The push for separate rights based on gender has never been so obvious.
Ten U.N. agencies have launched a campaign to significantly reduce female circumcision by 2015 and eradicate the damaging practice within a generation.
In a statement released Wednesday, the agencies said female circumcision violates the rights of women and girls to health, protection and even life since the procedure sometimes results in death.
That is, of course, a noble goal. But how is
permitting encouraging male genital cutting any less worthy? (I’ll get to “health” in a moment.) Do boys not deserve the same respect? Does every boy facing the circumciser’s blade survive his ordeal?
“Today, we must stand and firmly oppose this practice because it clashes with our core universal values and constitutes a challenge to human dignity and health,” Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told the Commission on the Status of Women where the campaign was launched.
“The consequences of genital mutilation are unacceptable anywhere, anytime and by any moral and ethical standard,” she said. “Often, female genital mutilation is carried out on minors, violating the rights of a child to free and full consent on matters concerning her body and body functions.”
These agencies¹ argue that males don’t require human dignity. They argue that males don’t require their full, healthy bodies. They argue that moral and ethical standards do not fully apply to males. They ignore that unnecessary genital surgery is carried out on male minors. They reject the notion that a male child has an equal human right to free and full consent on matters concerning his body and body functions.
They defend this idiocy with the following note in the press release (pdf):
In contrast to female genital mutilation, male circumcision has significant health benefits that outweigh the very low risk of complications when performed by adequately-equipped and welltrained providers in hygienic settings Circumcision has been shown to lower men’s risk for HIV acquisition by about 60% (Auvert et al., 2005; Bailey et al., 2007; Gray et al., 2007) and is now recognized as an additional intervention to reduce infection in men in settings where there is a high prevalence of HIV (UNAIDS, 2007).
Significant is subjective. The missing word potential before “health benefits” is necessary, since most males have a healthy foreskin with no history of problems when they are circumcised². Very low is subjective. But the key word in that note is outweigh. Who is the appropriate person to evaluate the balance of those two sides? For example, who decides that the inherent risk of death is low enough? These agencies claim that every female must decide for herself from birth, but every male is subject to the decision of his parents until he reaches the age of majority. Females are assumed to be against medically unnecessary cutting until they state otherwise. Males are assumed to be indifferent, at worst, to medically unnecessary cutting until they state otherwise, when it’s too late because a portion of their genitals are already gone forever.
The ten agencies involved place political correctness before principle. They possess no moral or ethical credibility.
¹ The agencies are The Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS; the U.N. Development Program; the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa; the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; the U.N. Population Fund; the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights; the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR; the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF; the U.N. Development Fund for Women and the World Health Organization.
² This omission is damning to the intellectual integrity of the agencies.