With the massive amount of migrants pouring into southern and western Europe, it’s no surprise that cultural and religious customs are finding some advocacy in legal circles. Arabic lecturer at Trinity College and member of the Islamic Cultural Center of Ireland Dr. Ali Salem is advocating for the legalisation of female circumcision for heritage and health reasons. He believes the practice has been maligned and essentially viewed in an unnecessarily negative way.
Although the practice of female genital circumcision hasn’t been shown to provide any health benefits, according to the WHO, Salem is adamant that it should, nevertheless be allowed in some cases. He makes the case that if it isn’t given legal blessing in Ireland, that people will just go outside the country to get it done, or perhaps even in underground, specious places in order to get it, because “you can’t control people”, he says. The Independent provides a report:
Female circumcision “has been described in a horrible way” and should be considered in certain circumstances, a member of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland has said.
Dr Ali Selim called female circumcision “an inherited practice” and said parents should be allowed to have it carried out on their daughter if a doctor says it’s necessary.
He also said that you “cannot control people” and people will travel overseas for the procedure.
Female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), is defined as the partial of total destruction of female genitalia for non-medical reasons and was made illegal here in 2012.
FGM has been carried out on an estimated 200 million girls around the world, including nearly 6,000 in Ireland.
Despite the World Health Organisation stating that “the procedure has no health benefits for girls and women”, Dr Selim claims it should be allowed in some instances.
Speaking on Prime Time on RTE One last night, he explained: “I am not an advocate of female genital mutilation, but of female circumcision.
“If we see female circumcision in the same way as male circumcision, it might be needed for one person and not another, it has to be determined by a doctor and practiced in a safe, medical environment.
“It’s the same medical reasons that justify male circumcision, it’s not an obligation but it should be allowed by law if needed and a medical doctor should be able to decide if it’s needed.”
Dr Selim, who is an Arabic lecturer at Trinity College, said he feels that female circumcision has been harshly portayed.
“It has been described in a horrible way, it’s always described as ‘barbaric’ and we always hear the term mutilation, it is portrayed as a dark skin practice, or something that belongs in the Dark Ages.
“In Europe people want to be cool so you have to show a revolutionary attitude, it’s an inherited practice.
“If it’s inherited it doesn’t have to be rejected, it has to be considered and not rejected just because it’s inherited,” he said.
Dr Selim also claimed there is little that can be done to stop people accessing female circumcision abroad.
“You can’t control people, it’s against the law to practise abortion but people just cross the border and come back.
“I would say to anyone who wants to bring their daughter overseas for circumcision to ask their doctor, a medical doctor has to say that they need it,” he said.
He was speaking after a worldwide social media campaign against FGM was launched in Dublin on Tuesday.
Activists are calling for zero tolerance towards FGM and are asking people to use show their support on social media using the hashtag #MeTooFGM
GFM survivor Ifrah Ahmed, an Irish citizen who was born in Somalia, helped to organise the launch and said that she will fight to have it banned worldwide.
She said: “Today 200 million women worldwide are living with the consequences of female genital mutilation and 100 million are at risk of being circumcised.
“It is amazing really.”
Evidently, it is something that might be “needed”, or something that a doctor might prescribe because it’s part of their heritage. And for that reason, it should be considered. And according to Dr. Ali, it should be more than considered, should be legalised, not because it’s obligatory, but because it’s “necessary”.
This view is somewhat radical in Europe, as typically, physically altering procedures are not generally described by medial professionals as being “necessary” on the grounds that it is a custom derived from heritage. That’s a completely foreign perspective for western Europeans. And so are non-obligatory necessities. It’s clear that this practice isn’t being advocated because some girls or women “need” it, but because they want to introduce in Irish law respect and allowance for a gruesome and inhumane practice in order to bring it into accord with their way of life.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.