Thursday, December 06, 2007

When Will The Barbarism End?

An article I found recently on deals with the continuing prevalence of female genital mutilation, or female "circumcision" as others call it. I've known about the practice for a while, but it shocked me to see that the female circumcision rate is over 90% in some African countries.

We who live in the developed Western world are so blessed. Sure we've got our own share of issues, but I'd rather live here than anywhere else.

Thank God for the work that several organizations like Amnesty International are doing to draw attention to this barbaric practice.

From the article:

'An Evil, Vicious Practice'

All Things Considered, July 6, 2007 ·

Egypt is strengthening its ban on female circumcision in the wake of the death last month of a 12-year-old girl undergoing the procedure.

Female circumcision has been illegal in Egypt for years, but the death of Bedour Shaker in the Minya district of Upper Egypt has brought to light how widespread the practice remains.

Many say it will take years to reverse local customs that support the practice, also common in other parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Bedour died, reportedly of an overdose of anesthesia, in a clinic where a doctor was performing what for many Egyptian women is still a rite of passage in the 21st century — the removal of parts of the genitalia, usually including the clitoris.

Her death and the unusually heavy publicity it generated have re-energized opponents of the practice.

"I hate to say that, but it helped us immensely. It's an awful custom. It's an evil, vicious practice, really," says Moushira Khattab, Secretary-General of Egypt's National Council for Childhood and Motherhood.

Khattab says that as depressing as they might seem, the latest figures on female circumcision in Egypt actually represent a noticeable improvement.

"Seventy percent are victims of this practice," Khattab says. "But the good thing is that this percentage reflects a decline in the prevalence. [The percentage] used to be in the 90s."

As recently as 2003, a UNICEF survey found that well over 90 percent of Egyptian women who were or had been married had undergone circumcision.

The reason for some optimism, advocates of eradicating the practice say, lies in changing attitudes among young girls. The latest figures for girls ages 10 to 18 show circumcision rates down to 63 percent in rural areas, and down to 43 percent among urban girls. Among girls who attend urban private schools, the figure drops to 9 percent.

Eradicating the Practice

The battle against female circumcision is more complex than it may seem at first glance. It's not, as many assume, necessarily linked to conservative Islam. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, the practice is virtually unheard of. Egyptian scholars say female mummies showing evidence of clitoral excision date back to the 16th century B.C., long before either Christianity or Islam arrived on the scene...

Full article here

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