News: Why Are American Doctors Mutilating Girls?
13 set 2010
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
"The Daily Beast"
Update: After only a month of criticism—including from Nomad author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, below—the American Academy of Pediatrics has reversed a policy that advised American doctors to give a ceremonial pinprick to girls of immigrant families so that they would avoid seeking a full circumcision.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently put forward a proposal on female genital mutilation. They would like that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls born into communities that practice female genital mutilation.
Female circumcision is a custom in many African and Asian countries whereby the genitals of a girl child are cut. There are roughly four procedures. First there is the ritual pinprick. This is what Pediatrics refers to as the “nick” option. To give you an idea of what that means, visualize a preteen girl held down by adults. Her clitoris is tweaked so that the circumcizer can hold it between her forefinger and her thumb. Then she takes a needle and pierces it using enough force for it to go into the peak of the clitoris. As soon as it bleeds, the parents and others attending the ceremony cheer, the girl is comforted and the celebrations follow.
There is a more sinister meaning to the word “nick” if you consider the fact that in some cases it means to cut off the peak of the clitoris. Proponents compare “nicking” to the ritual of boy circumcision. But in the case of the boys, it is the foreskin that is all or partly removed and not a part of the penis head. In the case of the girls, the clitoris is actually mutilated.
Then there is the second method whereby a substantial part of the clitoris is removed and the opening of the vagina is sewn together (infibulation). The third variation adds to this the removal of the inner labia.
Finally, there is a procedure whereby as much of the clitoris as possible is removed along with the inner and outer labia. Then the inner walls of the vagina are scraped until they bleed and are then bound with pins or thorns. The tissue on either side grows together, forming a thick scar. Two small openings roughly equal to the diameter of a matchstick are left for urination and menstruation respectively.
Often these operations are done without anesthesia and with tools such as sharp rocks, razor blades, knives or scissors depending on the location, family income, and education. It is thus more accurate as does the World Health Organization to speak of female genital mutilation (FGM) instead of the obscure and positive-sounding “circumcision.”
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, more than 130 million women and girls worldwide have undergone some form of female genital cutting.
Some of them sneak their daughters out of the country during the long school summer vacation so that they can be subjected to any one of these forms of FGM.
Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) recently introduced a bill to toughen federal laws by making it a crime to take a girl overseas to be circumcised. He argued, rightly, that FGM serves no medical purpose and is rightfully banned in the U.S.
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