Scandinavians — rather than quietly recoiling as immigrant mothers take their Europe-born daughters on vacation to Africa be circumcised — are fighting the traffic in female genital mutilation (FGM).
Sweden, Norway and Denmark are doggedly pursuing perpetrators of FGM, practiced by African and Middle Eastern cultures. Those perpetrators are mostly the immigrant mothers of the young girls.
Jail sentences, record damages and controversial immigration laws are Scandinavia’s weapons in this war. Meanwhile Africans — who have immigrated with their families for a better life in northern Europe — wring their hands, imploring Westerners to understand that they are doing what they think is best for their daughters.
“The reasons given for female circumcision are traditional, cultural and religious. It is believed to encourage cleanliness, to control promiscuity, enhance the males’ sexual pleasure, preserve virginity and protect against unwanted pregnancies,” said Timnit Embaye of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Kenya.
But Scandinavian leaders refuse to interpret tolerance of female circumcision as politically correct.
FGM “is a very serious assault on children,” said Norway’s Secretary of Justice Knut Storberget. “It is important that they will be given a chance to value this independently when they are old enough to understand.”
Excellent. I know, these people want to do what is best for their children. But the countries in which they have chosen to live won’t succumb to the moral relativism argument and I salute them for it. If you wish to be a citizen of these countries, female genital mutilation is non-negotiable – it is inhumane and intolerable. I hope the entire world takes note and realizes there is no room for political correctness when it comes to this act of barbarism.
I know, I’m outspoken, but I see this as a crime – and a heinous one at that, on the same level as honor killings. That argument that it’s a “cultural thing” that requires our “sensitivity” won’t wash. Murder is murder. Mutilation is an assault of the most devastating variety.
I’ve always had a great admiration for the Scandinavian countries, ever since as a boy I read about how they responded to Hitler’s demands for them to hand over their Jews. (And yes, I know about Sweden’s ambiguous relationship with the Reich, but also know they accepted Denmark’s Jews after they were ferried out of the country.) I see this response to an evil act as a continuation of this spirit of humanity, and this article reaffirms a belief I’ve always held that there is a lot we can learn from them.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.