Culture is one of the most sensitive aspects of people’s lives, particularly as it relates to sexual and reproductive behavior, attitudes, and norms. Therefore, when we talk about female circumcision (I still cannot call it mutilation), we should always look at this cultural practice as one of many good and bad things that happen to women universally, and not only to African women but women worldwide.
I am no expert in the analysis of “art.” But I know racism, class-ism, and misogyny when I see them, and they were no more visible this week than in Stockholm, Sweden.
While the UN is still celebrating International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, Tostan, a global rights and health organization, and others are enjoying “International Female Genital Cutting Abandonment Day.” The difference in phrasing is subtle, but the significance is huge.
FGM is often justified with direct reference to fixed gender roles, how women “should” be and the possibilities for financial security FGM supposedly affords. Breast augmentation surgery is carried out for similar reasons with similar risks and results. Both interventions have no discernible health benefits and have potentially negative impact on women’s sexual health, as well as a number of other potential serious health effects. How can we stop them?
A campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation has taken off in Senegal. What if, with the incredibly small sums of money needed by the United Nations campaign to fund these strategies across a continent, we could end FGM within the next ten to 15 years? Both UNICEF and UNFPA work to end FGM, though the GOP-led House of Representatives is seeking to eliminate funding for both.
Forced mutilation of some 120 young women and girls in Uganda last week has sparked a public debate inside the country about the limitations of a new law and the politics behind the practice.
Advocates are working strenuously to stop or limit the mass mutilation of up to 200 girls now underway in Uganda.
Kristof and WuDunn persuasively argue that fighting for women’s equality around the world, especially in developing countries, is the moral issue of our time.
Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter, a powerful new documentary produced and directed by Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, explores the tensions faced by a mother facing possible deportation and her fears that if she returns to her native Mali, her daughter will be forced to undergo female genital mutilation.
Is there a difference between female genital mutilation as a cultural practice in the Middle East and certain cosmetic surgery in the United States?