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Sat Oct 27, 2012, 12:32 PM

Activists say religion is key in combating female genital mutilation

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/activists-say-religion-is-key-in-combating-female-genital-mutilation/2012/10/26/62f5e2e0-1f9f-11e2-8817-41b9a7aaabc7_story.html

By Omar Sacirbey| Religion News Service, Published: October 26

BOSTON — The one thing that Afrah Farah will tell you about her genital cutting experience is that it happened. She doesn’t want to say how old she was, where it happened, or who was or wasn’t with her.

Yet, despite the painful memories that the experience evokes and her concerns about people’s reactions, Farah, said she knows she has to speak out.

“It’s basically a traumatizing experience. It’s traumatizing for every young girl that goes through that. It’s something that sticks in your memory, and physically,” said Farah, a Somali immigrant who came to the Boston area by way of Kuwait and Germany in 2007, and now works as a drug developer in a Massachusetts laboratory.

“There are millions of people who are affiliated with this procedure — parents, grandparents, people in the community — and to label them all as bad people or barbaric, that’s wrong. You will push them away. To solve a problem like this, you need to approach people with respect.”

more at link

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Arrow 35 replies Author Time Post
Reply Activists say religion is key in combating female genital mutilation (Original post)
cbayer Oct 2012 OP
cleanhippie Oct 2012 #1
okasha Oct 2012 #2
trotsky Oct 2012 #4
okasha Oct 2012 #8
trotsky Oct 2012 #9
okasha Nov 2012 #10
trotsky Nov 2012 #11
okasha Nov 2012 #12
trotsky Nov 2012 #13
okasha Nov 2012 #14
trotsky Nov 2012 #15
okasha Nov 2012 #16
trotsky Nov 2012 #17
trotsky Nov 2012 #24
Bradical79 Oct 2012 #7
trotsky Oct 2012 #3
Thats my opinion Oct 2012 #5
cbayer Oct 2012 #6
onager Nov 2012 #18
cbayer Nov 2012 #19
Fumesucker Nov 2012 #20
cbayer Nov 2012 #21
Goblinmonger Nov 2012 #23
okasha Nov 2012 #29
trotsky Nov 2012 #22
Tumbulu Nov 2012 #25
cbayer Nov 2012 #26
Tumbulu Nov 2012 #27
cbayer Nov 2012 #28
Tumbulu Nov 2012 #31
cbayer Nov 2012 #34
okasha Nov 2012 #30
Tumbulu Nov 2012 #32
okasha Nov 2012 #33
cbayer Nov 2012 #35

Response to cbayer (Original post)

Sat Oct 27, 2012, 01:09 PM

1. Since religion IS the reason for FGM, is this like fighting fire with fire?

I think reason should be used, not more religion, to fight this barbaric religious practice.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #1)

Tue Oct 30, 2012, 02:33 PM

2. Wrong.

FGM is a cultural, not a religious phenomenon. Where it is practiced, it is practiced across religious lines. The actual reason for FGM is that insures that no one but her male "owner" will have sexual access to the victim.

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Response to okasha (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 30, 2012, 02:49 PM

4. On other threads, it has been claimed by some believers that culture and religion are inseparable.

I guess they are, except when they aren't.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #4)

Wed Oct 31, 2012, 01:01 PM

8. True for some societies, such as Native American.

However, when you have a practice like this, which is practiced across multiple religious lines within a national culture (eg., Ethiopia, where Muslims, Jews and Christians all practice FGM) it's hard to invoke that argument.

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Response to okasha (Reply #8)

Wed Oct 31, 2012, 02:18 PM

9. Male circumcision fits your rule.

And stands out as a notable exception to your argument, since the reason for its existence is religious. Could be that FGM, like male circumcision, started as a purely religious practice (in a long-gone religion) but over time became adopted by people not in the religious group. Doesn't seem you have any justification to declare it's one and not the other - you don't know for sure.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 04:36 PM

10. Culture=religion

may apply in Israel or theocratic Western Asian societies, but it certainly doesn't fit a multi-cultural, multi-religious (and non-religious) society such as the US. My male relatives weren't circumcised for religious reasons but because it was considered a hygenic/health measure at the time.

By the way, there's no equivalence between FGM and male circumcision.

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Response to okasha (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 4, 2012, 11:18 AM

11. Culture = religion, except where you declare by fiat it isn't?

And by the way, I didn't say there was an equivalence in the act. What I did say, however, is that your arbitrary classification system puts male circumcision into the category of "practiced across multiple religious lines within a national culture." Yet its origins were clearly religious. Could very well be the same situation with FGM, you don't know!

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Response to trotsky (Reply #11)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 12:56 PM

12. Back to your usual fallback position.

Your little scripts are so predictable.

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Response to okasha (Reply #12)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 01:33 PM

13. It takes more than just declaring something to make it true, okasha.

Perhaps if you put forth actual substantive arguments, I wouldn't be able to use the same "scripts" to dismiss you every time. Support your claim - demonstrate how you know absolutely that FGM's origins had nothing at all to do with religion. Your argument to this point has been an observation that different religious traditions in the same culture practice it. I countered by pointing out that male circumcision fits that same observation - and yet we are reasonably sure it has a religious origin.

I await a convincing logical argument.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #13)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 02:12 PM

14. Something you might take to heart yourself, trotsky.

It's fairly clear that a "logical argument" is something you won't participate in.

Ta.

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Response to okasha (Reply #14)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 03:39 PM

15. So given the opportunity to present a logical argument for your position...

you launch a personal attack. I asked you, and you refused. With malice. Oh well, can't say I didn't try. Sorry that you have to react that way when your position is shown to be unsupported.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #15)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 04:12 PM

16. Just three more lines from your script.

N/T

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Response to okasha (Reply #16)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 04:20 PM

17. I can't help it that you choose to play the role you do.

Change the tone, okasha. Or continue with personal attacks. Your choice.

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Response to okasha (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 02:10 PM

24. cbayer has joined me in agreeing that you are the one who is wrong, okasha.

Please let us know when you admit your error! You might want to respond to her post #19 below.

Thank you!

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 31, 2012, 12:55 PM

7. Yes and no

It predates most current day religions, but religious reasons seem to be the common reason given for the practice. The argument here though is that using strong anti-religious language is completely ineffective in combating the problem.

I suppose the idea is that the sorts of people who condone this practice in today's world tend to not be too big on listening to reason from outsiders, so more progressive minded people of religious authority are more likely to make inroads on the problem. Kind of a religious Trojan horse I guess.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Oct 30, 2012, 02:45 PM

3. cbayer, you yourself have said that male circumcision is OK if done out of religious...

or cultural tradition. Do you have a different standard for this scenario?

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Oct 30, 2012, 07:32 PM

5. I need to break my silence about this one.

I'm off DU line until after the election---because that is where I'm putting my time. But this one caught my eye because I have first hand experience. A while ago I was in Kenya, and discovered that principally in the rural areas, FGM is ubiquitous. It has to do with male dominated tribal customs. In recent years there has developed a series of clinics and womens' literacy centers to combat this terrible practice. Thousands of young women have been spared this disgraceful indignity. These centers have been established by "Church World Service," which is a inter-denominational Christian organization with projects around the world. They are staffed by people of the various tribal communities.I would be interested in hearing about other groups--religious and non-religious-- working directly on this issue.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #5)

Tue Oct 30, 2012, 07:55 PM

6. You have probably seen it, but the 2 part Frontline documentary "Half the Sky" has

a very good section on FGM in Somailand.

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/half-the-sky/video/



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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 07:46 PM

18. Purely cultural, eh...

Let's hear from a woman named Suda, an Egyptian housekeeper interviewed in an oral history (cite below):

Every Muslim girl must be circumcised, of course, otherwise she would not be considered Muslim. Only Christian girls in our village are not circumcised.

(My Note - a Coptic Xian woman interviewed in the same book was circumcised, and says it was common among Egyptian Copts until the 1940's...unfortunately, when her oldest daughter was born. And was circumcised.)

I cried for a week before I was circumcised. I was twelve, but I knew what to expect from the time I was eight years old. I learned from the talk of the older girls...

When it came my turn...the midwife put flour on this thing (the clitoris) to keep it from slipping between her fingers. When she took hold of it I objected: "What are you doing, woman?"

She answered, "Don't you want to get married?" And then told the others to hold me. I cried and shouted, "What are you doing to me, you bitch? Did I tell you I wanted to get married? Leave me alone!"

She used a very sharp barber's razor. Then it was over. I felt nothing until she put alcohol on. Then it stung.

I cried and my mother said, "Have some lemonade. It will cool down the stinging." So I said, pointing to my head, "I drink lemonade from up here. What has that got to do with me down there?"

I've hated lemonade ever since.


From Khul-Khaal - Five Egyptian Women Tell Their Stories by Nayra Atiya and Andrea Rugh

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Response to onager (Reply #18)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 07:57 PM

19. Who has said it's purely cultural? I think the case being made is that it is both cultural

and religious, but not exclusively either.

Not all Muslim regions have FGM as part of their culture. Not all cultures that have FGM are Muslim.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #19)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 04:08 AM

20. I'm not aware of a largely atheist society that practices FGM

Or commonly practices MGM either for that matter.

Just the opposite in fact, the practitioners of FGM seem to be exclusively theist, albeit of somewhat different flavors of theism.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #20)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 09:10 AM

21. I'm not the expert here, but I do know that there are areas of Africa where this is a purely

tribal ritual. Whether one might make a soft connection to a religion, it would certainly not be a major religion and probably not even a theistic one.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #21)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 09:55 AM

23. To the outside observer and the non-privileged,

the line between "tribal ritual" and "religion" is a pretty blurry, hazy line.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 05:00 PM

29. There are plenty of ritual practices that aren't religous.

Birthday parties.

Standing when the judge enters the courtroom.

Men taking their hats off in a public dining place.

"Something old, something new; something borrowed, something blue."

"Christening" a ship. (Please don't make me have to explain that "christening" is used in a metaphorical sense here. You'll upset the Baptists who will then argue that she has to be dunked.)

Sailors' tattoos indicating they've crossed the equator.

Commissioning and retiring military personnel.

Trooping the colors.

Opening the Stock Exchange's day with the ringing of a bell.

Even "tribal" people have rituals that aren't religious, eg., among the Plains nations, a man was expected to make his prospective intended's parents a number of gifts, including indicating his own ability to provide for a family by the number of ponies in the package.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #19)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 09:36 AM

22. Um, okasha did, just upthread in post #2.

"FGM is a cultural, not a religious phenomenon."

Perhaps you should correct her.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 10:32 PM

25. Any and every way possible to stop this is a plus

it is a outrageous act of cruelty to not only the girls/women but to the men as well.

Think about it, how would it be if your partner could not have an orgasm ever?

How left out would you feel if other men got to experience sexual intimacy in this way (you see it in movies perhaps), but for you in your marriage your wife would only experience pain? And the risk of death in childbirth is raised as well.....

And for your marriage night you have to cut your wife with a knife? Any and all ways must be employed to end this for all.

It is a horror.

I lived in West Africa where this was practiced.

Instead of arguing about how, just try to get involved in any way that you can to support the ending of it.

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #25)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 09:35 AM

26. Great post. There are ways to support the eradication of this process and

I am glad you are encouraging people to get more involved.

I think we may see significant reductions in our lifetime

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Response to cbayer (Reply #26)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 02:42 PM

27. Oh I hope so

it is a heartbreaking practice for all. Really.

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #27)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 03:06 PM

28. Did you see "Half the Sky" yet? I posted a link above.

The first segment is on FGM in Somaliland. It was possibly one of the most difficult things I have ever watched.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #28)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 05:05 PM

31. I really have not been able to watch these things....

maybe I will get the courage up....it brings back many horrible memories and triggers.

I can only say that anyone who equates female genital mutilation with male circumcision is not understanding that it is the equivalent of removing the entire penis and testicles. But worse.

It is something that I hope will end as soon as possible.

I am glad that people are working in all ways that they can to help end it's practice.

Where I was in West Africa it was the Christian groups- the Catholic Relief Services and the various other Christian ngo's along with the UN health service people who were making a difference on the ground. The animists did not practice it, only the Moslems. But there is such a long way to go. But in an odd way the seriousness of AIDS may be helping focus on this from the health care communities so small and underfunded as they are.

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #31)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 05:24 PM

34. I understand your difficulty in watching this and will not

encourage you to do so.

Of all the segments in this show, it is the most difficult.

On the bright side,it does highlight the efforts that are being made to stop it. As an aside, this 2 part Frontline documentary, which is about the problems that face women and girls internationally, is excellent and you might be interested in skipping the FGM part and watching the others.

I spent some time in eastern Africa last year and it was life changing for me. Would love to go to the west at some point in my life.

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #25)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 05:02 PM

30. Best post in the thread.

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Response to okasha (Reply #30)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 05:07 PM

32. thank you so much

that means a lot to me.

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #32)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 05:15 PM

33. You're entirely welcome.

N/T

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Response to okasha (Reply #30)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 05:25 PM

35. Have you seen Half the Sky? If not, you might be interested and Hillary Clinton is

one of the women highlighted who are working on problems facing girls and women. She's fantastic in this documentary.

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