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Female Genital Mutilation or Genital Cutting - Page 2 - Djembefola - Djembe Forum

Discuss culture and traditions
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By e2c
Part I:

From http://unibadan.humanists.net/female_ge ... lation.htm , some Nigerian perspectives on FGM (all bolding is the author's; italics are mine):
Female Genital Mutilation: An African Humanist View

Peter Adegoke
(November 6, 2005)

An unmagnanimous life beset the African woman for all she stands for has been twisted into a thick chord of mishap and reverse by those who see themselves as the gate-keepers cum custodians of retrogressive practices decorated as traditions.

The feminine image is accursed by this inglorious life of servitude and sexual subjugation masquerading as culture and often labeled creeds by some who irrationally held on to such antihuman attitudes.

These occurrences may range from widowhood rites, inheritance marriage, exorcism for in African nearly all females are termed witch particularly by the paternalistic priestcraft of her religious institution with no thanks to the syncretism it has gone through with the advents of the duo of the Asiatic religions which also lent support to some of her superstitious ordinances. For the sake of this thesis I shall dwell on the barbaric act of nearly all the African nations - Female Genital Mutilation, FGM for short.

Every civilization without the exception of the current one has tried to restrict the liberty of women. Women are often treated with disdainful abandonment, she is seen as debased and merely treated as sexual objects by some of this so-called civilizations. In Nigeria and most African countries the female-being faces her travail right from birth, in some communities the birth of a female child is seen as a bad omen while that of a male child is celebrated week long.

The female child faces such depravity from childhood up till old age, woe betide her if her husband dies, she is made to wear dark clothings for some months in some communities, she is made to shave all the hair on her body including her pubic region. Some ladies will be asked to brink the bath-water of the corpse of her dead husband, she is forced to wail and in some cases mashed pepper is poured into her eyes to make her weep. Some ladies around the eastern region of Nigeria are asked to sleep with dead corpse the same extend to western Nigeria in some interior part of the coastal region of West Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In other not to digress from the subject of discourse I shall leave some of the female maltreatment for some other time when I shall write more on them later. As I go on writing on this subject, I feel saddened by this act of man’s inhumanity to man under the guise of tradition. Female Genital Mutilation must stop, I have no apology for concluding before laying down my premises, I think you also will do the same after reading this treatise.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO, M-1994) as “ all procedure which involve partial or total removal of the external genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs; whether for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reasons”.

Types of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

(1) Clitoridectomy: Removal of the prepuce or the hood of the clitoris and all or part of the clitoris itself. In Nigeria, this usually involves excision of only a part of the clitoris.

(2) Removal of the clitoris along with partial or total excision of the labia minora.

(3) Infibulation: it is the most severe form of Female Genital Mutilation, it involves the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and adjacent medial part of the labia majora, and the stitching of the vaginal opening, bearing an opening the size of a pin head to allow for the flow of urine and menstrual blood.

Other unclassified types recognized by WHO include introcision and gishiri cuts, pricking, piercing or incision of the clitoris and/or cutting of the vaginal (angrya cuts), stretching the clitoris and/or labia, cauterization, the introduction of corrosive substances and herbs in the vagina and other forms.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is practiced in about 28 African countries, as well as in a few scattered communities in other parts of the world. It is heavily concentrated in the Horn of Africa, Egypt and parts of West and East Africa, where it has long been a part of the traditional cultural practices of various ethnic groups. The highest prevalence rates are found in Somalia and Djibouti, where FGM is virtually universal. FGM is also widely practiced in Nigeria, which due to its large population has the highest absolute number of cases of FGM in the world, accounting for about one quarter of the estimated 115-130 million circumcised women worldwide.

The profit-driven economy of the world has reserve a pervasive role to the unfortunate women with all the so-called pageants, model shows, nightclubs, fashion parades, and child pornographies. Under the guise of liberalism, our mothers, sisters, daughters are been portrayed has mere sexual objects for the insatiable lusts of predatory bourgeois and salacious men.

It seems the african daughter is cursed from infantile, juvenile to senile stages; series of oppressive acts lurked her path. Throughout these periods the african girl experiences tumultuous and calamitous ordeals. In Nigeria alone according to Professor Olayiwola A. Erinosho, the Executive Secretary of the Social Science Academy of Nigeria and a professor of sociology, more than 32 million women have been genitally mutilated.

FGM in Nigeria is of a different dimension particularly in its approach and reasons marshaled in its supports by men and sometimes women of myopic intelligence. Among the Urhobos, women are circumcised and even pregnant uncircumcised women are made to pass through this ordeal in other to prevent the death of the baby because according to their prognostication, a baby will die if his head should touch the clitoris of her mother during childbirth. According to a report, the best places to be a mother are in the Scandinavian countries, which include Norway, Germany, Netherlands, and Finland, while the worst places to be a mother are in Sub-Saharan African countries which include Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo, Liberia and Sierra Leone etc. The Efiks believes that FGM or female circumcision is part of the rites of passage require of a woman before she could rightly be called a woman. The Yorubas are also not excused from this barbaric act as they also give flimsy reasons for their participatory role in this act of debasement of the feminine folk.

The subterranean behind FGM is to control the sexual pleasure of women so the male can have monopoly over their wives or what I termed sexual subjugation. The clitoris is often scrapped off while executing these unhealthy operations. I shall duplicate below the testimony of Mary Odeh from Calabar in Nigeria cited in Raza, “Myths of Female Circumcision”, M-2001:

“ In my village circumcision for the girls take place every ten years for three years in a row. The families would wait and prepare their girls to go through this tradition. It is announced in advance that all the girls from age 7 to 16 should be circumcised in this period of three years. I was preparing myself mentally for almost six years to go through this tradition. I knew it was extremely painful. I had many, many questions in my mind, but there was only one answer for me: this is a tradition and I have to do it.

“ I was told a day before that tomorrow at 6.00a.m. Mama Alice would come to circumcise me. I was 15 years old. My mother had already made some negotiations with Mama Alice. I am not sure how much money was paid to her, but the payment was made in installments. My sister Helen and I were circumcised on the same day. I think, it was cheaper for my mother to do it together. I was afraid and very sad. I begged my mother to excuse me.

“ My sister-in-law took me to the bathroom and gave me a wrapper to tie. Fresh red soil from the nearby river was brought. I rubbed the soil on my entire body. As my sister-in-law removed the wrapper, my mother came into the bathroom with my aunty and Mama Alice. Without losing time, one of them took hold of my two legs, another one my two hands and the third one sat on my chest with a firm hold on my head. I was so tight. I could not move at all and felt helpless. I started crying Mama Alice was ready with ‘special knife’ and she quickly cut me. I was screaming. It was very painful.

“ They returned back my wrapper. I was crying in pain. I was not given any medicine. I was bleeding badly. I was afraid of passing urine. It was too painful. After a few hours, I thought that years of fear, helplessness and pressure of respecting this tradition is over and I am out of it. I felt relieved and thought that at least in the future I can have my marriage dance for my people and get a lot of money!

“ I wish and hope that my daughter will not go through this pain!”

[Emphasis mine; “Children’s and Women’s Rights in Nigeria: A wake-up call: Situation Assessment and Analysis, 2001. UNICEF, Nigeria pg. 197.]

According to the same report above; Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has the highest prevalence in the South-South zone (77 percent among adult women), followed by the South East (68 per cent) and the South West (65 percent); Nigeria has a population of 150 million people with the women population of 52 per cent.

Despite Nigeria been signatory to resolutions at several conventions on human rights principal among whom is the Platform of Action, adopted by the Beijing Conference in 1995, called for the eradication of FGM, through the enactment and enforcement of legislation against its perpetrators.
Last edited by e2c on Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:48 am, edited 3 times in total.
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By e2c
Part II of Female Genital Mutilation: An African Humanist View, By Peter Adegoke
(November 6, 2005) [Link: http://unibadan.humanists.net/female_ge ... lation.htm]

Apart from this sexual degradation, poverty is responsible for this subversion of the females. The circumcision to keep them inactive and thereby yoked to one man as the slaves’ lips were padlocked in the American sugar plantations. Some men engages in illicit trade of Female Trafficking for prostitutions abroad in Italy and other European countries, girls are sold into marriage as promissory bride and some Fulanis and Hausas of Northern Nigeria use their daughters as collateral for loans. Young girls are used as domestic servants and according to one estimate, 90 percent of agricultural workers and 20 per cent in Lagos are women.

The practice of FGM is unhealthy and it has some dire consequences on the psychological and physiological well being of women and girls in Africa. I am stating as I have done earlier that FGM must stop. Efforts should be made at helping to eradicate poverty in Africa, it has been discovered by research that some of the people who trade on this fetish practice do so as a means of livelihood. If they have alternative means of earning their living they can be made to leave this harmful profession.

Laws should be enacted and strong efforts should be made at enforcing such laws to end this and other bad practices done against the dignity of African Women and other women the world over. Defaulters should be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others of his kind.

Campaigns, rallies, conferences, seminars should be held by government and non-governmental organization to sensitize Africans about the danger of FGM. FGM can lead to keloids formation, HIV and AIDS, psychological shock, pains, urinary problems and other health complications.

It must be stopped. No! To Female Genital Mutilation. No! To The Subjugations of African Mothers. No! To Female Abuse.

© Peter Adegoke is the founding president of the Ibadan University Humanist Society. He is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors.
Last edited by e2c on Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By e2c
From http://afrikanews.org/index.php?option= ... &Itemid=26:
Ngugi Comes Clear about 'Female Circumcision' in Africa
Written by administrator
By Evan Mwangi
Afrika News Books and Arts Editor
Jan 27, 2007

Kenyan writer and internationally acclaimed novelist Ngugi wa Thiong'o, best known for his 1986 dramatic abandonment of English language as a medium for African creative discourse, has clarified his view on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Ngugi, who teaches at the University of California, Irvine, appears ambivalent about FGM in his Anglophone novel The River Between (1965).

He has over the decades eschewed the controversial topic in his later novels whilist he revises other positions on gender and class.

Asked whether his trenchant advocacy for African cultural practices might encourage some African cults like Mungiki, a chauvinistic Gikuyu sect that champions female circumcision, to justify continued abuse of women's in the name of protecting African cultures under supposed threat from globalization, Ngugi explains that his novel does not support female circumcision.

Part of the novel's story is based on a conflict in the late 1920s between Western church missionaries and African traditionalists about FGM. The novel is critical of the missionaries' dogmatic position against precolonial African cultures, while at the same time it criticizes rigid traditionists. Open-ended, the novel seems to favor synthesis of cultures in which important African values are not erased by colonial modernity. For his failure to unequivocally criticise female circumcision despite his other activist projects, Ngugi has been seen to tacitly support FGM. But he told Nicholas Asego of The East African Standard: "When you read The River Between, Muthoni dies after undergoing female circumcision. This shows that this is not a good practice."

"We need to stop looking at culture from the colonial perception that it is static. Colonisers believed that African culture simply involved the wearing of a skin and not cloth," Ngugi said.

"Look at tourists, the picture they have of Africa is that of a lion and a Masaai moran herding his cattle. However, culture is dynamic and things are bound to change," the writer explained.

"One cannot say that African culture is walking and worshipping under trees (since we did not have buses to reach the places then). We must accept that culture changes, just as we have Maasai herding cattle we also have Maasai with degrees and wearing suits," the writer added.

"We have huts and skyscrapers also. This is what comprises our culture. Any group that operates on the past have missed the point," the writer declared.

(from http://www.eastandard.net/hm_news/news. ... 1143963855 )
Last edited by e2c on Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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By e2c
One more:
West Africa: Religious leaders denounce FGM

25/01/2006: In December 2005, West African religious and traditional leaders met with political officials and affirmed their commitment to eradicating female genital mutilation, saying that to abandon the practice is not to reject traditional or religious values. (Aviva)

We are in no way abandoning African culture when we abandon [female genital mutilation], Melegue Traore, traditional Chief and former President of Burkina Fasos National Assembly, told reporters on the opening day of a conference gathering politicians, health and human rights NGOs, religious experts and traditional leaders in the Senegalese capital.

The conference was organised by the Senegalese National Assembly and the African Parliamentary Union in cooperation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF). Parliamentarians from across Africa discussed ways to help end FGM, which is widely practiced despite national and international laws deeming it a violation of human rights and a threat to womens health.

Participants agreed that traditional and religious leaders are vital to changing communities attitudes toward FGM, which is held up by widespread belief that tradition or religion dictates the practice. Those working to eradicate FGM come up against views like that of Hadja Nene Yansane in the Guinean capital Conakry, who insists that FGM is required by religion and even morality. If a girl is not [cut], she could go into prostitution, Yansane said. Its a requirement in the Koran. Guinea has one of the highest levels of FGM prevalence in the region, with an estimated 99 per cent of females aged 15 to 49 cut, according to national health surveys. Abdoul Aziz Kebe, an expert in Islam, population and development, said at the Dakar conference that it is a misinterpretation of the Koran to say that it sanctions FGM.

Religious leaders at the conference pointed to text in the Koran that says: Any change to Gods creation is an atrocity inspired by the devil. While the practice appears to be declining in some countries, experts say, eradicating FGM requires constant and concerted action by governments, the international community and civil society. Traditional and religious leaders at the conference were encouraged by the final declaration, which calls them valued allies in the fight and urges awareness campaigns for traditional community leaders. The problem is we talk about it in our workshops and conferences, but we do not integrate it into our sermons and media programmes, largely because it is easier to simply lay down a moral law than engage in scientific explanations for barring FGM, Kebe said.

If not seen as a religious mandate, FGM has also been passed down in many societies as part of female initiation rituals - similar to circumcision as an initiation rite for boys. But experts at the conference said this is less the case than in the past and that FGM increasingly is performed on an individual basis, and the traditional initiation ceremonies do not always take place.

One of the biggest concerns for those fighting FGM is that with this trend away from collective ritual, and toward cutting girls individually, comes a medicalisation of the process - that is, more and more it is being done by health practitioners in hospital. In Guinea, a national NGO campaigning against female genital cutting recently warned government health officials of this trend, saying the danger is that some people believe that FGM performed in a hospital is somehow safe. The government took the message to medical professionals, and many stopped performing the procedure.

A new UNICEF report points out that WHO and the World Medical Association have condemned the participation of medical personnel in any kind of female genital cutting. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) says three million girls per year undergo some form of genital cutting, mainly in 28 countries of Africa and the Middle East.

SOURCE: IRIN News, 07/Dec/05
Last edited by e2c on Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By e2c
Sudanese blogger Kizzie on "FGM from an African, Muslim and Female point of view" (FGM is her wording, not mine):

http://wholeheartedly-sudaniya.blogspot ... emale.html

* Great comment and reply thread, btw....

- Journalist Stephen Ogongo calls for change - the 2nd comment below his piece is great (written by an African mother)

http://www.africa-news.eu/news/editoria ... girls.html
Last edited by e2c on Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By e2c
Trailer for "Africa Rising," an African-made documentary on FGM and the grassroots work of many to eliminate it -

http://www.africarisingthefilm.com/AFRI ... /HOME.html

* The film features women from Mali, Burkina Faso (the president's wife, Chantal Compaore), Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia.

* Directed by US filmmaker Paula Heredia. Two of the three executive producers are African - meaning that two Africans were involved in fund-raising for Heredia's project, planning of the film and more. To my mind, that's very significant.
In Mali, excision is legal, I believe, but my sense is that the occurrence of it is going down, especially in the urban areas.

I made friends with a midwife while I was there and next time hope to spend some time with her at her clinic. I know that this is a very delicate subject, especially for a westerner to bring up. I think once I get to know her better, I may be able to broach the subject... but I really agree that the only way to do that, as a visitor to her country, is to use language that is neutral. When I have discussed it with Malian friends, I used the word excision, which is how they refer to it. I think I have been able to learn a lot from folks by using their term for it.

(Am I still on topic, LOL?) I am not sure I understand the original question.

the malian government has pledged its commitment to phasing out the practice of fgc. this has not translated to any form of legislation yet, but that is expected to change.

spending time in a health clinic in a country such as mali should be a real eye opener.
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By e2c
My apologies to all - bubudi especially - for not allowing myself to cool down before posting some of my earlier replies. I chose to write in anger, which is never a good idea, and brought in some personal stuff that has nothing to do with the topic at hand... which was doubly wrong on my part. (I've deleted all of the off-topic parts of my posts.)

bubudi (and all), I think we really do agree on most things re. FGM (or FGC). To clarify a bit - when Africans in the D.C. area began speaking publicly about FGM (to the local press and other media outlets) they were very careful to be both honest and respectful in the way they discussed overall cultural things as well as their own experiences. There were no words of blame, only honesty and compassion. Some younger women actually talked about the difficulties various forms of FGM had caused in their sexual relationships. (Which is such a hard topic for anyone, anywhere, to speak about publicly!) I admire all of them - men and women alike - for their courage and their concern for others in their immigrant communities, elsewhere in the US, and at home in Africa. And I'm sure many of them have suffered rejection - even ostracism - for taking a stand and trying to help others.

To be honest, I've preferred to read and hear what African people have to say about this issue over the words of Westerners, who often do misinterpret and come across as Those Who Are Going to Straighten Out Those Other People. That approach *never* works anywhere, I think. (I have much the same reaction to people who get up in arms over Muslim women wearing hijab, full face veils, burkas, etc., but that's a whole other topic!)

And I agree completely that respect is crucial, as well as care with language - especially in direct personal communication, whether face-to-face or written.

That said, I also think there is a time and place for being candid about these procedures and the harm they cause. I guess my feelings about this have been very much shaped by the way the Africans I've mentioned above have approached the issues (as well as those in the vids I've posted). That would be more focused on child welfare and health care, as well as on women's health issues.

My thought is that one of the bottom lines is winning the hearts and minds of parents - moms *and* dads. Any caring parent wants only the best for their child, and those who have kids know that when a child is hurt or in pain, the parent bleeds inside. (Sometimes more than the child.) In watching some of the videos I've posted - "No Way Home" in particular (about the Nigerian family whose oldest child bled to death), I'm struck by how much both parents have gone through. The death of a child is a horrible thing, no matter what age they are - and I can see how it could even be harder (in somer respects) for dads than moms. I wonder if the father in that Nigerian family feels (or has ever felt) as if he failed to protect his daughter - and his wife. (Even though it's clearly not his fault - but the questions and feelings are there for everyone who loves their children, no matter how young or how adult they are.)

I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for the many parents who've gone through internal conflict over whether to have their children go through these procedures. It's so hard to go against the tide on issues like this, especially when you feel pressure from everyone around you (and maybe from your ancestors, too). So I definitely am not blaming or judging anyone for what they grew up with, for not fully understanding or recognizing the health issues involved, and especially not for having to make difficult decisions. I think people like Tante Madou (in the Guinea video) are very courageous, and that that is the way forward for most, if not all, people. (You can also see that in the Sierra Leone footage I posted, where people are working to help train women to earn money - even community respect - in other ways, and to hopefully do what Tante Madou is doing.)

On top of all that, I feel that it's very easy to judge someone else for what I (or we) perceive to be wrong in their lives, while utterly overlooking what's wrong with me/us. I think there are problems in the US that are every bit as painful - and in need of change - as all of the problems that so many Africans face. (Not to mention the fact that we have so much, while most people in the world have so little... in terms of basic healthcare, education and much more.)

So my thought is that Westerners - like me - who want to help African women and children would do well to work for and with Africans who are trying to change things. In fact, this whole thread has made me want to seek out opportunities to help... even if it's only via some kind of donation (for medical and educational things) for the moment. In that, I am trying to take my cues from a couple of friends who have gone to live in West Africa and done just that, working together with African colleagues. (All in health care.)

A final thought - I wonder if "cutting" is actually a less loaded word. For me, it's easier to refer to FGM, because "mutilation" describes the result. "Cutting" is a very visceral word (for me personally) in this context - because it describes what women and children actually undergo. (In my mind, when I think of the word "cutting," I feel as if someone is standing right in front of me with a razor blade or knife, in a situation like some of those acted out in the African videos.)

am not sure if any of this is helpful, or just me rambling....
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By e2c
Fwiw, I've been looking at articles by Richard Shweder, Fuambai Ahmadu and others whom I believe you were referencing, bubudi, as people who have written on the pro-FGM/C side.

While i agree with Ahmadu that rituals and coming of age ceremonies are important, I don't doubt that people not only can but might want to change the focus of current rituals.

i think Shweder is right in saying that Westerners have been imposing their views on people from Asia, Africa (et. al.) and that on the whole, that is wrong. But I find his "evidence" for the supposed lack of harm re. FGM/C to be very thin... as well as, in its own way, pretty biased. Shweder comes across to me as very biased, too, though he makes many claims to be free of prejudice.

It does not seem (so far, to me) that there's much in these folks' arguments re. acknowledging the child health and welfare issues, nor in their claims that women really are not harmed/damaged by these practices, especially the more drastic forms of FGM/C. There really *are* many documented health problems in ob/gyn literature, and (I would guess) in related literature on urology and other specializations. it seems to me personally that some of the pro-FGM/C advocates are trying too hard to either ignore or explain away all the things that Africans who are anti-FGM/C have to say about the practice, mainly by saying that they've been overly biased by Western ways of thinking. (Which is pretty ironic, though not - I guess - unlike what the current Nigerian ambassador to the Republic of Ireland is saying.) One thing that seems to be entirely lacking in their arguments are personal statements by those who have experienced problems, both small and large, as well as actual accounts of what it's like to go through any kind of FGM/C - from the point of view of the women and children involved.

it also strikes me as odd that there wouldn't be an acknowledgement of the many cases of asylum-seekers (in the US and Europe) in articles by these folks. I've barely scratched the surface of their work, but so far, it does seem (to my eyes, at least) that they are avoiding the subject entirely.

These are just my impressions, of course... nothing set in stone.

Edited to add: Someone (will have to re-check his name) who teaches at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has said that there's no more harm involved in FGM/C than there is in American frat boys being ritually branded, and that we would never refer to the latter as "maiming." Um.... I'm not sure where he's coming from on that, because I do think it *is* a real form of mutilation and have no understanding at all of why anyone would want to do that to themselves or others. (It's not practiced by all fraternities here in the US, and was kept pretty quiet until the late 80s-early 90s, when a number of fraternity members started talking openly about really severe hazing. The reason they spoke up is that some pledges died as a direct result of being severely beaten as part of their so-called "initiation." What was going on was illegal in the states where it happened, as far as I can recall, though I'd have to check... The beatings were referred to as "thunder and lightning," and involved multiple hard punches to the pledges' chests and backs, around the area of the heart. They were practiced by some fraternities that also did branding at that time.)

I guess that goes to show that pressure to join and belong can be so powerful that we can all make huge errors of judgement, even to the point of harming others and ourselves in the process. The guys who beat those pledges have to live with the consequences of what they did.... and how it affected the parents/families of the people who died.

Not exactly an easy thing for any person with an active conscience, I'd think.
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By e2c
There's an ongoing series of FGM/C discussions (pro and anti-) on this New York Times blog. There have been posts presenting Richard Shweder's views. This post is from members of the WHO (including several African MDs) in response to his critique of a specific medical publication (in The Lancet, from the UK) on FGM/C:

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/200 ... m/?apage=2

(Note: you might have to register with the NYT in order to read articles and blogs.)

More posts in the series:

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/200 ... fgm&st=cse

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/200 ... cumcision/

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/200 ... in-africa/

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/200 ... fgm&st=cse

* There are even more links (at the bottom of each NYT blog post as well as many links within most of the posts) - I probably have things all out of chronological order as is and figure anyone who wants to follow this series of discussions will want to read the articles, anyway... :)

One of the commenters, Rowan, says
When the thrust of a debate boils down to a heated argument about why the other side’s terminology is unacceptable, and the sides involved can’t even begin to discuss the larger issues because they’re so busy scoring points on semantics, I’m reminded of an old M*A*S*H episode in which Radar announces that after several weeks of tense negotiations and high casualty rates across the country, great success has been announced in the peace talks: they have agreed that the table they meet at to set the schedule for further talks will be round.

Absolutely, the use of words like ‘mutilation’ inflames the passions. Absolutely, the use of ‘circumcision’ downplays the traumatic element of the practice. But it saddens me greatly to see so much passion wrapped up in naming it that could be used to address the abuses and trauma of the current practice.
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