Mark down the date April 26, 2010 on your calendar as it’s a date that should be remembered. For sadly it marks the day that American medicine took a giant step back into the dark ages. A day when we saw our medical establishment make a statement you would never expect from any reasonable person much less a medical academy.
For amazingly on that otherwise uneventful day in April of this year came a shocking change in the AAP’s stand on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This isn’t a term that we hear or talk about much in America. But beyond the shadows of what is, in this country, a seldom practiced form of ritualistic discrimination lies the sad and disturbing practice of FGM. It’s all too common an occurrence in many third world countries where every year girls, often no more than babies, are victims of this barbaric custom. And they quietly and secretly carry the physical and mental scars of this abuse for a life time. They live never being able to face their attacker but carrying in their heart the shame, humiliation, and pain caused by this treacherous act as a constant reminder of their second class citizenship as women.
But while worldwide and estimated 120 million women undergo this practice involving the partial or total removal of the female genitalia it seldom occurs here and currently is illegal. In 1998 AAP stated in their policy review and stand on the issue that it saw the practice as medically unnecessary, a human rights violation, and it opposed all forms of FGM, and cautioned pediatricians about their role in "perpetuating a social practice with cultural implications for the status of women."
However it now seems that the AAP is taking the side of allowing pediatricians to lawfully engage in this barbaric ritual practice here in America. In their April 26th statement they refer to the practice as "female genital cutting (FGC) or ritual genital cutting,” dropping the term "female genital mutilation" and they make no reference to the discriminatory aspect of FGM, and further state they selectively oppose only those forms of FGM that in their view "pose the risk of physical or psychological harm." (As if any form of genital mutilation could be said to cause neither physical nor psychological harm.)
So at a time when the rest of the world and its medical establishment has turned the corner and taken a stand against FGM we in America could see our laws and medical practices changed to allow physicians to lawfully perform such horrible acts on young women. And this comes at the same time that Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) announced the introduction of new bipartisan legislation, The Girls Protection Act (H.R. 5137), to close the loophole in the federal law prohibiting FGM by making it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the U.S. out of the country for the purpose of FGM. That bill if signed into law could protect 1,000’s of girls annually.
But if the laws and medical standards are changed to reflect AAP’s new policy all of this will be meaningless as FGM could be legally practiced here and there would be no need to send young women out of the country to have this done.
This is something that is simply unacceptable and must be stopped. Currently the fight against this new view of FGM by the AAP is being lead by Equality Now . We simply must not let our young women, or young women anywhere for that matter, be mutilated out of some antiquated standard that has no purpose but to degrade and subjugate women as chattel.
Equity Now home page
PRNewswire press release by Equity Now
HOW TO CONTACT THE AAP