Friday, 1 February 2019

The Unkindest Cut

For the first time in the UK, someone has been found guilty of the genital mutilation of their daughter. Is it more shocking that it is mother who has been found guilty?

Doing a little research on the topic of FGM before writing this blog entry (and goodness knows what that's going to do for the ads I get shown now!), there are several reasons put forward for FGM, some of them suggesting that there are health benefits, but most commentators posit it as a means of controlling the girls in question, usually within a patriarchal society. There are different levels of mutilation, the most extreme of which effectively creates an external hymen, so that a potential husband can easily tell whether his bride is a virgin or not. (Putting a young girl through such pain so that a man many years later doesn't have to take her word for something - take it on faith - seems exceptionally cruel, especially when the cultural arguments usually cite religious reasons. Religion is all about taking things on faith without physical proof. But I digress.)

It seems bizarre to me that a mother would, having endured the pain of FGM herself, choose to inflict it on her own children. Perhaps it's hard to break with a cultural tradition, particularly in a tight-knit community, but that is a good argument for greater integration of people with different traditions into our society. Not all cultural practices are worth preserving.

And as for calling it 'female circumcision' as a means of normalising it, instead of using the word 'mutilation', that really just calls into question the whole business of male circumcision instead. But on a snowy day in the shires, that's a debate for another day.

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