Few days ago, the English newspapers published the findings of a Committee of the British Parliament, responsible for assessing the status of female genital mutilation. The diagnosis was clear: the members of the Commission considered “a scandal” that in Britain, a country that was a pioneer in adopting a law punishing female genital mutilation, in 1985 not has been a conviction in 30 years. And that in just three months in 2016 1,242 cases have been.
It is not a problem just British. It is estimated that in Europe live 500,000 women victims of this practice and that other 180,000 suffer or are at risk of diabetes each year.
What is female genital mutilation
For those who do not know, it is extremely painful and dangerous practice which, the less aggressively, a girl removes the clitoris. Ablation is called. The worst form, called infibulation, the labia majora are cut or less and they are repositioned so that, to the heal, close your vaginal opening to leave only a small canal for urination and menstruation. These interventions are made without anesthesia, without antibiotics, without instrumental sterile, without any need to do so. The aim?.. Cancel the sexuality of a woman. Even preclude sex. So not dishonor their parents. So you can get married. To comply with its mission to be a mouth to feed and a walking threat to the reputation of the family and pass to be the property of another man.
As with all surgery, there are risks: many girls bleed to death. Others, by infection. If they saved from these two immediate dangers, are difficult to urinate, frequent infections, long, painful menstruation, cysts, complications at birth, sterility, depression, anxiety… That Yes, the honour of the family, with a little luck, remains intact.
Female genital mutilation in Europe
How is that this happens to British girls (also a French, Italian or Spanish) it possible? In the same way that the burkini came to our beaches: immigration. But while the veil or the “Islamic swimsuit” are visible signs, female genital mutilation is a hidden horror.
However, from time to time, as the list of Schindler girl red wrap, a case appears in the press. One as Bobo Traoré, the French girl of barely three months who died in 1983 of ablation you had parents, originating in Mali.
Or the girl’s Italian mother and Egyptian father who was subjected to infibulation, the most severe form of genital mutilation, in 1999. His case was the first of its kind that judged the Italian courts.
Or the la Niña de Teruel which Gambia parents removed the clitoris until it met a year, by which the father was sentenced to six years in prison and the mother, two. The difference in punishment stems from the fact that the father knew that female genital mutilation is prohibited under Spanish law (and did not agree with this). His wife, who had just arrived to Spain, not.
Are the laws solution?
All these news, despite the horror that go girls, show a good thing: We have been concerned to develop laws that punish these acts. But how close we are to solve the problem?..
As Europeans that we are, we try to solve the problems of the European way: with laws. We think that laws express a broad agreement on a subject, the will of all of us, so we prohibit something will make it disappear. By that one of the topics that focused the debate of the burkini this summer, for example, was whether banning it or not.
We Europeans, we forget what we had to go through centuries of difficult cohabitation in which we learned, so painful sometimes values that make possible our present society to reach this: the rule of law, equity and freedom. That for which a person see the absurd and humiliating practice has to understand first that the responsibility of an act is that commits it, not of the one who suffers it. If it hurts, causes you sequels and prevents you to live fully, is not proof of love. And although it is practiced to a 98% of women in a country, as in Somalia, it is still not “culture” or “tradition”. It is a crime.
We have to fight to eliminate female genital mutilation
And what do we do? Or more important, do we have to do something? No can we declare that it is a problem of “yours” and walk away? I believe that we cannot. Just as we can not stop the immigration.
To help our daughters, born in Europe and of European appearance, enjoy more equality and less machismo (Yes, there is still work to be done), her friends, born in Gambia, Sudan or Mali, of African appearance, should receive the same treatment and the same protection. If not, the rights that we enjoy as Western women will be only a privilege, something that we have been awarded because our society can afford it, not because it is just.
I think that we fail to make a girl damage only to be girl. And not that a woman forces it is bathing dressed only by being a woman. Because the reasoning that justifies the two events is the same: women are, check them, should minimize the damage that may cause.
The severity of the first fact makes logical its prohibition by law. The second ban would contradict one of our core values: individual freedom. The difficult fight against FGM female is its invisibility. The advantage of the burkini is that it is visible, that discriminatory reasoning made public. Precisely for this reason the debate of the burkini is a great opportunity to teach our new neighbors, coworkers, parents of cole importantly: men and women are the same, with the same rights and the same responsibilities. It is not something that only happens here, is not a strange local tradition, is a universal value.
It would be a shame not to take advantage of it.