By Samhita - Feministing.com
Over the last few years there have been a handful of high profile cases that involved families attempting to practice female genital cutting in the Western world. These cases brought up not only the reality and danger of FGM without access to medical care, but also the difficulty of treating issues cross-culturally within the Western context raising the question at what point can and should legal and/or medical systems intervene and do they have the right to? International debates around the FGM verse female circumcision are complex and can not be reduced to right and wrong. However, it has been widely established in Western feminist doctrine and in Western medicine that for a variety of reasons FGM is a danger to young women's lives, health, future and self esteem. So why would AAP suggest a minor version of it as a compromise?
According to PR Newswire,
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.Most writing I have seen so far on this is, with good reason, outraged by the possibility of pediatricians being allowed to engage in a "ritual nick," suggesting that this is allowing a type of misogyny and patriarchy to enter our medical procedures. It is surprising to me as well, but I wonder if this is an attempt at harm reduction since many of these families won't go to the doctor if they know they will not be allowed to engage in the ritual.
On the other hand, mother's that have resisted the ritual, may be forced to have their daughters undergo it,
The AAP's proposition that pediatricians could offer to "nick" girls' genitalia is problematic and troubling. Advocates also fear that mothers who have until now resisted community pressure and not subjected their daughters to FGM in the U.S., in part because of the anti-FGM law, could be forced under the AAP guidelines to ask pediatricians to "nick" their daughters' clitorises if it is legally permitted. The AAP must revoke its statement, which comes at a time when several African and European countries have noted the increasing dangers of medicalization of FGM and specifically banned medical personnel from performing any form of FGM.Equality Now has several ways you can take action now.