Thursday, November 02, 2006

First Female Circumcision Trial in the U.S.

Female circumcision, in which parents cut off their tiny daughter's clitoris so she won't experience orgasm as an adult, is very widespread in eastern and southern Africa. Perhaps 130 million girls have been cut this way. The practice horrifies most Americans. Indeed, I find it the most reliable way to cure students of a sophomoric "anything goes" cultural relativism. The practice is so revolting here that it is against federal law.

Khalid Adem, an Ethiopian immigrant, has been convicted of circumcising his daughter, now seven, when she was two. He denies it, and blames his South African ex-wife's family. His ex, with the ironic name of Fortunate Adem, says that she did not notice that her little daughter had been cut up for a year. His lawyer says this is so implausible that it shows she knew about it all along.

Absent any reason to doubt the verdict, I accept the jury's conclusion that the father did it. I think it is probably a significant measure of the power of moral outrage, as well as the threat of jail time, that Khalid Adem not only denies doing it, but says anyone who would is a "moron" with his "mind in the gutter."

Georgia, where the trial was held, passed a state law against female circumcision after the case began, though it was not relevant in this trial. If there are other trials, I expect that other states will follow suit.

The silver lining of this horror is that however much the culture war may have advanced in our society, Americans still unite in rejecting female genital mutilation and the very idea that women (alone) should be denied sexual pleasure.

1 comment:

Kerri said...

This one made it into the front page of the Yucat√°n paper too, albeit on the bottom of the front page.