April 21, 2024

Leading bioethics journal runs article defending female genital mutilation

Hi there, 

There are stories which are so controversial that an editor hesitates before hitting the OK button. One such is the report below on female genital mutilation (FGM). One of the world’s leading bioethics journals, The Hastings Center Report, has published an article which claims that this practice – absolutely abhorrent to Westerners – has been badly misrepresented.

(Having reported this much, I noticed that a couple of Twitter followers immediately unfollowed us, so please grit your teeth and bear with me if you are feeling queasy or outraged.)

The authors of the report do not take a stand on whether FGM should be allowed to continue, but they do say that there is little evidence for sensational media claims.

Even an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who is critical of FGM comments, “Speaking as both an African woman and an obstetrician-gynecologist, I hope that this practice ends during my lifetime. However, the impetus to abandon female genital cutting must come from within each community; a ban on it cannot be imposed by outsiders”. 

In view of the fact that the UN General Assembly is set to pass a non-binding resolution drafted by its human rights committee condemning FGM later this month, this is essential reading.

Cheers and thanks for your patience last week while I was away on holidays. 

Michael Cook
Looking for controversy? You’ve come to the right spot.