02/12/2007: "A Day to Remember"
February 6th is the International Day of Awareness Against Female Genital Mutilation (or Female Circumcision). The World Health Organisation describes the practise in its various forms here. This is something I first learned about many years ago; I think I've also had discussions about this with Road Rage when she was involved with Amnesty International. Unicef talks about the practise here. Basically, some cultures in the world practise several different kinds of 'female circumcision', which amounts to, in pretty much every case, a kind of genital mutilation. The practise is rooted in cultural tradition, and ranges from sewing shut the entire vaginal opening to the complete removal of the external portions of the clitoris. In some places, these practises used to be done without anaesthesia, much like the practise of circumcising boys as a rite of passage (many of these cultural circumcisions were done without anaesthesia as well. I can recall reading about the practise for both boys and girls, in books of fiction and historical fiction). As a result, many women are left without the capability to feel sexual pleasure, or are left with vaginal openings too small for intercourse, much less for childbirth; they are torn open.
Without getting in to discussions about gender politics and the rights of women over the rights of "everyone else", I just wanted to point out that this happens (a lot of people have never heard of female circumcision) and that if you're so inclined, there are a number of non-profit, non-government aid organisations working to change (or stop entirely) the practise.
On a completely unrelated note, Europeans are weird.
I am I am still outraged that this happens
2 Commentschad , on Monday, 12th February:
I researched and wrote a paper on the discourse surrounding FGM for a medical anthropology class. It's, um...
Anthropology has a spectre hanging over its past, what with early research contributing to not-so-nice stuff like "colonialism" and "eugenics." As the field grew and came to regret these indiscretions, anthropologists championed cultural relativism as a means for understanding a culture in its own terms. Such relativism is advertised early on in undergrad studies, and it's a means to understanding--for example--the place of human sacrifice in consecrating an Aztec pyramid. Anthropologists (at least the young ones) are really proud of this part of their toolbox, and take pleasure in annoying other social scientists in its application. In four (okay, maybe five) years of studying cultures past and present from around the world, no judgment was made as regards any practices, rituals, traditions, religions, or lifeways.
Save for FGM. FGM is abuse. It is subjugation. It is denial of an important aspect of existence. It is wrong. In this case, anthropologists (along with just about everyone else) agree that its practice needs to be stopped wherever it occurs (as cultures spread, it is more frequently occurring outside of Africa, including "First World" countries).
cenobyte , on Monday, 12th February:
Thanks, RastaChad. Have you checked out the Wikipedia entry on FGM yet? It's a little scary...