NYT glosses over FGM

As regular readers of this blog know, I have been posting about female genital mutilation (FGM) for a long time. My position is as follows:

I do not care whether this is a tribal, religious, and/or cultural tradition at all, the practice of female genital mutilation is a barbaric custom that must be stopped.

Yesterday for some (probably insane) reason I picked up the dead-tree edition of the New York Times and found that the magazine has an eight-page full-color article and spread on the barbaric practice, titled A Cutting Tradition
Inside a female-circumscision ceremony for young Muslim girls

The description by Sarah Corbett makes it sound like the girls were going for a pedicure (emphasis added):

When a girl is taken — usually by her mother — to a free circumcision event held each spring in Bandung, Indonesia, she is handed over to a small group of women who, swiftly and yet with apparent affection, cut off a small piece of her genitals. Sponsored by the Assalaam Foundation, an Islamic educational and social-services organization, circumcisions take place in a prayer center or an emptied-out elementary-school classroom where desks are pushed together and covered with sheets and a pillow to serve as makeshift beds. The procedure takes several minutes. There is little blood involved. Afterward, the girl’s genital area is swabbed with the antiseptic Betadine. She is then helped back into her underwear and returned to a waiting area, where she’s given a small, celebratory gift — some fruit or a donated piece of clothing — and offered a cup of milk for refreshment. She has now joined a quiet majority in Indonesia, where, according to a 2003 study by the Population Council, an international research group, 96 percent of families surveyed reported that their daughters had undergone some form of circumcision by the time they reached 14.

I was actually shaking with anger when I finished reading this.

For starters, it is not circumscision. It is mutilation. It doesn’t take much to mutilate a woman’s external genitals.

The procedure itself is designed to deprive a woman from enjoying her sexuality for as long as she lives and carries dire medical consequences.

My friend Phyllis Chesler was reading the NYT article, too, and has this to say, Exactly Who are the Barbarians? Female Genital Mutilation as Pictured in the West

What is a human rights atrocity with life-long and life-threatening consequences is here being presented as a “tradition,” often a harmless one, sometimes not, but always a well-intentioned one.

According to the article, there is “little blood involved” – well, how bad can that be? And, “antiseptic is used” – well, this is not dangerous at all, is it? Finally, afterwards, the child is given a “celebratory gift” – what, am I the kind of westerner who, Grinch-style, would deny the child her gift in order to make my twisted, “racist” argument? As the article states , the child clutching (or drinking) her gift “has now joined a quiet majority in Indonesia.”

These photographs were taken in 2006 on a day where 200 girls were genitally mutilated . In honor of the “prophet Mohammed’s birthday,” the Assalaam Foundation subsidized both the mutilation – and the “gift.” According to the Foundation’s chairman of social services, the cutting/mutilation will “stabilize her libido;” “make a woman look more beautiful in the eyes of her husband”; and “will balance her psychology.”

Because you know, those husbands wouldn’t want any hysteria getting in the way.

Ninety six percent of all Indonesian families have sliced their daughters’ clitorises right off.

No orgasms for you, you naughty, wicked hussy of a child.

In the article, an Italian physician who is also a World Health Organization official states: “To judge them (the female mutilators) “harsly is to isolate them. You cannot make change that way. These mothers believe they are doing something good for their children.”

The Indonesian “cutting” is presented as less severe, less “extreme” than African versions. Oh yeah? Then why does one photo show us a child in extraordinary pain. Yes, right there in the New York Times. The caption is: “A girl cries as she is circumcized.” Well, it’s like being vaccinated, right? And there is a second photo of a highly anxious child just before the mutilation. This one is captioned: “A girl is soothed by an attendant before her circumcision.”

The photographer has captured a live human rights atrocity in progress and we are seeing it in color with our morning coffee and croissants. Or bagels. Or muffins. Whatever.

Who exactly are the barbarians here? Those who genitally mutilate their daughters or those who deem the atrocity as something of a soft core “tradition” to be “enjoyed” at Sunday brunch?

Phyllis is unsparing in her indictement of the NYT’s puff piece. She also links to Dr. Andrew Bostom’s article, Clitoral Relativism—Female Genital Mutilation in “Tolerant” Islamic Indonesia where he quotes from the British Medical Journal

An August 1993 report in the British Medical Journal (abstracted here) on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) stated plainly, in its summary conclusions:
Female genital mutilation, also misleadingly known as female circumcision, is usually performed on girls ranging in from 1 week to puberty. Immediate physical complications include severe pain, shock, infection, bleeding, acute urinary infection, tetanus, and death. Long-term problems include chronic pain, difficulties with micturition [urination] and menstruation, pelvic infection leading to infertility, and prolonged and obstructed labor during childbirth.

Not surprisingly, FGM is outlawed in theUnited States and most Western countries, and there are concerted efforts to eradicate this barbaric practice, globally.

But just today, the barbarism of FGM is indeed referred to “misleadingly” as “circumcision” in a quintessential culturally (or if you prefer, clitorally) relative depiction by Sara Corbett published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine

My other friend Mary Madigan notices that Sara Corbett has a history of perverting the truth.

All the same, the NYT has now slipped from moral equivalence, dhimmitude and political correctness into embracing child abuse and mysogyny.

Update
Pushing the limits of cultural relativism: the lighter side of cannibalism

Update 2
Can’t Drive, But Hey! There’s a Strong Sense of Family

Unsurprisingly, todays co-called “feminist” blogs are awash with false outrage at meaningless trivialities, like Michigan Tech’s president implying that women should not be pressured into attending college if their ambition is not higher education, the societal implications of the new “skinny” offerings on the Starbucks menu, a Post-It ad, and some half-baked rant about Chris Matthew’s treatment of Hillary Clinton. There is nothing dealing head-on with the horrors women around the world are experiencing at the hands of real Patriarchal societies whose laws, practices, and yes, backward version of religion have established an inescapably oppressive construct that is now affecting a brand new generation.

It begs the question, of course: what is it that these women are afraid of? Is it so simple as a fear of the demon of multiculturalism, or a fear of being perceived as intolerant that leads them to do nothing more than pay lip service to the cruelty? Or is it something more? If this was such an innocuous practice, they certainly would not object to undergoing it themselves, but you would, rightfully, find none that would, so it cannot be that they believe this kind of thing is merely an artifact of a bygone era. Something must be preventing them from acknowledging a real cause for concern, a real plight of gender equality…something bigger.

It remains to be seen of course. Tomorrow, feminists across the country will celebrate a court decision that paved the way for international policies encouraging abortion as a legitimate reproductive right, which has in turn empowered countries to impose one-child policies, and for women in those countries to take advantage of international help to commit a genocide of the female gender — allowing nearly 60% of all female babies born in China and India to be killed.

So much for tolerance. Its time for a new idea.

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13 Responses to “NYT glosses over FGM”

  1. Nora Says:

    My goodness… I know what FGM is, I blogged some months ago about it. Terrible pain, NO doctor or hospital intervention, huge problems afterwards… If you read the book by Waris Dirie (I have not read it all, just a part of it), you will know that it is not only physical pain, it’s also the humiliation the girl suffers.

    But of course, that is not terribly important for NYT or any other multiculturalist idiot… :(

    A total shame but a reflection of what we have to fight without rest.

  2. Jeremayakovka Says:

    I’m not trying to be (excessively) difficult here, but I’d like to ask, “Why must it be stopped?”

    Surely this occurred for generations before 9/11. Where was the outrage and concern all the years up to then? Concern for stopping it has value, it seems to me, as part of a concerted effort to extirpate “creeping sharia” in historically Western nations.

    The only way it will be stopped here, there, or anywhere is when Muslims who want to modernize manage to brave down their own.

  3. Jeremayakovka Says:

    That said, the broads in the picture make Nurse Ratched look like Jessica Simpson.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Displaying photographs of little asian girls regarding FGM on the front page is akin to child pornography. I find the photographs grotesque, not just because of the terrible things done to the girls, but more because of NYT’s voyeuristic intent. Wouldn’t people complain of child exploitation if the image contained a crying white girl undergoing FGM? This is sick. I am surprised that people think the article is “wonderful.” Gee…speaking of retro-orientalism.

  5. Fausta Says:

    Jeremayakovka,
    “Why must it be stopped?” Because it’s a barbaric custom that denies women the right to their own sexuality.

    The only way it will be stopped here, there, or anywhere is when Muslims who want to modernize manage to brave down their own.
    Yes.

    Anon,
    Wouldn’t people complain of child exploitation if the image contained a crying white girl undergoing FGM?
    If it was performed by white women, or white men, yes.

  6. jonolan Says:

    OK, this is sick and disgusting. It’s what I’ve come to expect from the NYT. That rag hates America and everything that being American means. It’s no surprise to me that they tacitly condone FGM.

    If you want FGM to be stopped you’re going to have to convince the civilized world to send in its armies to stop it. The barbarous tribes that do these things do not respond to anything less than brutal armed force.

    Are you ready to call for that?

  7. Yid With Lid Says:

    Bravo to you for keeping exposing this disgusting practice. these Poor children

  8. Anonymous Says:

    The NY Times has committed a grave ethical lapse in this coverage.

    From IranAffairs.com:

    Despite what the NY Times asserts, FGM is in fact not a “Muslim” tradition. It has no actual religious basis. Rather, it is a social custom in some places, and predates the arrival of Islam. It is virtually unknown in the vast number of predominantly Muslims countries of the world.

    Indeed, of the places where FGM is widely practiced, the practice is not even limited to Muslims. As the US State Department says about Ethiopia, for example: These practices cross religious boundaries, including Christians, Muslims and Ethiopian Jews (Falashas).

    But of course you wouldn’t know that by reading the article in the NY Times which repeatedly invokes Islam and Muslims, without any concern for any of these facts.

    But apparently someone at the NY Times’ website caught this and decided to eliminate the over reference to “Muslim girls” in the headline. Now, I don’t have a problem with that. Fixing errors is the job of editors, after all. However, what I do have a problem with is the unethical way this was done. If the NY Times has made an error in the print version of the paper, especially one that taints an entire population of 2 billion Muslims as mutilators of the genitals of little girls, then the only ethical way to deal with it would be to formally publish a retraction that openly acknowledges the error – rather than quitely fixing the headline with the hopes that no one would notice.

  9. Nora Says:

    Anon: Just read this link:

    while many say that there is nothing in Islam which requires female circumcision, one of Sunni Islam’s “Four Great Imams,” Ahmad ibn Hanbal (from whom the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence takes its name) quotes Muhammed as saying: “Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.”

    Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University has called circumcision “a laudable practice that did honor to women.

    It is possible only a SUNNI tradition, not SHIITE. But doesn’t make it non-Islamic, does it? And Sunni Islam is much more spread than Shiite, so…

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Are you serious citing “Dhimmiwatch” as an authority? LOL!

    There are preachers in the US who espouse shooting abortion doctors. Does that make all Christians responsible for their views? Wasn’t Hitler a “Christian”? Talk about guilt by association!

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Incidentally, the Maasai in Africa also practice FGM – and they’re not Muslims. They are however Black. So I guess we can say all Black people are responsible for FGM? No? Then why are all Muslims accused similarly?

    Don’t use the suffering of the victims of FGM to promote your own Islamophobia.

  12. joated Says:

    Why hasn’t NOW come to the battle on this barbaric custom? This should be at or near the top of thier to-do list.

    Islamophobia? What a crock! Any group–white, black, brown, or red—that has this practice as part and parcel of their “culture” should be excised with extreme malice.

  13. Jeremayakovka Says:

    Because it’s a barbaric custom that denies women the right to their own sexuality.

    Yes, from (most of) the girls’ point of view, and from liberal Muslims’ point of view. What strikes me about your statement is its insistence that “we” (your immediate readers, Americans, Westerners) have a duty to abolish that practice. It’s an enormously large claim to make, and seems to me to deserve some consideration.

    For example, when the Union states finally fought to prevent Confederate secession, and to abolish slavery, that was an American institution other Americans opposed. When the US finally entered WWII to defeat fascism, it left not just intact but stronger than it had been before the Communist empire. That’s part of the awful legacy of WWII. All I’m trying to say is that lofty morality doesn’t necessarily translate into effects or even stated policy. I’m trying to distinguish between them.

    Here’s a question: if Osama bin Laden and other al-Q HVT’s were apprehended tomorrow in northern Pakistan, should the US begin “redeploying” its forces there? Or should it continue to fight to revolutionize Afghanistan? (Just asking.)