C’est le deuxieme pas qui coute

In the UK, a report by MPs says FGM is being ignored.

They warn that 20,000 girls in the UK are at risk of being subjected to the highly painful procedure, and 66,000 women are living with its after-effects, and yet not a single prosecution has been brought since it was outlawed.

The failure to act seriously undermines Britain’s claim to be a world leader in tackling violence against women in developing nations, the Commons international development select committee said.

Yes it does. Making it illegal but never prosecuting makes the law look like a mere gesture – quite an insulting gesture under the circumstances.

Female genital mutilation has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

But there has not been a single prosecution, even after the law was tightened in 2003 to criminalise the procedure taking place on British citizens overseas.

The committee said: “The UK’s international leadership is weakened by its failure to address violence against women and girls within its own borders, particularly female genital mutilation from which 20,000 girls within the UK are at risk.

”Robust action should be taken to counter political correctness and address culturally sensitive practices such as female genital mutilation within the UK.“

I don’t think “political correctness” is the right phrase there. More like “stupidly one-sided hypersensitivity to ‘culture'” I think.


  1. Francisco Bacopa says

    FGM is about the worst thing ever. Those who practice it need to feel the heavy hand of the law. Gaol (in UK terms) time for the cutters. Long sentences. And family courts need to get involved. When couples are divorcing, the possibility of FGM should result in custody going to the parent less inclined toward FGM. All relatives from a family that has practiced FGM should be barred from immigration. Take a fucking stand and make people pay to deter this shit. And give asylum to anyone claiming to escape FGM. But don’t let any of her kin immigrate. They proved they are cunt cutting scum.

    FGM was once common in the US in the first half of the 20th century. If a girl humped her pillow this was seen as the end of the world and her clitoral hood and clitoris were were burned with acid. Sadly, FGM has returned to the US in the form of “cosmetic” labioplasty.

  2. says

    The problem is “who” is responsible for this.

    Doctors are unwilling to be responsible because then they won’t bring their children.

    And a major issue is that FGM awareness is poor. There are 20,000 children at risk of it and the problem is that no one is speaking to the parents. There are no significant attempts to explain it and explain why it’s bad.

    The problem is the procedure seems to be done “in Africa and Asia where it’s prevalent” rather than in the UK.

    And no, Francisco’s draconian attitude to it doesn’t “solve” anything. It just makes it impossible to treat women because they won’t come forwards. The people doing this aren’t doing so because they enjoy this, but because they think they have no other options.

    You can stop more FGM through education and information than by throwing bricks at people. And part of it is getting the “women” (Yeah that’s right) who do the procedure on board with stamping it out by giving them some other role in society.

  3. says

    So the complaint really should be not that there haven’t been any prosecutions but that there hasn’t been any (or enough or the right kind of) education and persuasion – yes?

  4. says

    Another problem is false positives. A comprehensive attempt to stamp out FGM would result in thousands of unaffected children being subjected to unnecessary medical examinations.

    Something needs to be done, but there are no easy answers.

  5. Pen says

    I don’t think “political correctness” is the right phrase there. More like “stupidly one-sided hypersensitivity to ‘culture’” I think.

    And to family relationships perhaps. I’m not disagreeing with your fundamental argument that this must stop but I am thinking of the situation of young girls who might see their parents jailed and themselves and their siblings taken into care over something that’s already done. It’s virtually impossible to prove intent to commit FGM before it happens. If girls and families start to know the law will be ruthlessly enacted they may avoid necessary medical treatments where the mutilation would be discovered. The only generally acceptable way of proving FGM has happened outside of medical treatment is if girls self-report. Any suggestions?

  6. left0ver1under says

    hyperdeath (#4)

    Another problem is false positives. A comprehensive attempt to stamp out FGM would result in thousands of unaffected children being subjected to unnecessary medical examinations.

    Not necessarily. Girls subjected to that brutality starting around age nine or after, so they’re old enough to talk about it *IF* people ask them the right questions. Nurses could be sent into schools (unannounced, of course) and talk to kids one-on-one in private, away from the pressure of their families. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are “doctors” on the NHS in England who are willing to mutilate the girls and couldn’t be trusted to look out for their best interests.

    Prevention and reporting is possible, if societies are willing to make the effort. Those that don’t show that they don’t care about girls and women.

  7. latsot says

    In the UK we have a Minister of State for Faith and Communities. Yeah, I know. But I can’t find a definitive position from her on female genital mutilation. It’s hard to imagine that someone couldn’t have a position on FGM, but as far as I can tell, she – the Minister of State for Faith and Communities – does not.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  8. kevinalexander says

    It’s hard to imagine that someone couldn’t have a position on FGM, but as far as I can tell, she – the Minister of State for Faith and Communities – does not.

    The short answer is…She can’t.
    It’s a political post. Her job is to make nice to the faiths and communities even if that means a wink and a nudge since it’s the parents who vote, not the little girls.

    The anti FGM law was passed as a sop to bleeding heart liberals, there was never any intention to enforce an unenforceable law.

    There is still the possibility that a woman will shed her faith while simultaneously attack her parents by coming forward with a complaint but I don’t see that happening too often.
    In the end the only solution is education, early and often and hope this barbarism fades away.

  9. latsot says


    You know what, she can. She can have an opinion at any time. She can use her platform to do good or to nothing. She can define her job or have it defined for her.

    Calling a job ‘political’ doesn’t mean she can’t actually attempt to do good.

  10. latsot says


    Oh, and wait: her ‘political’ role has never prevented her from saying how wrong she thinks homosexuality is.

  11. kevinalexander says

    Maybe I’m being too cynical in saying she can’t but I noticed that she hasn’t. It is a political job. What does her boss tell her?
    Homosexuality is unpopular so she can condemn that. She will stop that when gays are more accepted.

  12. latsot says

    We both agree that she hasn’t said anything useful. Ever. But she could have done and could continue to.

    In what way does she have to say and spread the opinions that her bosses tell her to? I don’t think that’s how the job works. Or rather, I think that whoever is in the job gets to decide how the job works and there’s nothing much anyone can do about it.

    The worst case scenario is that she gets sacked from a job she doesn’t need for saying true things.

    The WORST case. Don’t defend her for being ‘political’ when you mean that she is a coward.

  13. kevinalexander says

    Oh dear! I certainly wasn’t defending her. I almost always use the word ‘political’ in a pejorative sense.

  14. kevinalexander says

    I’m also thinking of our situation here in Canada where we have a serious control freak in the PM’s office with all his party muzzled and on a short leash

  15. latsot says

    @kevinalexander I think you *were* defending Baroness Warsi a bit because you said she had no choice in espousing opinions she might have.

    I’m afraid that you’re completely wrong about this. We’re a democracy. It doesn’t matter who her boss is, she still gets to say what she thinks. And she ought to, shouldn’t she?

    She apparently hasn’t bothered to form an opinion about female genital mutilation. Or else she values her political career above the mutilation of young girls.

  16. kevinalexander says

    OK, I have to defer to your interpretation, I am here, you are there. You probably understand it better than I do.
    Here In Canada, also ostensibly a democracy, no minister could keep her job if she strayed from the path Harper laid out for her.

  17. latsot says

    And so you think it’s acceptable for a politician to promote – or at least not to oppose – hateful practice, even when it is ostensibly part of her remit, because she might lose her job if she argues?

    Of COURSE it isn’t. Of COURSE she shouldn’t. Does anyone really disagree on this? Of course, Warsi has never actually been voted into any position. She’s not an MP. She has absolutely nothing to lose, regardless of what she says. And yet she still refuses to defend the people she is in a unique position to defend.

  18. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Kevin, what you’re not getting is that latsot is saying that “keeping your job” is not the dispositive factor. No one is arguing that she wouldn’t endanger her job by espousing politically unpopular opinions. We know that she would. The argument is that this issue is more important and worth taking heat, including a sacking, for.

    “Can’t” is not synonymous with “Can’t do so and keep her job.” And you privilege keeping a job too much. You characterize it as if every observer would automatically see it as the most important factor, and a completely understandable and justifiable reason for moral cowardice.

    That is not as obvious as the fact that the sky is blue, and I wish it didn’t seem that way to you. Please consider what you’re supporting when you accept that as reasonable.

  19. latsot says

    Stupid Spokesgay, saying everything ten times better than me.

    But yes, that is what I meant.

  20. kevinalexander says

    Warsi is either a coward or worse, she actually approves the the quaint cultural practice and is too cowardly to say so. I get that, I got it from the start.
    I agree with you now. I shouldn’t have speculated on her motives.

  21. kevinalexander says

    One more thing, please! don’t equate my trying to understand something as supporting it. We all have a theory of mind, we all try to understand what’s going in other’s heads. It’s not the same as approving or supporting.

  22. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I get it Kevin; just thought the phenomenon was worth calling out. Lots of people see it that way, sadly.

  23. latsot says

    @Ophelia: “Warsi [shudder]”

    Even she. Nobody here really knows what to make of her. She seems to get wheeled out whenever something bad happens so we can pretend that faith might help. Apart from that, all she seems to do is not condemn really bad shit like FGM and sharia and so on.

    I assume we pay her for this in one way or another.

  24. Pen says

    It’s a shame we have only one constructive suggestion from Avicenna @2. The whole thing about Warsi is a red herring. Whether she can or does say anything, nobody whose opinion is relevant in this case is going to give a damn. Maybe Avicenna has some suggestions for how to begin an education process? There was one suggestion of introducing the topic in schools but I think it’s the parents who really need to be reached. I think for obvious reasons, they aren’t going to take the message from the united representatives of Little England. There are women out there from affected communities who are trying to have a voice against FGM which could be more public. But more importantly, we may need parents, potential male partners and strong figures within those communities to voice their views, including doubts without being arrested, you know.

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