This website seeks to provide a balanced perspective on the limited, prescribed religious practice of female circumcision.
The practice of female circumcision has long been clouded with misleading information and conflated with practices deemed to be mutilatory by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Unfortunately, the WHO has promoted the highly prejudicial term, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and applied it to a vast range of female genital alterations, from a prick of the prepuce to the complete removal of all female genitalia. This deliberate conflation of vastly different practices has promoted misinformation and misunderstanding to sensationalize or politicize the discussion. The term ‘FGM’ itself evokes a visceral response to all alterations, shutting down any debate. We contend that a mis-categorization of a religious practice, without accurate and objective information, is a rejection of universally shared values, and leads to violation of other human rights.
Female circumcision as discussed in this website is classified as type 1a (partial removal of the prepuce) or type 4 (pricking, nicking or scraping the prepuce) by the WHO. This website uses the term exclusively to apply to this procedure and nothing else.
Worldwide, anti-FGM activism has included an assault on the practice of female circumcision, to the point where supporters of this practice fear persecution for merely expressing their views. Criminalization of all forms of genital cutting has created a climate of fear that stifles open debate on this issue. This is not a healthy environment for productive and fair debate. Therefore, we seek to contribute additional information to the conversation so that it may be constructive and considerate of the rights of those that seek to uphold their religious values.
We invite readers of this website to consider objectively the information presented.
Note: This website is only concerned with the practice of female circumcision and not other forms of female genital alterations/surgeries/cutting. However, the debate around female circumcision is intermingled with the overarching debate on FGM/C and there is an overlap of issues. In engaging in these issues, this website does not express an opinion on other alterations.
Rather than a blanket ban on all types of female genital alterations, we advocate for lawful, culturally sensitive, reasoned, and dispassionate definition of and support for the prescribed and limited religious practice of female circumcision. We hold that female circumcision is an affirming procedure that has no indication of physical harm, and one that is vastly less invasive than the analogous procedure of male circumcision, which involves a complete removal of the male prepuce.
We ask the WHO to reconsider it’s position of conflating female circumcision with other forms of female genital alterations, de-criminalize it, and consider the benefits of medicalisation of the practice in line with male circumcision. We call upon the WHO to stop using the highly prejudicial and demeaning term of “mutilation” and revisit the label FGM for female circumcision. Our concern, like the WHO’s, is to ensure the safety of all girls, providing transparency in the practice of female circumcision and promoting unbiased research into this emotive subject.
Female genital surgeries worldwide should be addressed in a larger context of discussions of health promotion, parental and children’s rights, religious and cultural freedom, gender parity, debates on permissible cosmetic alterations of the body, and female empowerment issues.
Our calls for a tempered and respectful discussion of female circumcision as opposed to FGM have led to aggressive responses. When The Economist published work on the efficacy of zero tolerance of all forms of female genital cutting, the editor was called on to resign. There was an uproar against The New York Times for using the word “cutting” instead of “mutilation”. Even academics have received personal and professional threats for voicing opinions counter to the anti-FGM lobby, though the purpose of academia is to explore new avenues for development. Considering these unfortunate realities, the authors of this site have decided it would be prudent to remain anonymous.
If you would like to contribute to the discussion or provide feedback, please write to: Info@FemaleCircumcision.org.