Iraq

Female Genital Mutilation in Kurdistan

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The Washington Post has a disturbing story about the prevalence of female genital mutilation in Kurdistan: 

Sheelan Anwar Omer, a shy 7-year-old Kurdish girl, bounded into her neighbor's house with an ear-to-ear smile, looking for the party her mother had promised.

There was no celebration. Instead, a local woman quickly locked a rusty red door behind Sheelan, who looked bewildered when her mother ordered the girl to remove her underpants. Sheelan began to whimper, then tremble, while the women pushed apart her legs and a midwife raised a stainless-steel razor blade in the air. "I do this in the name of Allah!" she intoned….

"This is the practice of the Kurdish people for as long as anyone can remember," said the mother, Aisha Hameed, 30, a housewife in this ethnically mixed town about 100 miles north of Baghdad. "We don't know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it."

Kurdistan is the only known part of Iraq—and one of the few places in the world—where female circumcision is widespread. More than 60 percent of women in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq have been circumcised, according to a study conducted this year. In at least one Kurdish territory, 95 percent of women have undergone the practice, which human rights groups call female genital mutilation.

The practice, and the Kurdish parliament's refusal to outlaw it, highlight the plight of women in a region with a reputation for having a more progressive society than the rest of Iraq. Advocates for women point to the increasing frequency of honor killings against women and female self-immolations in Kurdistan this year as further evidence that women in the area still face significant obstacles, despite efforts to raise public awareness of circumcision and violence against women….

[Activist Pakshan] Zangana has been lobbying for a law in Kurdistan, a semiautonomous region with its own government, that would impose jail terms of up to 10 years on those who carry out or facilitate female circumcision. But the legislation has been stalled in parliament for nearly a year, because of what women's advocates believe is reluctance by senior Kurdish leaders to draw international public attention to the little-noticed tradition.

The Kurdish region's minister of human rights, Yousif Mohammad Aziz, said he didn't think the issue required action by parliament. "Not every small problem in the community has to have a law dealing with it," he said.

Read the whole thing here.

The history of female circumcision is complicated and only tangentially related to religion (it predated Islam, for instance, is not commanded by the Koran, and is banned in various Islamic societies).

In 2006, Reason asked, "Can freedom flower in Kurdistan?" and were guardedly optimistic that it could. But as long as scenes such as the one above are common, I'm thinking no way.

As readers of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's memoir, Infidel, can attest, among the most disturbing elements of such practices are the explicit urge to violently control female sexuality (even when the act is mostly symbolic, that's the function it performs) and the way it is enforced by other women. (Read Reason's interview with Hirsi Ali here). Say what you will about widespread male circumcision in the West (and elsewhere, for that matter), but it is not performed as a ritual of punishment defined to rigidify unequal standing in sexual, cultural, economic, and political matters.

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  1. LIBERTY! DEMOCRACY!

  2. explicit urge to violently control female sexuality (even when the act is mostly symbolic, that’s the function it performs)

    When it’s mostly symbolic, what part’s not symbolic? How is the symbolic part violent? It’s Christmas; please spare me a long read.

  3. Not every small problem in the community has to have a law dealing with it

    I agree with this. Not sure it applies in this case however.

  4. Circumcision really is a misnomer because unless I’m mistaken they actually remove (at a minimum) the entire clitoris, not the hood surrounding it. It would be more akin to having the head of the penis chopped off.

    Truly barbaric.

  5. We don’t know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it.

    I hate people.

  6. Sheelan Anwar Omer, a shy 7-year-old Kurdish girl, bounded into her neighbor’s house with an ear-to-ear smile, looking for the party her mother had promised. There was no celebration.

    That’s the most heartbreaking thing I’ve read in a long time. Horrible. I’ve said it before, but any country ending in -stan has a better than even chance of being backward, filthy and evil. But that’s ok, as the isolationists amongst us say it’s none of our business. Or rather, we should wring our hands over it, but never try to do anything about it.

  7. This entire subject is incredibly depressing.

    But that’s ok, as the isolationists amongst us say it’s none of our business. Or rather, we should wring our hands over it, but never try to do anything about it.

    And what would you have “us” do? Please detail your solution exactly for us.

  8. “But that’s ok, as the isolationists amongst us say it’s none of our business. Or rather, we should wring our hands over it, but never try to do anything about it.”

    Is opening our borders to oppressed people seeking a better life an acceptable answer?

  9. hey . (period-man) –
    I agree. We should go storming in there and shoot everyone. Maybe a couple of “hey, you’d better stop that or I’m going to bust someone’s ass here in a second” will help.

  10. Don’t forget: The US supports the Kurds because they are the most pro-US faction in Iraq. Isn’t interventionism awesome?

  11. Can’t remember the name of the Brit who, when told that burning the wives of a dead Indian at his funeral was a cultural tradition, replied that the Brits had a cultural tradition of their own, namely, hanging fellows who burned the wives of a dead Indian at his funeral.

    Seems an appropriate response here.

  12. Nah, forced mass sterilizations are the ticket.

    We need an aerial spray that permanently sterilizes anyone in it’s vicinity of deployment. Cover the whole middle east, problem solved in one generation.

    Yes, that’s sarcasm if you couldn’t tell.

  13. R C Dean, I believe you are referring to Sir William Charles Napier: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

  14. Why on earth would anyone want to marry a woman incapable of having an orgasm because their clit was chopped off? You’d think the men would shun such women.

  15. Err, the guy’s name was Charles James Napier …

  16. The US supports the Kurds because they are the most pro-US faction in Iraq. Isn’t interventionism awesome?

    Also, let’s not forget that only the Kurdish followers of Islam practice ritualized sexual mutilation, the rest of them (not supported by the US) are sane.

  17. prolefeed | December 29, 2008, 12:18pm | #
    Why on earth would anyone want to marry a woman incapable of having an orgasm because their clit was chopped off? You’d think the men would shun such women.

    I don’t imagine the men get much chance to comparison shop the genitalia of potential wives in Kurd Town.

    USA ! USA ! USA !

  18. prolefeed,

    Because this way women NEVER expect any sexual pleasure or satisfaction. They are just a hole/incubator for the man, nothing more.

    Can’t have their women know they suck in bed now can they?

  19. Sickening, terrifying, depressing.

    But that’s ok, as the isolationists amongst us say it’s none of our business. Or rather, we should wring our hands over it, but never try to do anything about it.

    Maybe we should invade this “Kurdistan” place, overthrow the government, install a friendly, pro-western one, and have a couple thousand troops occupy it for years.

    That would totally solve this and every other problem.

  20. Male circumcision is marginally less horrifying, but horrifying still.

  21. Juanita | April 16, 2008, 12:33pm | #

    He is right, and I am sure all the experts agree. It is not because of any material effect these laws promote, but the fact that they send the wrong message that drug abuse is OK. This no doubt makes it a good location for the pushers to go to.

  22. Ho-ly crap, did you know Kurdistan is in IRAQ?

    Now I need a Plan B.

  23. Can’t have their women know they suck in bed now can they?

    I have a feeling that having no respect for women and treating them like shit is already a pretty good indicator of sucking in bed.

  24. “But that’s ok, as the isolationists amongst us say it’s none of our business. Or rather, we should wring our hands over it, but never try to do anything about it.”

    Indeed, we need to invade Kurdistan and other places practicing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), or else people commenting on blogs will accuse us of isolationism!

    Of course, by this definition, America has been isolationist from 1776 until today. For over two centuries, we have labored under the isolationist assumption that a country’s tolerance of FGM is *not* a casus belli.

    If we are to find a culprit for this “isolationism,” I suppose we would have to single out our first President, George Washington, who set the precedent of not going to war with foreign countries on human-rights grounds. Did you know – Washington did not take America to war with either the Ottoman Empire – ruled by a cruel Sultan who oppressed his subjects (especially his Christian subjects), nor did he take America to war against the Russian Empire – ruled by a cruel Czar who oppressed his subjects (especially the serfs and the Jews). You think having your sexual organs mutilated is oppressive – try being a Russian serf, or a Christian in the Ottoman Empire!

    Yet not only did Washington refuse to take this country to war against the Ottomans or the Russians – he actually tried to justify his isolationism in his famous Farewell Address. I guess he just hated Christians, serfs and Jews.

    As to the merits of FGM – I don’t think Islam *requires* it, but it doesn’t seem to *forbid* it, either. Islam seems to go for a local-option approach.

    Contrast this with certain other religions, whose authoritative leaders actually issued fatwas against FGM and cognate practices:

    ’70. Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason. St. Thomas teaches this when inquiring whether human judges for the sake of preventing future evils can inflict punishment, he admits that the power indeed exists as regards certain other forms of evil, but justly and properly denies it as regards the maiming of the body. “No one who is guiltless may be punished by a human tribunal either by flogging to death, or mutilation, or by beating.”

    ’71. Furthermore, Christian doctrine establishes, and the light of human reason makes it most clear, that private individuals have no other power over the members of their bodies than that which pertains to their natural ends; and they are not free to destroy or mutilate their members, or in any other way render themselves unfit for their natural functions, except when no other provision can be made for the good of the whole body.’

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_31121930_casti-connubii_en.html

  25. Male circumcision is marginally less horrifying, but horrifying still.

    Marginally? They are not even in the same galaxy of “horror”, dude. Are you serious?

    Male circumcision has health benefits AND you get the bonus of not say, actually losing the ability to orgasm. But yeah, the horror…the horror!

  26. “Male circumcision has health benefits …”

    Really?

  27. But that’s ok, as the isolationists amongst us say it’s none of our business. Or rather, we should wring our hands over it, but never try to do anything about it.

    I never understood people who complain about female circumcision in other cultures but never think about male circumcision here at home. I wonder if those people would feel better if the little girls were mutilated in a hospital at birth or 8 days later at a Bris.

  28. If female circumcision was even remotely as benign as male circumcision, do you think we’d even be discussing it?

  29. Male circumcision has health benefits AND you get the bonus of not say, actually losing the ability to orgasm. But yeah, the horror…the horror!

    Actually, it is said that men who weren’t circumcised have better orgasms. The only real health benefit for male circumcision is keeping him from getting beat up in a locker room for looking “different.”

  30. Actually, it is said that men who weren’t circumcised have better orgasms.

    But there’s no empirical way of knowing that. So I stand by my assertion that that claim is just the uncircumcised guys’ way of trying to make circumcised guys feel bad. It’s just a mind game to try and make the “other team” feel inadequate and make themselves feel as though having an uncircumcised peen is somehow advantageous.

  31. Actually, it is said that men who weren’t circumcised have better orgasms.

    And this is known…how?

    I don’t think circumcisions should be done, as you’re removing part of a baby boy’s dick before he has a chance to decide what he wants. That being said, I have my doubts about it negatively affecting sex/orgasms. I get the impression that some circumcised guys are sitting there saying “so that’s why my sex life sucks–mom and dad had me circumcised!”

  32. stop, both of you. So-called “female circumcision” is anything but circumcision. It’s a deliberate equivocation of terms.

    The only real health benefit for male circumcision is keeping him from getting beat up in a locker room for looking “different.”

    Not true. From the CDC (PDF):

    A systematic review and meta-analysis that
    focused on male circumcision and heterosexual
    transmission of HIV in Africa was published in
    2000 [5]. It included 19 cross-sectional studies, 5 case-control studies, 3 cohort studies, and 1 partner study. A substantial protective effect of male circumcision on risk for HIV infection was noted, along with a reduced risk for genital ulcer disease.
    After adjustment for confounding factors in the
    population-based studies, the relative risk for HIV infection was 44% lower in circumcised men.

    I also do not have the numbers in front of me, but I distinctly remember that the entirety of penile cancer occurs in uncircumcised males.

    Actually, it is said that men who weren’t circumcised have better orgasms.

    And it’s said that circumcised males are less sensitive and can stave off orgasm longer, making them better sex partners.

  33. Everything that happens in a non-western culture is beautiful. Everything that happens in a western culture is oppressive. Get it? Western culture = evil and non-Western culture = beautiful. Understand?

  34. You’d think the men would shun such women.

    Not if they think of them as cattle. Which they do, as Islam commands.
    Peace be upon Mohammed, holy and just.

  35. Circumcision is the incorrect word, and the Washington Post did a disservice to use it. The correct term for the procedures done to girls in Kurdistan is female genital mutilation. It often involves removal of the clitoris.

    The article hilited a terrible problem but did it poorly; while the images were graphic and exploitative, the text was not informative. The Post humiliated a little girl in images, by ‘bearing witness’, complicitly, in a horrible moment of pain and loss. But they do not have the guts to call the act what it is ‘mutilation’ and they do not have the journalistic sense to tell us what is going on–excision of the clitoris.

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1700191,00.html

    http://www.stopfgmkurdistan.org/

  36. Also, let’s not forget that only the Kurdish followers of Islam practice ritualized sexual mutilation, the rest of them (not supported by the US) are sane.

    This practice is wide spread in African, non-muslim societies as well. Trying to connect this barbaric practice to Islam tells me that you have an axe to grind or you are just an ignorant fool.

  37. When it’s mostly symbolic, what part’s not symbolic?

    It’s symbolic because it doesn’t actually remove a woman’s ability to orgasm. Most of the clitoris is below the surface. It will of course reduce sensitivity, but it won’t prevent orgasm. It would be like cutting off the tip of the man’s glans to prevent masturbation: a horrendous amount of pain that won’t even result in the twisted goal. That’s why FGM is mostly symbolic.

  38. “Female circumcision” is an acceptable term.

    Because Wikipedia says so? Male circumcision does not prevent nor even hinder orgasm. FGM does; circumcision is a totally inappropriate term, regardless of the history.

  39. I shouldn’t get into this discussion but here goes anyway.

    Male circumcision lowers transmission risks of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV (see http://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/news/20070329/circumcision-new-weapon-against-aids ) as well as ballantitis and penile cancer. As the last two problems are extremely low risk in 1st world countries and we have condoms for the 1st problem it is likely that the risk/benefit ratio for circumcision (male) in the 20th century in developed countries favors NOT circumcising. That is definitely NOT the same as saying there is no medical benefit to male circumcision. Denying well supported evidence makes your argument weak especially when you’re wrong with added snark.

  40. The only real health benefit for male circumcision is keeping him from getting beat up in a locker room for looking “different.”

    YES! What movie was that in, again? Or was that on Dateline or something?

    Anyway, wtf? Since when would this ever happen outside of, say, the 1950s. What locker room do guys stand around and compare their junk?

  41. I think the mutilation of a child’s nether region is awful in the case of either sex. When my daughter gave birth to my grandson, she asked our (Dad & I) opinion on circumcision and we advised against it. She opted to do it anyway as is her right as parent. I’m certainly not trying to be an apologist for female genital mutilation; I’m simply pointing out the stones and glass houses.

    Here’s what the pediatric docs say about it though:

    “Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. In circumstances in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child’s current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child. To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information and be provided the opportunity to discuss this decision. If a decision for circumcision is made, procedural analgesia should be provided.”

  42. Cha,

    Consistency then demands that any surgical alteration of the human body for aesthetic purposes be termed “mutilation”.

  43. Male circumcision is marginally less horrifying, but horrifying still.

    I couldn’t walk for a year after I was circumcised.

  44. TAO,

    According to the wiki cite (and elsewhere) female circumcision does not necessarily “prevent orgasm”.

    That is irrelevant to my point that you can’t arbitrarily redefine words so that their meaning is more to your liking.

  45. I’m certainly not trying to be an apologist for female genital mutilation; I’m simply pointing out the stones and glass houses.

    I’m trying to tell you that they are so disanalogous that it borders on dishonest to claim that advocates of male circumcision have no room to be outraged about the out-and-out removal of the clitoris. That’s ridiculous.

    Consistency then demands that any surgical alteration of the human body for aesthetic purposes be termed “mutilation”.

    Uh, no. We have a term for removal of the foreskin of the penis. It’s called “circumcision”. Cutting the genitals of females is not an equivalent act, ergo, circumcision is not appropriate.

    Mutilate:

    1. To destroy beyond recognition.
    2. To render imperfect.
    3. To harm as to impair use.

    Note how all can apply to FGM and NONE apply to male circumcision.

  46. That is irrelevant to my point that you can’t arbitrarily redefine words so that their meaning is more to your liking.

    Circumcision means something, and that something does not apply to FGM. It is irrelevant to me whether “history” has called it FC, because that is a totally inappropriate term. One wonders why you’re so beholden to calling it that, though, SIV, given that it is so obviously wrong.

  47. I couldn’t walk for a year after I was circumcised.

    Took me a minute, scape, but nicely done.

  48. TAO,

    I think the French have some central committee that decides what words mean and what words are not allowed.I suggest you consider moving there.

  49. I think the French have some central committee that decides what words mean and what words are not allowed

    Awww, did I hurt your feelings? Regardless of that, you said that “female circumcision is an acceptable term” and I am laying out a case against that statement.

    You could always move to Canada and file a complaint with the CHRC.

  50. TAO,

    I didn’t tell you that “female genital mutilation” is an unacceptable term.It is the preferred one among those who oppose the practice.That does not make the “historical” and more morally neutral “female circumcision” incorrect.I have no idea what the Kurds call it

  51. I am trying to communicate to you that, whatever the historicity of that term, it is so inaccurate because it is a far cry from the truth of what occurs during the practice.

    The fact that you’re beholden to the so-called “morally neutral” term is illuminating, but irrelevant, because “female circumcision” as a term is not morally neutral, it’s use as a description is an active lie that cuts against the truth of the practice. Hence, it is an unacceptable term.

  52. “Male circumcision has health benefits …”

    Really?

    Yes.

  53. Fuck that bullshit.

    Any version of female genital cutting (even when it is limited to surgical removal of the clitoris and performed with anesthetic) is a serious human rights violation, if it is performed on a person who is not a fully informed consenting adult.

    “This is the practice of the Kurdish people for as long as anyone can remember,” said the mother, Aisha Hameed, 30, a housewife in this ethnically mixed town about 100 miles north of Baghdad. “We don’t know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it.”

    This is a good example of the backwards mindset of those who put tradition and authority before individual freedom. As for the “Islam requires it” argument, it doesn’t; but even if it did that shouldn’t matter.

    The Kurdish region’s minister of human rights, Yousif Mohammad Aziz, said he didn’t think the issue required action by parliament. “Not every small problem in the community has to have a law dealing with it,” he said.

    If it is an act that violates a person’s right
    to have control of his/her sexual organs, it should have a law against it.

  54. Female circumcision AKA female genital cutting or female genital mutilation

    And, TAO, I don’t find it dishonest at all to compare the two. There’s nothing in this particular piece that describes which form of female circumcision we’re talking about. Just because one procedure is culturally accepted here makes it no less barbaric. I really am interested to know if female circumcision would be more palatable if it were done at birth rather than at 7.

  55. I couldn’t walk for a year after I was circumcised.

    And was that horrifying? I mean was that a bug or a feature?

    I mean mine hurt, but I don’t know if it was overall good or bad. I never got to use it before, so I can’t really compare.

    TAO says there are health benefits. I’ll buy that as I really have no complaints.

  56. I was clipped as a baby and I harbor no anger towards my parents as a result. I had my own boy clipped as well, tho’ not in a Bris. In fact, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with the hygiene issues with having a foreskin.

    And yeah, comparing male circumcision to what is being practiced in *stan world isn’t even close. Not by a long shot.

  57. Trying to connect this barbaric practice to Islam tells me that you have an axe to grind

    You are correct, and I never said Islam is the only criminal philosophy concerned. Many of your African perpetrators are indeed Muslim, however. Not that barbarism is the monopoly of Africa, as I made clear in my “-stan” quip.

  58. BTW,

    I think that Female Genital Mutilation is against the rules of Islam.
    Just like tatoos.

    It is just overlooked by the Mullahs. Because of its cultural whatever.

  59. kwais –
    I believe scape was making a joke. You know how boys in the US are circumcized at birth? Yeah, see, they can’t walk…

  60. I would add that there is at least one “stan” where this practice is frowned upon: Tamikastan (a suberb of Atlanta).

  61. Hooray for multiculturalism! Open the borders!

  62. joe-

    OK, Kurdistan may be in Iraq, but perhaps Kurdistan is a hold-out region, refusing to acknowledge our overthrow of the old regime. Let’s check.

    (scampers away)

    OK, I’m back. It appears that Kurdistan is the most pro-US part of Iraq and was totally in favor of our invasion. In fact, we typically laud them as the peaceful, stable part of the country, the one with a real shot at freedom.

    Hmm….

  63. Hooray for cultural isolationism! Close the borders!

    No, seriously, Detroit is beseiged by FGM. Cuz a da Ay-rabs, doncha know.

    It’s a little known fact – when immigrants move here, neither they nor their children demonstrate the slightest degree of cultural adaptation; rather, as has always been the case throughout history, cultural transmission only moves from the smallest populations of refugees to the wealthier, more stable, much larger majority culture.

    Most people don’t realize this, because of the LiberalMedia, but it’s true.

  64. Here’s a history of male circumcision. It’s a wiki entry but have fun reading how closely it resembles female circumcision in culture and reasoning. A snippet for you:

    The 1st century Jewish author Philo Judaeus (20 BC-50 AD)[9] defended Jewish circumcision on several grounds, including health, cleanliness and fertility.[10] He also thought that circumcision should be done as early as possible as it would not be as likely to be done by someone’s own free will. He claimed that the foreskin prevented semen from reaching the vagina and so should be done as a way to increase the nation’s population. He also noted that circumcision should be performed as an effective means to reduce sexual pleasure: “The legislators thought good to dock the organ which ministers to such intercourse thus making circumcision the symbol of excision of excessive and superfluous pleasure.”[11]

    Yep, it’s all really different.

  65. BTW, I don’t know that the non-Muslim Kurds are much better. In 2007, there was a widely publicized stoning of a Yezidi teenage girl who was dating a Muslim. The Yezidis decided to stone her for dating outside their religion.

  66. Joe, it all depends on how good the country is at assimilating immigrants. I bet theres more FGM in France and Britain than Detroit.

  67. Oh, and what Mad Max said, until he went into the Catholic stuff anyway.

  68. Just because one procedure is culturally accepted here makes it no less barbaric.

    It’s not less barbaric because it’s practiced here, it’s less barbaric because removing a flap of skin is less barbaric than chopping off a clitoris and often parts of the labia as well (and that is the milder form of the traditional practice).

    There’s nothing in this particular piece that describes which form of female circumcision we’re talking about.

    Oh please, that’s disingenuous to the point of dishonesty (though I’m sure it’s just ignorance). The type traditionally practiced is not just removing the clitoral hood. Claiming it might be that in order to defend comparing the practice with male circumcision is embarrassing. Try reading your own link.

    And, TAO, I don’t find it dishonest at all to compare the two.

    As I suggested, perhaps it is not dishonesty but ignorance. There is a massive, unequivocal and clear difference between the traditional practices of female genital mutilation in parts of the world and removing a flap of skin. That doesn’t mean you can’t be against the latter as well, but to claim that it is in any way on the same moral level as what is done to these girls is indeed truly ignorant if not worse.

  69. Sigh. I suspected this would turn into a discussion largely of MALES, and… it did.

  70. The issue should be of consent and coercion and not the “barbarity” of the cultural practice.

    It wouldn’t be very libertarian to want to stop the practice of female circumcision if the girls were consenting adults now would it?
    And it wouldn’t be very cosmotarian to oppose it if the excision were conducted in utero(the tissue-host willing of course:)

  71. I really am interested to know if female circumcision would be more palatable if it were done at birth rather than at 7.

    No. The differences between male circumcision and FGM are so vast that I am growing tired of the attempts to make them equivalent.

    They aren’t. They never will be. This is not hard.

  72. Joe and Dr T,

    Yeah there Kurds are largely pro-American, and Kurdistan is the safe part of Iraq (the rest of it seems to be turning that way too though).

    And yes, it appears our allies are engaging in this barbaric activity, and probably other activities too.

    I see the end of this being the free press. I am hoping that new Iraq will have a free press, and in that free press they will be able to publicly discuss FGM, the killing of teenage non-virgins, and a whole host of other barbaric activities.

    I believe that when these things are discussed in the open in a free press, they will not stand.

    Just as Racism, Slavery, and systemic mysoginy didn’t stand in our society.

    People are people.

  73. I believe that when these things are discussed in the open in a free press, they will not stand.

    I think there’s a good chance that you’re right, kwais.

  74. BDB | December 29, 2008, 2:22pm | #

    Joe, it all depends on how good the country is at assimilating immigrants.

    I gotta say, WE’RE NUMBER ONE! WE’RE NUMBER ONE!

    You know what the trick is? We chill. We don’t make any great efforts to accomplish cultural assimilation, just structural/economic assimilation. You want to speak Urdu? Fine, have at it, just as long as you can pass the license test. Actually, you know what? We think it’s COOL for your kids to be bilingual. You wanna wear your long Sikh hair in a turban? You go on with your bad self, Hairy. Get ready for the yuppies to start condoizing the cheap apartment buildings so they can brag about living in a neighborhood with hookah bars or whatever the hell Sikhs are into.

    But guess what, chief: your kids are going to know all the words to the P-Diddy song anyway. Cuz that’s just how we roll.

    USA! USA!

  75. kwais,

    I am hoping that new Iraq will have a free press, and in that free press they will be able to publicly discuss FGM, the killing of teenage non-virgins, and a whole host of other barbaric activities.

    Inshallah.

  76. To toot my profession’s horn for a moment, there’s another factor that makes economic assimilation easier in the US:

    Anybody can try anything in our higher education system.

    A lot of countries have rigid tracking. Did you do poorly in high school? Sorry, you’re not on the college track. Returning to school later is hard. Here, a person from a foreign land can take English classes, then go to community college, then transfer up, and with good grades go as far as he or she wants to go in higher education. While it’s arguable that sometimes college is too easy or grades are too inflated or even that too many people are encouraged to go to college rather than doing something else, at least everybody gets to try. There are countries were it’s impossible if you aren’t on the track.

    Combine the flexibility of our higher education system with the ease of starting a business, plus the way that immigrants’ kids learn the rap lyrics despite their parents’ wishes, and it’s no surprise that we assimilate immigrants better than anyone else on earth.

  77. So I stand by my assertion that that claim is just the uncircumcised guys’ way of trying to make circumcised guys feel bad…

    I have a much more straight forward of making foreskin-deprived feel: a doctor, probably with your parent’s encouragement, cut off a significant part of your dick shortly after you were born!

  78. Bladedoc,

    So, infant penis reduction has been done for thousands of years as an HIV preventative? How prescient!

  79. I would like to point out that heart disease has been strongly linked to peridontal disease.

    Maybe we should just yank everybody’s teeth at 15 to prevent the odd heart attack at 60?

  80. To you ladies on this thread. I am not turning this into ‘a male issue’. I fully agree that FGM is horrendous. Those who practice it should be slapped in the head, and hard.

    I merely pointed out that ALL circumcision is dumb; the fact that male circumcision is widely practiced in the US makes it a more relevant problem to those of us in the US.

    To point out the tenuous possibility that a male circumcision has some “health benefits” is silly.

    I have two sons and a daughter; all three of them are whole, except for a few wisdom teeth.

  81. wayne – it’s not a tenuous possibility; it’s a proven fact. And did you see the rest of Bladedoc’s post, the one where he says that it does not make sense to have routine neonatal circumcision because we have other means of dealing with the risks that it mitigates?

    Guess not.

    cut off a significant part of your dick shortly after you were born!

    It’s not “significant” by any stretch of that word.

  82. the fact that male circumcision is widely practiced in the US makes it a more relevant problem to those of us in the US.

    Yeah, right….we are talking about routine barbarity and you happen to come along and talk about something totally unrelated.

    The “C” word is an opportunity for contrarians to pimp their contrarian cred.

  83. Don’t forget that sometimes after FGM they sew up the girl so that she has only 1 hole for both sex and urination. Talk about serious pain and infection that results–sometimes for a lifetime. I’m not sure how I feel about male circumcision, but those who have said that it doesn’t compare to FGM are correct. I’m sure accidents happen with male circumcision, but for the vast majority, I don’t think they have lifelong health issues as a result.

  84. It’s not “significant” by any stretch of that word.

    The foreskin is the largest part of the skin system of the penis. It covers and usually extends far beyond the glans before folding under itself to its circumferential point of attachment just behind the corona (the rim of the glans). The foreskin is, therefore, a double-layered organ. Its true length is twice the length of its external fold and comprises as much as 80 percent or more of the penile skin covering. In children, the foreskin often runs to impressive lengths, frequently representing over three quarters of the length of the penis.

    http://www.enotalone.com/article/3510.html

    I don’t think “significant” means what you think it means.

  85. TAO,

    I AGREE, yes AGREE that FGM is a barbarity! I fail to see how it is unrelated to our own (admittedly lesser) barbarity though. In both acts part of the primary genitalia are removed.

    A second delightful aspect of male circumcision that is not as widely known as it ought to be is that it is usually performed without anesthesia on infants. I am talking about doctors, in US hospitals performing circumcisions without anesthesia.

  86. So, infant penis reduction…

    Ah, we now get the crux of the matter: size matters.

    But the rub is that I can always go out and get a new, shiny and fast car to overcompensate, while you have to depend on a lump of skin.

    “Whaddya mean it *looked* bigger before?”

  87. The foreskin is, therefore, a double-layered organ. Its true length is twice the length of its external fold and comprises as much as 80 percent or more of the penile skin covering.

    80%! Think about that. Parents in the US routinely have 80% of their sons penis removed!

    Why not cut off the pinky finger of each infant’s left hand? That would ONLY be a 10% loss, and surely would result in a reduction in hand cancer, not to mention that it would make induction into the Yakusa more straight forward.

    I mean, it’s not as if million years of evolution has influenced the structure of the penis, or anything? All of that skin is simply a persistent mistake.

  88. JW,

    I have a shiny car AND a big crank :-).

  89. I don’t think it’s ignorant at all to point out the cultural and religious similarities between male and female circumcisions. I think it rude of you to say it is but this is a message board and the topic obviously brings about a visceral response from many.

    How about I leave you with this information to read and then we just agree to disagree.

  90. That last comment was for TAO. Sorry that I failed to quote the comments to which I replied.

  91. Why hath thou forsaken me?

  92. HI, BILLY MAYS HERE! DON’T YOU HATE IT WHEN YOUR CLIT IS CLIPPED OFF? INTRODUCING CLIT-RESTORE?, GUARANTEED TO GROW BACK EVEN THE MOST STUBBORN CLIT. MUSLIM? NO PROBLEM! CLIT-RESTORE? IS CLINICALLY PROVEN TO REGENERATE EVEN THE MOST RELIGIOUSLY ENTRENCHED CLITS, GUARANTEED! WATCH HOW THE PATENTED LOTION GENTLY SOOTHES THE CLITORAL FOLLICLE. IN NO TIME YOU HAVE A BRAND NEW SEX-BUTTON, GUARANTEED!

    Call 1-800-555-CLIT!
    That’s 1-800-555-CLIT!
    Operators are standing by.
    Please have your credit card ready and call 1-800-555-CLIT!
    That’s 1-800-555-CLIT!

    (Void where fatwa’d)

  93. joe | December 29, 2008, 1:32pm | #
    I couldn’t walk for a year after I was circumcised.

    Took me a minute

  94. Lol!!!!

    A minute, and BAM! Back in the saddle.

  95. Ed,

    good post. I snorted my tea onto the screen. Sure glad a well intentioned mutilator chose to spare my nose while I was an infant, else snorting would not be so enjoyable.

  96. I merely pointed out that ALL circumcision is dumb

    Paraphimosis is a great reason to get circumsized. That shit is nightmare worthy.

    FGM is terrible; hopefully the spread of amoralistic culture (go go internet!) will eventually make this a thing of the past.

  97. Never heard of paraphimosis till now. Still, it does not warrant prophylactic circumcision anymore than routine mastectomy to prevent breast cancer… still dumb!

  98. There is NO logical reason to routinely circumcise boys, or girls; ever.

  99. Paraphimosis is a great reason to get circumsized. That shit is nightmare worthy.

    Ack! I wikipedia’ed that; OUCH.

    I can understand people being opposed to male circumcision, that’s fine and all, but the bottom line is that my junk works just fine without a foreskin; the same cannot be said for the female who get “circumcized.” To hold the the 2 very different procedures as comperable in consequences is just nuts (no pun!).

    Any adult male circumcisees out there who can compare/contrast the before and after?

  100. JW,

    If you follow the link in Miche’s 5:36 post you will see that male and female circumcision are comparable.

  101. And by adult male, I mean someone who had the procedure as an adult…

  102. JW,

    My older brother was circumcised at age 21 while in the Army. We talked and laughed about the actual operation and Army medical care in general. We never talked about the before and after effects, but he seemed relatively normal afterward; he was crazy before the operation so maybe not a good data point.

  103. If you follow the link in Miche’s 5:36 post you will see that male and female circumcision are comparable.

    What do you mean by … ?

    Another problem is that the term female circumcision is vague, referring to any one or more of a number of surgical procedures. These have been defined by the World Health Organisation as follows:

    Female Genital Mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of female external genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reason.

    Classification

    Type 1: Excision of the prepuce with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris

    Type 2: Excision of the clitoris together with partial or total excision of the labia minora

    Type 3: Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation)

    Type 4: Unclassified (but may include):

    pricking, piercing or incision of the clitoris and/or labia;
    stretching of the clitoris and/or labia;
    cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissue;
    introcision;
    scraping (angurya cuts) or cutting (gishri cuts) of the vagina or surrounding tissue;
    introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina;
    any other procedure that falls under the definition of female genital mutilation given above.

    I’d say no, not comparable in the slightest. I lost a flap of fairly useless skin. I still have the important naughty bits and suffer *no* ill effects as a result of my circumcision. I also woudn’t regard you, with your extra inch or 2, as unclean and would allow you to prepare my food (assuming you washed your hands), nor shun you otherwise.

    Add to that I was too young to remember anything when it was done and the comparison falls apart even more, since it appears that many of the girls are 7+ years old when they have this far more radical procedure done to them.

  104. a type 1 female circumcision that leaves tghe clitoris intact seems comparable to the sort of circumcision you seem to have had, JW.

    A type 4 male circumcision, as described below, seems comparable to the most extreme female circumcision.

    Both procedures are idiotic.

    Type 4: This type consists in a slitting open of the urinary tube from the scrotum to the glans, creating in this way an opening that looks like the female vagina. Called subincision, this type of circumcision is still performed by the Australian aborigines.

  105. a type 1 female circumcision that leaves tghe clitoris intact seems comparable to the sort of circumcision you seem to have had, JW.

    Agreed, but it’s that “with or without” part is where the train leaves the station. I don’t know what the ratio of the #1’s are to the rest so it’s difficult to say if that type is common or rare and thus, how bad the situation really is. It’s interesting to note that the Arabs themsleves don’t do this procedure, muslim or not.

    Hwoever, the clitoris is also much more densly packed with nerves than the glans is, leaving it open to constant irritation, so I would imagine that it makes even the mildest of female procedures much worse than your typical male snip job.

    The aborginies are galactic-sized idiots for having such a practice, as are the Kurds and other cultures who practice the more extreme forms of FGM. Next!

  106. since it appears that many of the girls are 7+ years old when they have this far more radical procedure done to them.

    I agree that having this done at age 7 or greater is likely to leave these girls with nightmarish memories that they might not have were it done in infancy. But the pain of a male circumcision is certainly no more pleasant to an infant, and it certainly has to be suck-ass way to enter the world.

    Both procedures are grotesque and rooted in superstition.

  107. Here is a little peek inside our own homegrown, ritual sexual mutilation practices…

    Another perspective on the infant’s response to circumcision pain is provided by Marilyn Milos, who witnessed a circumcision during her training in nursing school:

    We students filed into the newborn nursery to find a baby strapped spread-eagle to a plastic board on a counter top across the room. He was struggling against his restraints-tugging, whimpering, and then crying helplessly. . . . I stroked his little head and spoke softly to him. He began to relax and was momentarily quiet. The silence was soon broken by a piercing scream-the baby’s reaction to having his foreskin pinched and crushed as the doctor attached the clamp to his penis. The shriek intensified when the doctor inserted an instrument between the foreskin and the glans (head of the penis), tearing the two structures apart. The baby started shaking his head back and forth-the only part of his body free to move-as the doctor used another clamp to crush the foreskin lengthwise, which he then cut. This made the opening of the foreskin large enough to insert a circumcision instrument, the device used to protect the glans from being severed during the surgery. The baby began to gasp and choke, breathless from his shrill continuous screams. . . . During the next stage of the surgery, the doctor crushed the foreskin against the circumcision instrument and then, finally, amputated it. The baby was limp, exhausted, spent.( 12)

    http://www.circumcision.org/response.htm

  108. @JW
    I’ve heard of anecdotal admissions by pornstars who have gotten cut for work related purposes saying that the loss of the foreskin resulted in a desensitized glans, probably because of the friction of clothing. No noticeable difference in orgasm. So basically, slightly better sex for you, or slightly better sex for her.

  109. Female Genital Mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of female external genitalia and/or injury to the female genital organs for cultural or any other non-therapeutic reason.
    …..

    Type 4: Unclassified (but may include):

    pricking, piercing or incision of the clitoris and/or labia

    Looks like the WHO definition includes body piercing in the USA as well.

  110. I apologize if I am on some sort of rant, but the more I read about circumcision (damn you, Google), the more outraged and horrified I become. If I were a doctor I would refuse to perform a routine circumcision.

  111. We students filed into the newborn nursery to find a baby strapped spread-eagle to a plastic board on a counter top across the room….

    Again, I don’t remember jack from when I was 10 months old, but I remember events from when I was 7 quite well. Other than the ring around the shaft, no scars, mental or otherwise.

    Did it hurt? I imagine it did, which is what I have to do: imagine it. I remember wiping out on my bike in 3rd or 4th grade, while riding down the street flat out, quite well.

    I apologize if I am on some sort of rant, but the more I read about circumcision (damn you, Google), the more outraged and horrified I become.

    Sure, beyond type 1 (male), it’s not pretty, if not downright gruesome. But that’s not what we’ve been talking about, at least I haven’t been and I doubt TAO was either.

  112. JW,

    I think all versions of circumcision are gruesome and barbaric. Frankly, I think it should be illegal to perform a circumcision on an infant without a legitimate medical reason. There is no legitimate reason to cut off a large part of a baby’s penis, or a small part of a baby’s vagina.

    After a personhood reaches adulthood, then it could be elective on their part.

  113. I apologize if I am on some sort of rant

    You’ve got quite the hard-on for the subject.

  114. After a personhood reaches adulthood, then it could be elective on their part.

    There’s some truth to that, but there is also the issue of the parents making decisions on behalf of the infant. There are many instances where the same could be said about waiting until adulthood (religion, education, morals, etc), but you have to draw the line somewhere. I draw it short of severe physical or mental harm. Cutting a flap of skin off the penis doesn’t cross that line; hollowing out a clitoris like a mellon ball of gutting the male jewels from sack to tip does.

    I respect your opinion and where it comes from, but I don’t agree with your take on normal male circumcisions.

  115. JW,

    I respect your opinion as well. If I were King, there would be no “routine” circumcisions on anybody that could not consent.

    This brings up an interesting question though: should grown women be allowed to elect to have a circumcision? Should they have to undergo psychiatric counseling before hand in the same way that people who yearn to be amputees are forced to undergo a psych work up?

  116. JI,

    Nice pun. A stiff jab, so to speak.

  117. JW,

    You asked about adult males who have undergone circumcision:

    http://www.circumcision.org/adults.htm

  118. are there really any medical benefits that override the harm of circumcision?

    http://www.circumcision.org/benefits.htm

  119. My last post about circumcision:

    To all of you surgically shortened guys: my condolences. Don’t do it to your sons or daughters.

  120. You wouldn’t understand.

  121. this is a sad, troubling story. not a whole lot we can do about what’s happening in kurdistan, but when they bring their honor killings and fgm over here, i say we should string them up.

  122. There are many initiatives in Iraqi-Kurdistan trying to fight this inhumane practise. And we managed to break a taboo and almost got a law against it. Abd we will fight until this law passes parliament and FGM will be history.
    For more information: http://www.stopfgmkurdistan.org

  123. I’m trying to understand how you can compare the removal of excess skin on the male penis to the removal of the female clitoris. A more precise comparison would be akin to removing the actual tip of the penis. How many people would say that is a BIG EFFing deal?

    So there is no comparison to FGM and western male circumcision other than the typical wussy’s we get for parents now days. We both agreed on circumcision for our baby boy. My husband had it done (infinitely more attractive to look at) when he was a baby and remembers absolutely nothing about it. Our son now 3 by all accounts has no trauma although watching it done was very not pleasant for my military pilot husband who was right there with his son.
    On the other extreme, FGM of that poor little Kurdish girl, is nothing but barbaric mutilation of no known medical justification. It is a sadistic sick ritual that mostly muslims in ME and African muslims carry out, OVER 96% of Egyptian women have had it done to them by their own admission even if it is outlawed there. They are overwhelmingly Muslim btw.
    It doesn’t matter where it began 1000 + yrs ago. Tribal Islam is nothing but a barbaric ritualistic culture that needs to be eradicated wherever and whenever encountered. Mainly by education but force if necessary.
    Its funny in the US when a Christian/white parent is caught abusing a child (in any way), there is no “Its a Cultural Thing” given as an excuse. The sick SOBs are penalized and the child removed. Sometimes just based on a rumor. But if its not Euro Centric White people committing these horrific acts on their children the gods of PC rear up and defend the uneducated barbaric acts as a proper cultural norm WE must allow, accept and endure. Is that screwed up or what? I know that not all muslims do this, my husband’s in Iraq and the article on the Kurd girl hit hard since we have a daughter getting that age. But still it seems that right now Muslim countries and peoples are the ones performing this sick, sadistic ritual on little girls. I mean how sick can you be to tell her that there is a party then forcibly mutilate your own daughter and say its all for Allah? A god cares if his little girls are without clits? Then again, since they are muslim they are not to be criticized in any way or they may get upset. I guess they at least haven’t strapped a bomb to the little girls, yet…

  124. I think Wayne’s main point is that it’s not your opinion about whether the skin is excess or the exposed glans of your 3 year old boy is more attractive to look at that matters. Your son’s opinion is the only one that matters in his circumcision. Most men who reach adulthood with their whole penis leave it whole, never considering cutting it off.

    My penis happens to be one of my favorite organs. I believe I would enjoy it better with 100% of the skin and 100% the nerve endings, instead of 20% of the skin and 40% of the nerve endings that my mom’s OB/Gyn left me with.

    My son is also three. He is not circumcised, and let me tell you, his foreskin is definitely the actual tip of his penis. I’m glad he still has it and will enjoy it for many years to come.

    If forced cutting on female genitals is a human rights abuse, forced cutting on male genitals is a human rights abuse.

    Perhaps you should read the post that brought me here. http://www.rollingdoughnut.com/2009/01/female_rights_violations_or_hu_1.html

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