News from Denmark

Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is illegal in most Western states, and is illegal by law if not by practice in many African and Asian countries as well.  Denmark, however, has taken the prohibitions a step further, by making it illegal for parents to have this procedure performed on their children–even if it happens outside of Denmark.

The Copenhagen Post reports the first challenge to this law, from an immigrant couple who sent two of their daughters back to Sudan for circumcision.  Besides the hypocrisy (Danes were bewildered when Muslim extremists insisted that the Danish Mohammed artists be tried in Jordan for “crimes” committed in Denmark), this brings up lots of questions of cultural practices versus plain misogyny, the difficulties of immigrant assimilation, etc.

What do you think?  Should a country carry their law this far?  Should the US?


One thought on “News from Denmark

  1. Meg, you bring up such an interesting and important question. Female genital cutting (I prefer not to say mutilation as this has a negative connotation mediated by our cultural standpoint) is a practice rooted not only in culture but is also connected to politics and economics (in some parts of Somalia and elsewhere, women cannot get married if they do not have this done and they are shunned from their societies, forced to find alternate ways to survive). While some female genital cutting (like infibulation) is horrific and can definitely be seen as mutilation, some lesser forms are not as extreme. If this practice is to continue, these forms should be advocated for. Recently, I’ve been trying to understand our attachment to nation-states and have also been contemplating whether there is such a thing as universal human rights. These two are completely connected particularly when dealing with female genital cutting. At the moment, I am of the persuasion that FGC is rooted in culture and will continue to exist and should not be abolished based on the platform of universal human rights. Your blanket question is difficult to answer for all situations, but I guess in this particular situation I think Denmark is overstepping its boundaries and should advocate for the lesser forms of FGC or even provide clean, safe cuttings (maybe only the circumcision of the tip of the clitoris) for its citizens that feel the need to send their children away to have the procedure.

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