American Academy of Pediatrics reverses course, no longer accepts “symbolic” female genital mutilation
Good news — on a subject that should not have been up for any form of compromise in the first place — but good news, nonetheless, in an update on this story. “Pediatricians now reject all female genital cutting,” by Stephanie Chen for CNN (thanks to JG):
(CNN) — The American Academy of Pediatrics has rescinded a controversial policy statement raising the idea that doctors in some communities should be able to substitute demands for female genital cutting with a harmless clitoral “pricking” procedure.
Harmless? Compared to infibulation or clitoridectomy, but what about the psychological impact of what remains a ritualized sexual assault at the hands of one’s community — and almost with the approval of the AAP?
And then there are the principles that are at stake: Equal protection under the law (where “culture” is not an excuse for trauma), and of course, that tenet of the Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm.” And cutting without a medical reason certainly constitutes “harm.”
“We retracted the policy because it is important that the world health community understands the AAP is totally opposed to all forms of female genital cutting, both here in the U.S. and anywhere else in the world,” said AAP President Judith S. Palfrey.
The contentious policy statement, issued in April, had condemned the practice of female genital cutting overall. But a small portion of statement suggesting the pricking procedure riled U.S. advocacy groups and survivors of female genital cutting.
In the April statement, the group raised the idea that some physicians should be able to prick or nick a girl’s clitoral skin in order to “satisfy cultural requirements.” The group likened the nick to an ear piercing.
So, if it’s that much of a harmless non-event, did everyone at the AAP who thought that would be okay line up to get their “nick?”
On Thursday the AAP stated the group will not condone doctors to provide any kind of “clitoral nick.” The AAP also clarified nicking a girl or woman’s genitals is forbidden under a 1996 federal law banning female genital mutilation.
“I cried and told them how grateful I am,” said Soraya Mire, a Somali filmmaker and survivor of female genital cutting. “Thank you for understanding us survivors and hearing our voices.”
Equality Now, an international advocacy group fighting to end female genital cutting, echoed a similarly appreciative response.
“We welcome the AAP’s decision to withdraw its 2010 policy statement on FGM,” said Lakshmi Anantnarayan, a spokeswoman at Equality Now. “This is a crucial step forward in the movement to raise awareness about female genital mutilation….