Yesterday’s post on this subject drew an interesting response from Robert Firth (with an e-mail, i.e. Singapore).  I thought I would elevate it to the level of a follow-on post.  Namely:

Point of information. The “sunnah” circumcision, as practiced by the majority of Moslems, is *exactly the same* for both boys and girls. It removes the same organ – the prepuce – in the same way. To prohibit one and allow the other seems to be completely unjustifiable. Boys and girls should have equal rights.

My response:

I wish it were that simple, but it is not. Having survived decades of feminist oppression in the United States, I am always yelling “equal rights for both sexes.” But that aside, the issue at hand is the practical effect of female circumcision which, unlike male circumcision, carries lifelong penalties in terms of functioning. Moreover, not to quibble or anything, there can be no such thing as an “exactly the same” intervention on two organs that are anatomically different. To translate this into “guy language” (whatever that is), trying to fix the carburetor makes sense on a gasoline engine but not on a steam one.

No. Here, I think, I have to hold with the girls.

Now, I’m not much of a medical practitioner, so further research and clarification is warranted.  Here is what the World Health Organization has to say, via Wikipedia:

The WHO has offered four classifications of FGM. The main three are Type I, removal of the clitoral hood, almost invariably accompanied by removal of the clitoris itself (clitoridectomy); Type II, removal of the clitoris and inner labia; and Type III (infibulation), removal of all or part of the inner and outer labia, and usually the clitoris, and the fusion of the wound, leaving a small hole for the passage of urine and menstrual blood—the fused wound is opened for intercourse and childbirth. Around 85 percent of women who undergo FGM experience Types I and II, and 15 percent Type III, though Type III is the most common procedure in several countries, including Sudan, Somalia, and Djibouti. Several miscellaneous acts are categorized as Type IV. These range from a symbolic pricking or piercing of the clitoris or labia, to cauterization of the clitoris, cutting into the vagina to widen it (gishiri cutting), and introducing corrosive substances to tighten it.

I don’t view the Wikipedia or international activist organizations as authoritative sources, but one can occasionally glean useful and straightforward data from them, like the above.

Absent authoritative input to the contrary from qualified physicians and anatomists (which I wish someone would provide), I say again: here, I think, I have to hold with the girls.


About Michael J. Kubat

I'm a grumpy Czech-born clinical social worker who is vitally interested in the survival in the United States as a viable democracy and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
This entry was posted in Europe, Islam, Judaism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Nick Stuart says:

    Forced physical abuse of children by multilation of their genitals is a barbaric practice and should quite rightly be banned. The National Health Service in the UK and those elsewhere in Europe have stated that there are no medical benefits. See Norm-uk dot org for the disadvantages and for stories of those who have been harmed. Finally this issue has become open for debate. From reading comments on newspapers, i.e The Guardian, and on Youtube, it would appear there is a massive condemnation of circumcision.

  2. Tony says:

    Male circumcision “carries lifelong penalties in terms of functioning”. Changing the form changes the function, even if there weren’t other consequences. These effects are not necessarily trivial to the individual who receives them. Many males view them as more than trivial. Parents can’t know what their healthy sons will value. The individual should retain his choice.

    You’re correct that the typical negative consequences for male circumcision are not as severe as those from the most common (i.e. extreme) forms of female genital mutilation. That’s not an argument for allowing the procedure on healthy male children. The difference should be in the punishment, not the permissibility. A rational society doesn’t allow a punch to the face just because a knife to the gut is more severe. Both can be wrong. They are. Non-therapeutic genital cutting on a non-consenting individual is unethical.

    The WHO Fact Sheet says FGM “comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” It also states that FGM “is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.” In the human rights-based principle, there is no difference. Both violate the same rights. Mr. Firth is correct.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s