Definition: The term female genital cutting (FGC) comprises all surgical procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for cultural or non-therapeutic reasons. It is frequently grouped with the terms female genital mutilation (FGM) or circumcision and the three terms are often used interchangeably.
What it says: Female genital cutting is a traditional cultural practice which is often mistaken for a religious rite because it is practiced most widely in Muslim countries. However, it has no rationale in the Koran or other religious faiths. Millions of girls and women have undergone FGC as an expression of their cultural beliefs about health and hygiene, women’s sexuality, and as part of community initiation rites into adulthood.
My beef? Pressure to respect “culture’ pushed some women’s health advocates to accept the less offensive “cutting” because they fear that parents who they wish to educate would resent the implication that they are “mutilating” their daughters. Others have pointed out that the word “cutting” is less judgmental and relates better to terms used in many local languages. But these procedures cause serious pain, trauma, loss of sexual pleasure and frequently, severe physical complications such as bleeding, infections or even death. Long-term complications can bring recurrent infections, infertility and obstructed labor.
Are we more concerned with political correctness in cultures often controlled by men than we are with respecting women’s bodies? Cutting implies growing back; we cut our hair, the grass, etc. When you excise parts of women’s genitalia, they do not regenerate. The term cutting is NOT strong enough to capture the physical and psychological loss girls and women suffer. It trivializes a practice which presents tremendous health risks to girls and women throughout their lives, is dehumanizing and violation of human rights.
Suggested replacements: Only the term Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) appropriately describes the serious risks associated with the practice and the violation of women’s human rights.