|—||Amnesty International’s Female Genital Mutilation: A Human Rights Pack|
"3 million girls are circumcised every year, and over 130 million women worldwide have been subjected to cutting or mutilation. Even if France publicly condemns this practice, thousands of girls remain at risk on the French territory.
February 6th is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Cutting.”
For a screening program to prevent female circumcision, the government should take the following steps:
- With the help of Amnesty International and the United Nations, draw up a list of high-risk countries.
- Establish a program of compulsory medical examinations for children from these countries.
- Make two lists: List A should contain the names of the girls who have already been subjected to mutilation, while List B should have the names of those who have not been harmed yet. Newborn girls are automatically added to List B.
- Girls on List A are offered medical and psychological support.
- Parents of girls on List B under eighteen are called up every year for a compulsory examination of their daughter.
- Newly arrived immigrants from high-risk countries are automatically called.
- The screening can be done by the local health service. If a girl on List B turns out to have been mutilated, this has to be reported to the Child Welfare Council, which will institute proceedings against the parents.
Yes, it can be viewed as discrimination. But in this case, I do believe the end justify the means. Groups’ rights are such an important cause to us left-wingers, but they should not stand in the way of universal human rights. In this case, refusing such a program under the pretense of “tolerance” of different religious cultures is racism. They would not allow it from daughters of the “majority”, but it should not be ignored for the daughters of “minorities” in the name of multiculturalism either. They are children, for fuck’s sake. I prefer to be a feminist fighting against this aberration of the rights of women and children than to allow innocent children to be mutilated because of our own brand of “tolerant racism.”
Now, I ask of you, fellow progressives who follow this blog, would you have voted in favour of such a program, even if it is “discriminatory” toward immigrants from high-risk of FGM countries, to save individuals’ dignity and stem the tide of this atrocious practice? Or do you believe the individual right to privacy outweighs the crime of female genital mutilation?
For my followers who may be wondering how come FGM is practised in Islamic societies even if it is not ordered to be done in the Qu’ran:
The importance given to virginity and an intact hymen in these societies is the reason why female circumcision still remains a very widespread practice despite a growing tendency, especially in urban Egypt, to do away with it as something outdated and harmful. Behind circumcision lies the belief that, by removing parts of girls’ external genitals organs, sexual desire is minimized. This permits a female who has reached the dangerous age of puberty and adolescence to protect her virginity, and therefore her honor, with greater ease. Chastity was imposed on male attendants in the female harem by castration which turned them into inoffensive eunuchs. Similarly female circumcision is meant to preserve the chastity of young girls by reducing their desire for sexual intercourse.
- Nawal El-Saadawi, a Muslim victim of infibulation
Genital Mutilation falls into the category of extremely serious crimes and has a substantial negative health impact — even a crippling effect — on the victim. Its consequences include: “shock, bleeding, abscess formation; and at a later stage, complications affecting the urinary tract, as well as labor and delivery; psychiatric, psychosomatic, and psychological effects for young girls… After the procedure girls can become introverted, reticent, withdrawn, and may show signs of behavioral disturbances such as eating disordes and phobias.” Genital mutilation can also “lead to posttraumatic stress disorder. For the girl experiences a sense of powerlessness, a lack of control, consent, and information, and suffers intense pain.”
Are there any openings in the law for the introduction of a screening program?
Article II of the Dutch constitution guarantees the inviolability of the individual’s human body. This article is the little brother of Article 10 of the constitution, which safeguards the individual’s right to personal privacy. Both articles matter for our proposal; in terms of international treaty law, they are the counterparts of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHM) and article 17 of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (signed in 1966.)
Yet Muslim reactionaries as well as other political parties and politically correct politicians who want to preserve genital mutilation argue against a screening program. Their sophistic contention is that a compulsory checkup for a young at-risk girl is a medical intervention that encroaches on the right to the inviolability of the individual’s (the girl’s) body and encroaches on the girl’s and the parents’ right to personal privacy.
The ECHM outlines in detail how and under what circumstances the government may lawfully breach the constitution. It is essential that there are enough compelling reasons for such a transgression, otherwise it becomes pointless to have a constitution. The ECHM lists a number of grounds on which the government has the right to breach the constitution. They are (freely translated): border security, public security, national economic welfare, the prevention of national disarray and penal offenses, the protection of health and moral standards, and the protection of individual rights.
In other words, a breach of the constitution can be justified if it prevents the occurrence of a crime (willful, grievous bodily harm). This exceptional ground seems the obvious argument on which to build our case. The ECHM offers the possibility of lawfully imposing medical treatment, provided it can be demonstrated that doing so is of vital importance in the prevention of crime.
Proportionality is one aspect of this “demonstrating it is of virtual importance.” Is the violation of individual rights outweighed by the importance of preventing the crime? In other words: does the end justify the means?
The legal debate about how best to combat genital mutilation centers on this question. I believe that without compulsory screening there is no effective way of preventing genital mutilation. Therefore, the program is a necessary step. Moreover, the constitution requires the government to take preventive measures in order to protect the integrity of the human body. It gives the government the duty to act.
My party and I are instructing the government to take steps that will prevent genital mutilation. Regarding the question of proportionality, an annual examination by a female nurse working for the local health authority is vastly preferable to allowing girls to be put at risk of serious mutilation. This legal argument far outweighs the main objections against medical examination.
Yet another sophistic legal objection against the introduction of a screening program is that it contradicts our constitution by singling out a specific group to be screened and not the entire Dutch population. These obstructionists argue that imposing a compulsory medical examination on a group of people from high risks countries is a form of discrimination.
Other antagonists argue that the intrusion of an annual screening test stigmatizes the parents and so also becomes a heavy burden for the child. These people do not think that the introduction of compulsory screening is proportional to the crime. Other antagonists illogically argue that there is no reason to suppose that somebody from a country with a high incidence of genital mutilation is automatically going to become involved in mutilation in the Netherlands — despite ample evidence to the contrary.
Excerpt of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s The Caged Virgin's chapter 12 on FGM. She was a politician for the Dutch parliament at the time of publishing. I will post the specifics of her screening proposal in another posts tonight.
In honour of one of the most pressing issues in international feminism, here are some critical facts about the issue:
- Migration has caused the practice to spread geographically. The European Parliament estimates 500,000 circumscised women live in the EU. The International Organization for Migration estimates a total of 100-140 million women and girls who are circumscised. Source.
- It is often carried out on young girls. Usually before the age of 15. Source.
- There are different versions of FGM, all of which can be fatal, and all of which do great harm and lead to severe health problems, including but not limited to problems urinating, having sex, and a higher risk of maternal mortality.
- Many times, FGM leads to the need for further surgery in order for sex and childbirth to occur.
- One of the leading voices against female genital mutilation, is Nawal el-Saadawi, an Egyptian feminist who has spoken out against the practice despite many efforts at silencing her. She herself went through the procedure at age 6. It was banned in Egypt in the 90’s and an even more comprehensive ban was passed in 2007. Check out her life and work.
- It is a method of gender oppression - one which perpetuates harmful ideals about female cleanliness and sexuality and causes serious health issues for women and girls, largely in Africa, but across the globe. There are no medical reasons for doing it, it is a method of cultural control. It is a domination of women’s bodies and a form of torture.
Thank you for participating in spreading the awareness :)
|—||Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Caged Virgin, Chapter 12, first paragraph.|