Yesterday’s post on this subject drew an interesting response from Robert Firth (with an .edu.sg 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.
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.