As we approach the school summer holidays, spare a thought for the thousands of British girls who could be returning to school in September with a secret mutilation.
Police are gearing up with a campaign to raise awareness of the practice of FGM among British families, offering rewards for information leading to justice for the victims of this unspeakable practice. Some send their daughters abroad for the mutilation to be done where it is legal. Some do it illegally in this country. (Actually, it is also a crime under British law to send a person abroad for mutilation, for what that’s worth.) Either way, they do it in the summer holidays so that their daughters will have time to recuperate from their ordeal before school begins again after the summer break.
The police are anxious to distance themselves from any suggestion of an attack on the culture of those who practice FGM. It is not about attacking anyone’s culture, they say. It is about preventing horrendous child abuse.
That’s a pretty wet but pretty inevitable line of spin. I mean, if a person’s culture is child abuse, then by attacking the particular form of abuse they practice you most certainly are attacking their culture. And why shouldn’t you, if it results in the torture of innocents? “Culture” is no excuse for torture. None.
However, at least the police do not hold back from their characterisation of FGM as a wholly unjustifiable and horrendous act, albeit one given an air of legitimacy by repetition, generation after generation.
Not so the BBC.
In this article they do address the horrors of genital mutilation, the terrible and long lasting effects that can never be reversed. The audio for Julie Kelly’s report is absolutely on the money. (Please do not listen to this if you do not wish to hear the screams of a small girl undergoing FGM. I heard it twice, once on the radio news programme this was taken from and later on the edited report online. Each time I could not help but cover my head and face, and cry out, and physically twist inside. Even me and, as is well documented, I am a hardarse with nothing to trigger.)
But also, somehow, the BBC have found house room for Dr Munir Fawzi. Dr Fawzi claims, contrary to the findings of every UN or otherwise humane investigation or report, that FGM is sometimes beneficial for the woman, to the point of being “necessary” in preventing dangerous infections. In the full report, Dr Fawzi also claimed that FGM was required on religious grounds, at least to a limited extent – which is totally false.
Dr Fawzi is on the record as saying:
“Female circumcision is entrenched in Islamic life and teaching.”
“Our mothers, aunts and sisters have been doing this for years and no one was complaining.”
“I’m a university professor and I can decide whether a patient needs to be reduced* or not. I will do it for medical reasons,” [said with a smile, apparently] [* “reduced”??!! pokes eyes out with stick]
Fawzi is also responsible in part for the 1996 Egyptian ban on FGM being overturned by Egypt’s administrative courts, on the basis that it inappropriately restricted his practice. This is from PubMed:
“According to news reports, the court cited research purporting to show that failure to perform FGM harmed children, as well as quotes from Mohammed, which FGM advocates said endorsed the procedure under Islamic law… The suit against the ban had been filed by Sheik Youssef al-Badry, a conservative Islamic cleric, and Munir Fawzi, a Cairo gynecologist… Egypt’s highest Sunni Moslem authority contests the endorsement of FGM under Islamic law.”
Failure to do FGM harms children? Yes? The way failure to perform leg amputation harms children by putting them at risk of developing inflamed knees later in life? Egad. And Egypt’s highest Sunni Moslem authority isn’t the only one to contest Islam’s endorsement of FGM. Most Islamic leaders and scholars will tell you that the Islamic law in no way mandates FGM. In. No. Way. Not even a little bit.
So much for Dr Fawzi, to whom the BBC gave in this report not only a voice but the all-important last word. Do the BBC really think that there is any actual question over the harm done by FGM? Do they really think it appropriate to question this with apologists like this dirtbag Fawzi? Really?
And what else did the BBC give us on FGM today? How about a piece on Waris Dirie (victim turned supermodel turned anti-FGM activist) – entitled “My Mother Held Me Down“.
Never mind that Dirie goes to some lengths to say that she in no way blamed her mother, who had little choice but to obey, and directs her criticism at the men who perpetuate FGM, the men who her mother obeyed.
Never mind the wise words of activist and healthworker Comfort Momo who says (in the other BBC article linked above): “The men need to make a stand and start saying we’re happy to marry uncircumcised women.”
No, what we really need to know is that: “When Waris was five, her mother held her down on a rock while another woman cut off parts of her genitals with a razor blade.”
Because, God knows, it aint the men who do this. It’s the mothers who do it. The men are invisible, God love and bless them. Nobody talks about them. Because they’ve got it all worked out so they needn’t lift a finger. All they need to do is insist that they will only marry a mutilated woman, and women will mutilate themselves. That’s all it takes.
And this is the world we live in.