Pundits are always talking about finding common issues where left and right can stand united. Now, I for one find the ridiculous politically-driven “War on Women” agenda to be unproductive, but I’d like to offer a topic where even Nancy Pelosi and I could find allegiance — FGM, or female genital mutilation. In fact, I’d be thrilled to sit beside Rep. Pelosi in a PSA and denounce this practice. As the father of two girls, it is without a doubt one of the most reprehensible and archaic practices in our modern world.
This weekend I came across a story from February 6th on the subject on a blog called Unbound— sadly there were only 6 comments. The story is based on an interview with a Kenyan couple, Daniel and Sophia who have eight children – four girls and four boys. “Daniel speaks proudly of his cultural heritage and passing it along to his children. There’s one tradition he and his wife won’t continue, though, in order to protect their daughters. Female genital mutilation — also referred to as FGM or female circumcision — is a difficult subject to talk about in their culture, but the Kenyan couple agreed to speak with Unbound about their views.
“FGM involves altering or injuring female genitalia for non-medical reasons. While it’s concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it’s a universal problem, according to the U.N., and is practiced in some countries in Asia and Latin America and by immigrant populations in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.”
The fact that we are in the 21st century and abhorrent practices such as beheadings and FGM are still being conducted is troubling — actually, embarrassing.
“I am from the Kenyan tribe called Samburu,” Daniel said. “My people are very traditional and they are true to their culture. As the rest of Kenya embraces Westernization, we still hold on to what we believe is real — our culture.” There’s much about Samburu culture that Daniel loves. “I love the Samburu regalia and am so proud when I get to wear it,” he said. “It also makes me happy to see my family adorned in our traditional gear. Many tribes in Kenya have done away with their traditional gear, but we stand tall and beautiful with ours. It sets us apart.”“However, this proud man does not embrace all of his traditional culture. “I chose to carry the culture that is good and do away with that which is harmful,” he said.
The practice of FGM harms girls and women. It can cause severe bleeding, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth and higher risk of newborn deaths, according to the U.N., which estimates that more than 140 million girls and women alive today have gone through some form of FGM.According to Daniel, when a girl reaches puberty, she has to be initiated to womanhood,” he said. “Her ears are pierced, her two lower teeth removed and finally she has to face the knife. Female relatives (aunts and grandmothers) are the ones who perform this ritual on a girl. …“If a girl refused to be part of this initiation, she is referred to as an outcast and she cannot find a man to marry her. … Immediately after circumcision, the girl is married off. Many girls are age 12 at the circumcision initiation.”
According to a 2012 review conducted by Unbound (a Catholic non-profit organization) in Kenya’s Meru area, FGM and early marriage were cited as the two main cultural barriers to education. “These two factors are to a great extent interrelated in that most girls are married off immediately after undergoing FGM,” said the study authored by David Wamae of Unbound in Kenya. Economic pressures to marry off girls for a “bride price” contribute to the continuation of FGM and early marriage. Even if girls are not married immediately after FGM, they may believe they are no longer children and school is not for them.”
Where is the U.N.’s statement on this practice – I guess they’re too busy condemning Israel and supporting Hamas who uses children as human shields.
This disgusting practice must be ended and every country where it is allowed must be brought to the attention of us all. If we cannot unite to stand against this, what does it say about our character?
I think Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris-Perry should join me in speaking out on this — maybe even Joy Behar would join with me along with Kirsten Powers and Julie Roginsky. There shouldn’t be a single daddy of daughters who should tolerate this practice — and folks, I’m not talking about some empty hashtag campaign.
I’d be more than willing to tour the globe with the first lady Michele Obama and denounce this heinous assault against the bodies and future of young girls. This is the REAL war on women and here is the true frontline in the battle for women’s reproductive rights — not the murder of babies that has been taken over by the progressive left.
How do we fight this clear and present danger of FGM and child marriage? We must bring forth the full weight of our diplomatic, informational, and economic strength to dissuade countries from accepting these practices.
And we should support organizations such as Unbound. “Sponsorship through Unbound helps relieve economic pressures on families by helping with educational costs and other needs. It also provides families with economic opportunities and a safe space to discuss issues such as FGM through support groups for mothers. Local staff members also make families aware of the health risks of FGM. “It’s important for both men and women to understand the risks of FGM and protect girls from this dangerous practice,” said Dan Pearson, director of international programs for Unbound. “FGM has no benefits and only brings pain, trauma and a host of health risks to girls and women.”
“Regina Muburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa, said it is seen as a “rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood” in some cultures, and is done to “tame [a girl’s] feelings and prepare her for the duty of being a wife.” “This practice leaves a trail of destruction in the lives of girls,” Mburu said. “They are robbed of an important part of their lives as women, not to mention the health complications that can arise from the practice, especially during childbirth.” While some cultures are known for upholding the practice, other communities continue it “mostly in hiding as the government has banned it,” Mburu said.”
As a dad, I believe the greatest rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood is a quality education that unlocks all the doors of opportunity — and it seems that Daniel and I, separated by thousands of miles, agree. “My dream is to see my children excel,” Daniel said. “… I want them to have a better life, and that can only be achieved through education. They will become pilots and so much more.”
According to the U.N.,the practice has persisted for more than a thousand years. Well, I say it is doggone time it ended. What say you, women of the progressive socialist left? Wanna lock shields and make this stand as one with me?