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I am very irked to discover that female circumcision is often associated with Islam. I am not sure why this link is made. Do you have any insights why? As "westerners" we often look at female circumcision as a violation of rights. But I recently found out that often women perform this operation on their fellow women. Why is it that "westerners" feel the need to stop this from happening when it is accepted and willingly performed in nations like Egypt and Somalia and among peoples such as the Bedouins? Thank you for your time. Most sincerely, Ms. Manners

Thank you for your note to FEMINIST.COM. First I want to point out that just because female genital mutilation is "willingly performed in nations like Egypt and Somalia" does not mean that it is "right." It is not only "westerners" that condemn this horrific experience, but people from those countries where it is widely spread. Most famously--Efua Dorkenoo, Lydia Oluloro, Fauzia Kazinga. By describing this as "circumcision" rather than "mutilation" it equates it with male circumcision. The two procedures are actually entirely different as are the potential outcomes. Many women never have sexual pleasure as a result, others develop severe infections.

One reason that this procedure has been linked to Islam is 1.) because it is common in Islamic countries and 2.) because many have wrongly tried to justify this procedure by linking it to the Koran. In fact, this is just one more example of women not having control over their bodies and where our "preservation" is determined by a man. Many women are coerced into supporting this procedure even if they don't want their daughters or friends or nieces to have it for fear of social censure. What really needs to change is that women must no longer have their value determined by their sexual purity.

For more on this topic, I suggest that you read Fauzia Kasinga's book and Cutting the Rose by Efua Dorkenoo available at the FEMINIST.COM Bookstore under "Violence Against Women". Thanks - Amy


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