Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Man Convicted in Female Circumcision

Here's the story

A man allegedly cut his daughter's clitoris off when she was two years old. His wife, the girl's mother, testified that she didn't notice the injury until a year later. His defense claimed that the circumcision was actually done by the girl's mother's family.

I find it very unlikely that a mother wouldn't notice that her daughter had been (circumcised/mutilated) until a year later. I don't know anything about babies and diapers and all that, but I would assume that if a two year old is toilet trained (are they? I don't know), she still needs help in the toileting process (buttons and zippers and doors and handwashing). I also doubt two year olds bathe alone. Further, if the father is enough of a staunch traditionalist to actually circumcise his daughter, I doubt that he was the primary caregiver during that post-circumcision year. I'm not sure of the laws in Georgia, but that claim of delayed discovery may have been introduced to push back the statute of limitations.

I also don't buy that the mother was completely ignorant of any intent or plans on her husbands (or anyone else's) part to circumcise her daughter. I would buy that the mother, during her marriage (The parents have since divorced) could have been scared or intimidated into allowing a circumcision, and not reporting it. I don't buy; because it's just not likely, and just not the way that it's done- that the father could have circumcised the girl without the mother's knowledge or assistance. And I also think that it's far more likely that a mother would circumcise than a father.

Why do I think that?

Because, actually, female circumcision is by and large a woman-on-woman (practice, crime, operation, abuse). In areas that have been successful at eradicating F.G.M- they've been successful only when education and incentives were offered to women not to cut/ have their daughters cut. It's hard to reconcile the impression of F.G.M. as a mechanism of controlling women, protecting their chastity, enforcing the values of the (oh-so-rhetorically popular) patriarchy, with the well-meaning grandmothers and aunts and midwives who actually perform and arrange these operations.

All that said. I wasn't there. I don't know what this father did, or what that mother knew, or what that mother's family knew; which is a very important thing to keep in mind when reading news stories of this nature.

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