Monday, February 02, 2004

accomodating traditions?

A gynecologist in Italy has been treating immigrant women from Africa for the long-term side effects of female circumcision (aka female genital mutilation). The tradition is not dying out even among those living in Italy and he wants to save young girls from the ordeal by....
Dr. [Omar] Abdulcadir ... publicly proposed that the hospital where he works let him perform a much less severe version of — or alternative to — female genital cutting.

His goal, he said, was to ease the physical toll of a tradition that was not going away.

"My proposal isn't ideal," he said. "But is there a better answer for how to save the children?"

Health officials in the region of Tuscany are seriously considering that question and have yet to reject his proposal, which he says may prevent immigrants from bringing girls under 10 years old to Africa or to illicit places here for more extreme operations. Opponents have denounced the doctor's proposal, calling it an implicit endorsement of an unacceptable practice.

... That alternative, as he described it, would be a piercing of the tip of the clitoris that would draw just a drop or two of blood and would be largely symbolic. He said he would use a topical anesthetic.

... Several opponents said immigrants who were deeply invested in tradition would probably deem the alternative insufficient, while immigrants who were liberated from that tradition would feel no need for a substitute.
Thanks to Gord for the link.