In her recent book, ‘The Whole Woman,’ Ms Greer argued that attempts to outlaw the practice amounted to “an attack on cultural identity,” adding: “One man’s beautification is another man’s mutilation.”
BBC MPs have launched an attack on the feminist writer Germaine Greer for what they say is her defense of female circumcision aka female genital mutilation.
The Commons International Development Select Committee said her comments on female genital mutilation – a practice which occurs in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, (as well as among Muslims in the West) – were both “simplistic and offensive”.
A resolution against female genital mutilation was passed by the World Health Organisation in 1994, and charities including Womankind Worldwide say that the practice contravenes UNICEF’s convention on the rights of the child.
She said that women should have the right to undergo genital mutilation as a form of “self-decoration” and posed the question: “If an Ohio punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?”
However, in a report published on Thursday – coincidentally the International Day Against Violence Towards Women – the select committee accused Ms Greer of a “misplaced sense of the sanctity of culture”.
The MPs cited figures from the World Health Organisation which estimated that between 85 and 115 million women worldwide had undergone some form of genital mutilation which doubles their risk of dying in childbirth and can increase by three to four times the chances their children will be stillborn.
The MPs’ report also says that Ms Greer takes “no account of the purposes of female genital mutilation, nor the lack of choice for those young girls on whom it is inflicted.
“Equating the forcible clitoridectomy of an eight-year-old girl with the voluntary body-piercing of an American teenager is absurd. “Culture can no longer be used as an excuse for inaction on securing women’s rights,” the MPs concluded.
Because the operation is often carried out in non-sterile conditions, sometimes using kitchen knives or pieces of glass, there is a risk that the child or woman could die of infections such a septicaemia.
Organizations like Womankind Worldwide works towards abolishing the practice with measures such as providing grants for traditional circumcisors – who make their living from performing the operations – to set up other businesses.