Women's Rights

Female Genital Mutilation Remains Widespread in Many Countries

But attitudes are slowly shifting.

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The United States is in the midst of an election where allegations about mistreatment of women abound. But in parts of the world, women do not enjoy even the most basic of rights—let alone a shot at political leadership and power over their male counterparts. In some Middle Eastern, Central Asian and African countries, women are subjected to "honor killings," sex trafficking and slavery. Female genital mutilation belongs among the most serious violations of women's rights. In fact, as the World Health Organization explains, there are, four distinct types of FGM:

  • Removal of the clitoral hood, the skin around the clitoris, with partial or complete removal of the clitoris.
  • Removal of the labia minora, with partial or complete removal of the clitoris and the labia majora.
  • Removal of all or part of the labia minora and labia majora, and the stitching of a seal across the vagina, leaving a small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood.
  • Then there are miscellaneous acts of genital mutilation, including cauterization of the clitoris, cutting of the vagina, and introducing corrosive substances into the vagina to tighten it.

At Human Progress, we have just added new statistics relating to FGM. In the above mentioned parts of the world, FGM remains a serious problem, but there are signs of hope. In Egypt, for example, over 92 percent of women had undergone some form of FGM in 2014. That was lower than 97 percent in 1995, but still shocking. Furthermore, a 2014 survey by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population has "estimated that 56 percent of girls under 19 [years of age] were expected to undergo it [FGM] in the future." Other major culprits, including Kenya, Chad and Senegal, have seen similar declines in FGM—though the practice remains widespread.

Another positive development pertains to the increasing disapproval of FGM among its intended victims. In Kenya, for example, women's disapproval of FGM rose from 73 percent in 1998 to 93 percent in 2014. Even in Egypt, the share of women opposed to FGM rose from a paltry 13 percent in 1995 to 31 percent in 2014. Whether that disapproval will lead to the total elimination of FGM throughout the world will depend, among other things, on further empowerment of women, the evolution of political culture in more primitive societies, and the spread of information. For more data on gender equality, please visit www.humanprogress.org.

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  1. Is this meant to shame western women, because they don’t have it so bad, into not demanding equal pay, mandatory paid maternity leave, onsite free daycare and set quotas of upper management positions? Or shame me for kind of wondering if I’d be better off with my foreskin intact? I just can’t tell.

    1. I don’t think they thought that far ahead.

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    2. Evidence of actual patriarchal norms there is proof of patriarchal norms here.

    3. But, these countries all do have paid maternity leave and free daycare. Last I heard, the only country other than the US that doesn’t is Papua New Guinea.

  2. If only those governments had spent money combatting FGM instead of giving multimillion dollar birthday gifts to Bill Clinton and swapping cash for diplomatic bennies…but none of that is newsworthy here.

    1. Yeah, that was my first thought – I wonder how many millions some of these countries have given to Hillary and Bill.

    2. These parents have the religious freedom to cut their children. That is a fundamental human right.

      1. As a progressive, I oppose it adamantly and in all forms. Except lojacking and barcoding; then it should be mandatory.

      2. technically, it’s the mother’s fundamental right to choose to mutilate her children.

  3. This is why we need open borders immigration so the US can have this cultural diversity. This is just the price we must pay to get that great Kenyan cuisine.

    1. Hey, that Muslim didn’t realize that 10-year-old boy didn’t want to be ass-raped, so it’s all good. Because we really need more falafel stands, or something.

  4. And what’re all those little cut dicks, chopped liver?

    1. No, but if you collect enough foreskins, you can make a nice dinner with Hamburger Helper.

    2. That’s Okay because cutting the foreskin off a glans doesn’t have a female victim, therefore no one cares, whereas cutting the clitoral hood off of a clitoris affects womyn, therefore it is a serious issue of mutilation and needs to be stopped!!

      Plus, /Popular/ Religious Minorities practice the first one, and we can’t offend them by pointing out the barbarism of their practices, now can we??

      1. It is incredibly disingenuous to compare female and male circumcision. Yes they fall in the same category, of a sorts, but long-term affect and damage make them not comparable. At all.

        1. And yet both are violations of someone’s fundamental right to control their own body. You can talk about which is worse all you want, but it doesn’t matter in the slightest.

  5. Egypt, bastion of cultural modernity

  6. Quite judging the culture, racists!

    /prog

  7. The menfolk should start working on research showing it protects against HIV.

  8. Its a rough life but on the plus side at least they don’t have to make cakes for the gays.

  9. Erasing clits from cultures squalid is the macabre version of expression destruction.

  10. What is a foreign policy non-interventionist to do about this?

    1. Giant rocks hurl at us from space alleys and nothing can be done about their potential smacking us in the earth kisser, Mickey, but that shouldn’t negate astronomers from recognizing them for the thudding hells they are.

      1. So what you’re saying is we should send Bruce Willis to Egypt?

    2. Offer visas to pissed-off Egyptian women with engineering or bio-weapons training?

  11. Where’s Hermione when we need her? Just once I wish somebody would call her out with an article like this in an interview or a press conference.

  12. Male Genital Mutilation more prevalent of course. Attitudes so unshifting people see no need to write articles on it.

    1. maybe because it doesn’t have the extreme negative effects it has on women?

      1. Circumcision – cosmetic.

        FGM – not cosmetic.

        Perhaps the apples and oranges nature of the two procedures is why bundling them up in faux-equivalence as “genital mutilation” doesn’t have any traction?

        1. Since there are multiple forms of FGM, including simply removing the clitoral hood which has the exact same effects of male circumcision, perhaps you should advocate calling a good chunk of “FGM” cases “female circumcision” instead of “female genital mutilation” if you think that removing the protective outer skin of the glans/clitoris is purely cosmetic and not a big deal.

          While you still insist on calling cutting off a little girl’s clitoral hood “mutilation”, I don’t see why cutting off a little boy’s foreskin should not also be called “mutilation”. The type of FGM where they hack off a girl’s clitoris entirely has no male equivalent, but there are types of FGM that are clear, apples-to-apples comparisons of the practice of circumcision on males.

          1. The type of FGM where they hack off a girl’s clitoris entirely has no male equivalent, but there are types of FGM that are clear, apples-to-apples comparisons of the practice of circumcision on males.

            Your the one equivocating stitching someone’s foreskin shut with circumcision. Also, less apples-to-apples, more apples to bananas. Removing the foreskin causes fewer infections (in situations where infections are known/common), the female equivalent achieves no similar end and exposes more sensitive biological structures to more environmental pathogens.

            1. The EXACT equivalent of male circumcision, cutting off a girl’s clitoral hood and doing NOTHING more, is a practice that is widespread in certain areas of the world, AND IS CALLED FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION AND IS INCLUDED IN THESE SORTS OF STUDIES.

              If you think that that is “circumcision” and not “mutilation”, then bitch at the authors of such studies and change the definition, because APPARENTLY, you personally see NOTHING WRONG with a good portion of what is called “Female Genital Mutilation”.

              The PROBLEM is there are four distinct practices ALL LABELED AS FGM, INCLUDING one that is a DIRECT PARALLEL to MALE CIRCUMCISION. So if you think male circumcision IS NOT mutilation, you SHOULD be bitching at the people who label it’s DIRECT female equivalent with the title “FGM”.

              1. Your just equating the one FGM practice that exactly mirrors male circumcision to the three OTHER types of FGM that are more extreme. I’m not talking about sewing up foreskins!! But as long as chopping off a little girl’s clitoral hood and doing NOTHING else is “mutilation”, then chopping off a little boy’s foreskin and doing NOTHING else IS ALSO “mutilation”. And either way the practice is non-consensual and unnecessary.

            2. “Removing the foreskin causes fewer infections (in situations where infections are known/common)”

              Not in the modern 1st world where we have modern hygiene. The foreskin serves valuable functions in protecting the glans. It’s why the human species EVOLVED a foreskin in the first place!! So let’s end the practice in the first world, it has all the same problems as the female equivalent with NO BENEFIT that modern hygiene practices can’t also give you.

              Hacking off the body part of a non-consenting person when you could gain the same effect with BASIC HYGIENE isn’t justifiable in the modern Western world.

              1. The human species didn’t evolve the foreskin. Other animals evolved it long before us.

                Hacking off the body part of a non-consenting person when you could gain the same effect with BASIC HYGIENE isn’t justifiable in the modern Western world.

                Bullshit, we pierce ears, remove tonsils, adenoids, appendixes and perform all manner of other surgical intervention when simple hygiene would likely suffice.

                Moreover, you ignore my point. Penises and vaginas are fundamentally different biological structures. Removing the foreskin vs. removing the clitoral hood isn’t a 1:1 comparison. Not only is the procedure fundamentally different, the underlying biological structures are completely different. Exceedingly simplistically you could fathom how removing an 1 in. stripe of tissue from my thumb would be considerably different from removing 0.5 in. strip of tissue from my wrist let alone doing analogous procedures on more complicated organs.

                The only way you (re)establish male circumcision as a mutilating practice is if you hold some sacrosanct notion of a/the natural state of the penis.

                1. Exceedingly simplistically you could fathom how removing an 1 in. stripe of tissue from my thumb would be considerably different from removing 0.5 in. strip of tissue from my wrist let alone doing analogous procedures on more complicated organs.

                  Being clearer, both stripes being removed from around the circumference of the entire limb/digit.

                2. The only way you (re)establish male circumcision as a mutilating practice is if you hold some sacrosanct notion of a/the natural state of the penis.

                  The exact same could and has been said about female circumcision/genital mutilation. You can live a perfectly wonderful life without a clitoral hood, or even labia (ask all of the wealthy upperclass women paying tens of thousands of bucks for labiaplasty). You could use this boneheaded justification for literally any cosmetic surgery on a child. Since subjecting your children to cosmetic surgery to indulge your own superstitions is pretty fucking idiotic, we don’t tolerate it in any other regard.

                  Also, despite the difficulty we men sometimes have in the area, the actual biological structure of a clitoris isn’t remarkable and removal of the hood is a nearly perfect analogue for male circumcision. Appeal to the female mystique is poor argumentation and also unscientific. In your thumb vs wrist example, you’re really talking about something more along the lines of thumb vs middle toe.

                3. Bullshit, we pierce ears, remove tonsils, adenoids, appendixes and perform all manner of other surgical intervention when simple hygiene would likely suffice.

                  None of those except ear piercings are easily visible. You can tell a mutilated penis from one that was not mutilated. Ear piercings and those other things should be consensual as well, by the way; we should not alter/remove people’s body parts unless there is an imminent medical necessity or it is consensual.

                  Also, the ends don’t justify the means. The mere fact that you may be able to reduce future complications by mutilating a male’s penis doesn’t even remotely justify the practice. There’s no real debate here.

      2. There’s multiple forms of FGM. One common type, removing the clitoral hood, is practically the same as male circumcision. Male circumscision can suffer from complications and removes the natural protection offered to the glans resulting in irritation and keratinization.

        1. As an intact guy with intact sons, I would like to remind you that this is not a male circ discussion thread.

  13. And reaching new record highs in Europe and North America.

    1. It’s hard to get too hung out over this when all sorts of self mutilation are so common in the US .

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  15. An entire article on FGM, and the word “Islam” is not mentioned once. How you can work toward the elimination of a practice without ever addressing or acknowledging its social/cultural/religious roots is a mystery to me.

    1. Is it an Islamic thing though? I thought it had its roots in African culture that exists independent of Islamic influence.

      But I could be wrong.

    2. Mystical, superstition and anti-life are also missing, but clearly implicit.

    3. “An entire article on FGM, and the word ‘Islam’ is not mentioned once.”

      Because it’s a cultural practice that is carried out by Muslims, Christians, and practitioners of African traditional religions. If you want to focus purely on one religion cutting up little girls’ genitalia, feel free too, but don’t insist we all have to ignore the issue when Christians or other non-Muslims do this.

      1. Aside from Coptic Christians, which are a religious minority within a more broadly Islamic culture, I’m not aware of any Christian sect that practices female circumcision/genital mutilation. There’s certainly no theological suggestion for it.

  16. clearly, what America needs now is to import more people who believe and engage in this wonderful practice. DIVERSITY!

    1. Give it a few years and you will see FGM parlors opening up in SoHo and SF, and Cosmo will be extolling FGM as the new “must try before you die”.

      1. Give it a few years and you will see FGM parlors opening up in SoHo and SF, and Cosmo will be extolling FGM as the new “must try before you die”.

        It’s already estimated that between 20 and 60% of hysterectomies are unnecessary. After Angelia Jolie had her breasts removed, there was ‘considerable debate in the public sphere’ about whether women going out in droves and doing similarly was a good idea.

        1. When Angelina has her breasts removed, she’s just upgrading.

  17. Barefoot, pregnant, illiterate, bullied and mutilated… and Republican voter ID laws block Western-style atheist Jezebels from voting! Trump and God’s Own Prohibitionists are clearly running in the wrong country.

    1. I know you’re older than fuck, but even you never lived during a time when women couldn’t get an ID you stupid motherfucker.

  18. I’m sure the Amazon Battalions from Planned Parenthood will be on this in 10…9…8…7…

  19. Who are we to judge their culture? We should import more of these secular peace loving muslims into western society.

  20. “At Human Progress, ”

    Maybe you should call yourselves “Vagina Progress”, because you failed to mention Male Genital Mutilation once.

    Or has your group simply decided that Men aren’t human?

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