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

lications:

  • The media, activists and policy-makers must "cease using violent and preemptive rhetoric" that paints a sensational image of African parents mutilating their daughters and damaging their reproductive and sexual health.
  • It should be acknowledged that female genital surgery is not unique to African women; the authors liken it to "genital piercings on college campuses" and "vaginal rejuvenations requested by some Western women."
  • Advocates fighting for safe, hospital-based female genital surgery should be given a voice in public policy forums.
  • "Zero tolerance" slogans promoted by anti-mutilation groups are counterproductive. Not only do they limit thoughtful, respectful dialogue, but they can make genital surgery more dangerous by driving the practice underground.
  • Legislation and regulations that criminalize female genital surgery for adult women are discriminatory, because they deny women's autonomy "to choose what makes them happy with their own bodies."
  • Studies of genital surgery should be multidisciplinary, and there should be support for a network linking researchers and advocates who have diverse points of view.
  • Women and girls who have undergone genital surgery as children and are now living in countries where the practice is nonexistent or illegal should not be subjected to discourse that stigmatizes them or teaches them to expect sexual dysfunction. Such discourse "may provoke what could be called 'psychological mutilation,'" potentially compromising the development of a normal and healthy psychosexual life.

While agreeing with the international network's call for accurate information about female genital surgery and its criticisms of inflammatory language, three commentaries disagree with the policy advisory statement.

Ruth Macklin, a bioethicist and professor in the department of epidemiology and population health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine o
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Contact: Michael Turton
turtonm@thehastingscenter.org
845-424-4040 x242
The Hastings Center
Source:Eurekalert

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