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This is completely horrifying, and a huge step backwards for the human rights of women. The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new policy paper (warning, PDF) that endorses the changing of laws to allow a "ritual nick" or "pricking" of the genitals of little girls, simply to accommodate the wacky religious beliefs of misogynistic lunatics.

More below the fold.

NEW YORK, May 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- International human rights organization Equality Now is stunned by a new policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which essentially promotes female genital mutilation (FGM) and advocates for "federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a 'ritual nick'," such as pricking or minor incisions of girls' clitorises. The Policy Statement "Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors", issued by the AAP on April 26, 2010, is a significant set-back to the Academy's own prior statements on the issue of FGM and is antithetical to decades of noteworthy advancement across Africa and around the world in combating this human rights violation against women and girls. It is ironic that the AAP issued its statement the very same day that Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) announced the introduction of new bipartisan legislation, The Girls Protection Act (H.R. 5137), to close the loophole in the federal law prohibiting FGM by making it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the U.S. out of the country for the purpose of FGM.

All I can muster is a demoralized and exasperated what the fuck.

Seriously, the American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization of doctors who have devoted their lives to protecting and caring for our most vulnerable - children - have devised this capitulation to the forces of ignorance and cruelty. For what? Why?

Do they think that by compromising on this issue, that they will keep the monsters who want to do this to their children from running away to more extreme practitioners of this kind of torture? Do they think that by compromising and keeping the patriarchal, misogynistic assholes who want to do this to their baby girls "in the fold" they'll be able to "exert influence" on them to move these so-called parents in a  more humane direction?

I've got news for them. It won't work. It only serves to legitimize the entire concept of genital mutilation. There can be no compromise with these motherfuckers. The AAP can produce no empirical evidence that this "ritual nick" will protect these girls from further disfigurement at the hands of fundamentalist relatives. The perpetrators do this because they believe the clitoris is evil and will make women do evil things. This is a practice done to limit and control women's sexual feelings. That is the attitude that is at the heart of the problem, that some societies think it acceptable to root out women's sexuality at the physical source. This is what the AAP refuses to address.

Practitioners of this twisted "tradition" need to be smacked down with the sledgehammer of the law, not coddled and accommodated. Another horrific tradition that went on in India for centuries was stopped by the British with the threat of force. Not that the British occupation of India was a good thing overall, but widows used to be burnt alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Charles Napier put an end to that.

"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."

Apparently the AAP has anticipated some flak on this and is attempting to change the language of the debate in their favor (from the Policy PDF):

In addition, "mutilation" is an inflammatory term that tends to foreclose communication and that fails to respect the experience of the many women who have had their genitals altered and who do not perceive themselves as "mutilated." It is paradoxical to recommend "culturally sensitive counseling" while using culturally insensitive language. "Female genital cutting" is a neutral, descriptive term.

Inflammatory term? It is also a perfectly accurate description. The procedure has zero medical necessity. It causes immense pain and physical and psychological dysfunction. And the AAP is advocating that doctors be allowed to do it.

An excerpt from Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book, Infidel

I was next. Grandma swung her hand from side to side and said "Once this long kintir is removed you and your sister will be pure." From Grandma's words and gestures I gathered that this hideous kintir, my clitoris, would one day grow so long that it would swing sideways between my legs. She caught hold of me and gripped my upper body in the same position as she had put Mahad. Two other women held my legs apart. The man, who was probably an itinerant traditional circumciser from the blacksmith clan, picked up a pair of scissors. With the other hand, he caught hold of the place between my legs and started tweaking it, like Grandma milking a goat. "There it is, there is the kintir,: one of the the women said.

Then the scissors went down between my legs and the man cut off my inner labia and clitoris. I heard it, like a butcher snipping the fat off a piece of meat. A piercing pain shot up between my legs, indescribable, and I howled. Then came the sewing: the long, blunt needle clumsily pushed into my bleeding outer labia, my loud and anguished protests, Grandma's words of comfort and encouragement. "It's just this once in your life, Ayaan. Be brave, he's almost finished." When the sewing was finished, the man cut the thread off with his teeth. That is all I can recall of it.

But I do remember Haweya's bloodcurdling howls. Though she was the youngest - she was four, I five, Mahad six - Haweya must have struggled much more than Mahad and I did, or perhaps the women were exhausted after fighting us, and slipped, because the man made some bad cuts on Haweya's thighs. She carried the scars of them her whole life.

What can we do? We can let the AAP have it with both barrels, and be sure to visit the website of Equality Now, and make a donation.

P.S. - Please don't hijack this discussion with remarks equating male circumcision with FGM. It's irrelevant to this discussion, and in comparison to what victims of FGM have lost, male circumcision is fucking trivial. I say this as a male who has been circumsized.


For those claiming that this advocacy for altering U.S. law is not in the PDF, look at page 6, in the third column, halfway down the page:

It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm.

Please read these things more carefully before accusing me of lying.

Originally posted to Swampfoot on Thu May 06, 2010 at 11:09 PM PDT.

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