I am feeling conflicted about female genital mutilation (FGM) today after reading that male circumcision is considered the same and also has detrimental effects. People die from botched operations for both male and female but male circumcision is being promoted in Africa and other places as a way to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS. But also both genital modifications are critical to their cultures.
For males and females its a way of identifying who belongs to what groups or in some cases demonstrates their religious beliefs. In most cases the modification takes place before the person is able to consent or object so its not like they have a lot of choice in the matter. In American culture many parents make the decision to circumcise their sons, but daughters are spared. In some African cultures, among others around the world, the daughters are circumcised as well. In South Africa circumcision rituals recently made headlines when 30 young men passing through a circumcision and coming of age ritual died due to botched procedures.
Its interesting to think about how many cry out against FGM but circumcise their sons or are circumcised themselves. To be clear, I have never been for FGM and still don’t support it. However, thinking about it in the same light as male circumcision I feel more compassionate and understanding. Should we just let cultures do their own thing and not judge? Should parents just leave their kids alone until they are old enough to make their own choice? I feel that many would opt-out if they were given the chance.