We often get reports here in Australia on the abhorrent practice of female infant genital mutilation, which is carried out in some overseas countries. There are the typical “pearl clutching” reactions, and gasps of horror, followed by a small sense of relief that ‘we don’t do that is this country. Or do we? Yes, we cut our baby boys, but that’s different. Isn’t it?
Most of our society, especially the older generations like the former sex discrimination commissioner Pru Goward, will stand up indignantly and proclaim that female genital cutting is mutilation but offer no position on male genital cutting. Much of this opinion however is based on the misguided belief female genital mutilation involves amputation of the clitoris and the cutting off or sewing up of all other external parts. The fact is that this extreme practice is rare, and that there are different degrees of female genital cutting. Some or these practices are clearly worse than male circumcision. Others though, such as a symbolic pin prick, are clearly less severe than male circumcision.
The following articles and blogs explore these similarities and differences, and why our society seems to accept one, but not the other: