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Western media coverage of female genital surgeries in Africa called 'hyperbolic' and 'one sided'
Date:11/13/2012

These practices involve reducing the clitoral hood and tissue and reducing or eliminating the labia and the clitoris. A third type, referred to as infibulation or sealing, involves narrowing the vaginal opening with stitches or some other sealing method.

The authors put forth seven facts that they hope will change the scope of media coverage and lead to a better understanding of the cultural complexities underlying female genital cutting:

  • Medical research has found that a high percentage of women who have had genital surgery "have rich sexual lives, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction, and their frequency of sexual activity is not reduced."
  • Reproductive health and medical complications linked to female genital surgery happen infrequently.
  • Those who value female genital surgery view it as aesthetic enhancement, not mutilation.
  • In almost all societies where female genital surgery is performed, male genital surgery also takes place. Broadly speaking, then, such societies "are not singling out females as targets of punishment, sexual deprivation, or humiliation."
  • The link between patriarchy and female genital surgery is unfounded. Almost no patriarchal societies adhere to the practice and, at the same time, the practice is not customary in the world's most sexually restrictive societies.
  • Women manage and control female genital surgery in Africa and the practice "should not be blamed on men or on patriarchy." Ironically, the authors contend, groups that fight against female genital surgery weaken the power of women.
  • An influential WHO study about the "deadly consequences" of female genital surgery is the subject of criticism that has not been adequately publicized. The reported evidence does not support sensational media claims about female genital surgery as a cause of perinatal and maternal mortality during birth

The authors outline the following seven policy imp
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Contact: Michael Turton
turtonm@thehastingscenter.org
845-424-4040 x242
The Hastings Center
Source:Eurekalert

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