutting on infants and children is an abhorrent practice. If an adult wants to do it, well, that's in the same category as any cosmetic surgery in my book, but that's not remotely the issue here. I don't care if it's a day-old newborn or a 13-year-old adolescent, it's still wrong.

  19. The most recent argument in favour of circumcision that I've heard was an ongoing study in Africa where it apparently helped to curb the spread of AIDS. Which doesn't have nearly as much to do with hygiene as some other arguments. Whether it's changed or not since that report, I'm not sure.

    In principle, I'm opposed to it too. I just have this tendency to occasionally play devil's advocate, and from what I hear, the jury's kinda still out in some circumstances.

  20. Personally, I think it’s most likely causing a severe and epidemic psychological toll on our men. Imagine if your very first experience of a part of your body designed to cause you pleasure was one of excruciating pain. Now imagine it happened within hours of your being pushed from a warm, lovely place. Now imagine that experience being buried deep in the recesses of your brain, which still has about 21 years of growing and changing before it’s completely developed.

    Explains a lot about the Jewish psyche, really.

  21. But how many of us actually have this “ritual” encoded into the natural life cycle? What happens when this trauma becomes embedded within an ethnic psyche?

    I have a lot of theories about this, most of which have to do with taboos about full frontal male nudity, strangely juxtaposed against larger-than-life phallic symbols (Washington Monument, Zakim Bridge in Boston). I also think that a violent experience of one's own genitalia makes it easier to perpetrate violence on others — like, say, women. But what do I know? I'm not a social scientist. I'm just a blogger.

    But it's like fish in water; most of us don't know we're wet.

  22. I’ve done a great deal of research into the matter.

    Then you know that you have no evidentiary basis to claim that it is "causing a severe and epidemic psychological toll on our men". Or, indeed, to claim that any 8-day-old memory is remembered to any degree.

    Yeah, I know, this is your unscientific opinion and you're willing to admit it. That's cool. But I respectfully submit that this sort of half-arsedness, which is what you get when there's an absence of real scientific data on the topic, is not a virtue. It's more like a "bullshit of the gaps", if you will.

    And yes, I agree with you that the routine application of non-medically-indicated surgery is wrong.

    On a side note, pretty much every other developed country (Israel is one exception; don't know about others) in the world has gotten the message. I submit this as further evidence for my thesis that the US doesn't understand public health.

  23. Then you know that you have no evidentiary basis to claim that it is “causing a severe and epidemic psychological toll on our men”. Or, indeed, to claim that any 8-day-old memory is remembered to any degree.

    Honey, you misunderstand the nature of my research or its findings. And if you don't know by now…

    I'm not willing to get into a flame war with you about this.

  24. Whoa! We haven't reached the "half-arsery" state of things. An hypothesis was proposed. Now we just look to see if it can be supported by any evidence. If yes, we go on to test it. Otherwise, we think up a new hypothesis.

    K?

  25. "Cunts have plenty of folds in them and little girls still manage to keep them clean and infection-free."

    false. I am 1000% against FGM, but girls (even little ones) can and do get vaginal infections from lack of hygiene.

  26. false. I am 1000% against FGM, but girls (even little ones) can and do get vaginal infections from lack of hygiene.

    Sure they can. It's possible to get infections anywhere on the body if we don't wash it often enough. But no one's suggesting that we cut off our ears instead of washing behind them.

  27. I’m not willing to get into a flame war with you about this.

    Me neither. So let's not do that.

    Whoa! We haven’t reached the “half-arsery” state of things. An hypothesis was proposed.

    Yeah, we have. Hypotheses are supposed to be developed because either a) there are observed facts which don't fit current theories, or b) there's a potential simpler explanation for current observed facts.

    Either way, you need some observed facts.

    Now we just look to see if it can be supported by any evidence. If yes, we go on to test it. Otherwise, we think up a new hypothesis.

    I'd love to see some coherent, unbiassed research on this topic, seeing as how there is essentially none right now.

    OTOH, I'd love it even more if the US just stopped routinely circumcising people, then the question would be moot.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy

Close
Close