The United Nations is concerned:
More parents are turning to medical clinics to perform genital mutilation, wrongly assuming that it spares girls physical and psychological damage, a U.N. agency warned Monday.
The U.N. is specifically concerned about girls because it’s full of hypocrites. I’ve discussed that before, so no need to rehash it here. Yet, looking into its concern is informative. In this context, the United Nations is worried that parents are making female genital mutilation (FGM) more palatable by turning it into a clinical procedure. What the U.N. now fears for girls sounds painfully similar to the basic history behind the growing acceptance of male circumcision (MGM) in America. Physicians became the new priests. The technique improved, but the logic didn’t.
The practice leaves lasting physical and psychological scars, in addition to the risks it generates during childbirth, the U.N. Population Fund said.
The comparison between each procedure leaving physical scars should be obvious enough, although far too many people believe the circumcision scar(s) that remain on the penis are somehow normal. As for psychological scars, the only difference I can decipher is that female genital mutilation is often performed on girls old enough to understand what’s being done to them, whereas male genital mutilation in “civilized” countries occurs primarily on those too young to consciously remember the surgery. Many tout this aspect as a benefit.
Obaid also warned that in some nations parents were subjecting “younger and younger” girls to the practice to avoid refusals to participate. Girls generally undergo the rite before the age of 10, often without anesthesia.
If children remembering the surgery is what the U.N. is concerned with, it should cheer these parents for sparing their daughters the memory. Instead, the U.N. correctly gasps at such an obscene development. But why the disparity? Why should girls be protected, yet when the same fact pattern occurs in boys, it’s wise medical practice? In some parts of the world, males are not circumcised until they approach puberty. They’re old enough to remember the anticipatory buildup. Even then, when the comparison is particularly direct, the United Nations (and other organizations) never fail in remaining quiet. Why? I’ve argued before that basic human rights require more than a clean operating room and good intentions. Surely gender does not fall into that realm of more.
In related news, the Population Reference Bureau declared today the 4th International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Cutting (pdf), complete with a symposium. I don’t link this here to indict their work. I’m sure it’s useful and any effort to end medically-unnecessary genital cutting on unconsenting individuals will generally get my support. But the glaring omission that the other half of the population is equally at risk must be highlighted. At the symposium I attended in August, the organizers focused on non-consensual genital cutting. Boys and girls deserve equal protection from unnecessary surgery.