Check Your Premises

From England:

It took a death threat to stop Abdi’s wife from circumcising their two daughters, aged 2 and 4. She called him from Somalia while on holiday to say she wanted to carry out the procedure.

Abdi, a London-based Somali, said that his wife’s eagerness to circumcise their daughters was fuelled by a combination of religious, cultural and tribal pressures placed on her after she took the girls to Somalia for a brief summer break last year.

But he refused to be swayed, despite his wife’s argument that the girls would improve their chances of attracting a good husband because they would be perceived as being more traditional and pure.

First, notice the third paragraph. I can’t and won’t begin a detailed analysis because it would be speculation, but the information there suggests that this reasoning is at most a difference of degree between this and what Western parents often choose for their sons. The focus is on how to make the child more attractive to a future partner, not what the child needs. Attempt to build a defense of infant male circumcision on the grounds of potential benefits, but ultimately this reasoning must make no distinction between those alleged-but-not-really medical reasons and the nonsense that what the child’s future sexual partners might want is relevant to what to do to his genitals. The whole notion is absurd.

Second, this one example proves nothing. However, it demonstrates that those who perpetuate the belief that female genital cutting is exclusively perpetuated by men are mistaken. At some point we have to lay down our agenda of blame and figure out how to stop these violations. I suspect the desire to blame is responsible for much of the inability to see the similarities between male and female genital cutting. Medically unnecessary genital cutting on a non-consenting person is unethical. That is a statement of principle free from the ramifications of gender-specific reasoning and outcomes. It considers only the victim. That’s what matters.