Canadian Left Calls for ‘Neutrality’ on Honor Killings & Female Genital Mutilation

Source: Michael Kravshik)

Cultural relativism has reached a new point of absurdity in Canada when the “barbarity” of female genital mutilation and honor killings is questioned and becomes a controversy.

A recently introduced manual by the Government of Canada intended to teach newcomers about Canadian values and Canadian society has been met with ongoing hostility from left-wing Canadians and politicians over the choice of words in describing female genital mutilation and honor killings. Jinny Sims, the immigration critic of the opposition New Democratic Party of Canada, suggested the word “barbaric” might “stigmatize some cultures.”

Aside from official protestations, everyone can imagine the type of cultural relativist rhetoric that has been used to attack the Conservative government for releasing this guide. The blogosphere has been filled with “liberal-minded” Canadians continuing in the same vein as Ms. Sims, suggesting the term “barbaric” is somehow discriminatory or offensive to a particular group. However, reasoned thought on the matter should conclude on the exact opposite; that it is offensive to those forced to endure such ordeals to call them anything but barbaric. Unfortunately, sensitivity towards this group (as per usual) is ignored.

Taking up the relativist banner was also none other than Justin Trudeau, front-runner for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, and son of the infamous Canadian Prime Minister who brought multiculturalist policy to Canada. He attacked the Conservatives for using the term “barbaric,” and suggested that the term was a “pejorative” and that “there needs to be a little bit of an attempt at responsible neutrality.”

Of course the term is a pejorative, as it should be. Have we gone so mad with political correctness that we can’t even call cold-blooded murder of a family member “barbaric” in case it might “stigmatize” or offend? Rightfully, Mr. Trudeau was forced to step back from his comments as even members of his own party realized he had gone too far. This was done in the usual callous fashion people expect these days from politicians: Trudeau claimed that his words were somehow taken out of context and that they may have “misled” people.

He certainly didn’t mislead Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who shot back at Trudeau saying that the Liberals are, “so wrapped up in political correctness, they can’t call things for what they are anymore…They’re afraid of offending someone or appearing to be insensitive by actually making a judgement about culturally barbaric practices.”

Here we have a blatant example of the folly of cultural relativism. Had Trudeau’s comments not been so utterly contemptible that they were questioned by his own colleagues, it is safe to assume he would have continued his attack on what he would call “conservative values.” While Mr. Trudeau attacked these values for political reasons, what is always more shocking is when regular, intelligent people actually believe that using the term “barbaric” to describe heinous practices is somehow unjustified or discriminatory. This is not a “conservative” value judgment. It is an affirmation of Canadian values, Western values, and unequivocally morally justified values.



Female genital mutilation: This barbaric ritual cannot be given credence as ‘cultural’



It is shameful that this country has never prosecuted anyone for inflicting this dangerous and painful procedure on small girls.

I am glad you covered the issue of female genital mutilation last week. It is shameful that this country has never prosecuted anyone responsible for inflicting this dangerous and excruciatingly painful procedure on small girls. Your articles have spurred me on: I have written to the home secretary and to the Lib Dem Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone. I am also going to write to every MP with a sizeable community from the Horn of Africa in their constituency. I urge other readers to do something along those lines.

The softly-softly approach hasn’t worked. Enabling communities in this country to resist the pressure to mutilate their girls has achieved little. Over many years our impotent hand-wringing has condemned countless girls to a lifetime of pain and infection and possible infertility. Would we tolerate it if white women had to have their scar tissue cut open on their wedding night?

Vera Lustig



While, according to the Oxford Dictionary, your use of the word “circumcision” is correct in contemporary usage, the term derives from the Latin “circumcise” (to “cut around”). For boys, this is the removal of a small section of prepuce, leaving intact the glans with its promise of a lifetime of erotic pleasure.

For girls, “female circumcision” is a violent amputation that removes the clitoris, the main, and for most women the most satisfying, physical source of pleasure. It is emphatically not circumcision, nor simply “genital mutilation”, and the physical, sensual and emotional scars that remain are profoundly distinct from those of male circumcision.

It is deeply disturbing that the Observer does not name this horrific practice for what it is – clitoral amputation.

Professor Dr Suzanne Buchan

University for the Creative Arts, Farnham College


In your editorial about female circumcision you refer to the “queasiness on the part of officials to intervene against a traditional practice”. Does this include doctors? If evidence of gunshot or knife wounds can be passed on to the police then one assumes that child mutilation can be, given that they are all probably the result of illegal acts.

I hope your heartbreaking, but encouraging, article is just the start of a sustained campaign against this horrendous activity.

Andrew Dean


I first encountered this practice as a medical student in obstetrics and then again when working as a doctor in reproductive and sexual health. As the feature rightly points out, it continues to be inflicted on British citizens despite its illegality. Worldwide there is no indication of any reduction in the number of young girls made to suffer this procedure in countries with a strong cultural tradition. The health risks, both physical and psychological, are evident and raising awareness and education are essential if this practice is ever to be ended. How this is to be achieved is problematical but your article is a step in the right direction.

Dr Christine Mustchin

Hove, East Sussex

Your reference to “this brutal cultural practice” perpetuates the tendency to devalue the term “cultural”. It is regrettable that it is increasingly applied to all sorts of cruel, perverse and degrading deeds. My dictionary defines it as “cultivated: well educated: refined”. Genital mutilation is none of these. It may be described as “practice” but one that is revolting and criminal. As your article rightly points it out: “It is condemned by many Islamic scholars and predates both the Qur’an and the Bible and possibly even Judaism, appearing in the 2nd century BC.” It should have been repudiated long ago along with other barbaric rituals of the distant and murky past. Genital mutilation should never be given credence as something “cultural”.

Professor PP Anthony


Female Genital Mutilation – UK


Source: journeymanpictures(

The controversial tradition at the heart of African culture has now reached the shores of Europe. Today, over 500 British girls are estimated to have undergone the procedure of female genital cutting.

Many young girls would get excited at the prospect of going on holiday but Jamelia knew that the plane she boarded was taking her to be ‘circumcised’. Jamelia was cut in an empty mansion by an old woman, strangers held her down and a clean razor was only used when more money exchanged hands. “I remember the blood everywhere”, Jamelia says, “one of the maids actually saw her pick up the bit of flesh they cut out.” Miriam‘s womb was accidentally sealed when she was cut and now she cannot have children. “It will stay with me until the day I die.” Now, the NHS confirms that cutters are flown over to the UK to cut girls in batches – a cheap alternative. The UK has more girls at risk of bring cut than any other European country and as yet no-one has been prosecuted for the crime.


Source : (Carlene Firmin)

MDG : UN Women CSW57 The Commission on the Status of Women

The UK pledged £35m to combat female genital mutilation worldwide during a summit this month at the UN headquarters in New York. Photograph: Catianne Tijerina/UN Women

This month, I spent a week at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The session was on violence against women and girls. About 6,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government delegations from around the world were represented at CSW. Nearly 100 NGOs were from the UK.

Debates ranged from child marriage to girls’ access to primary school education, issues where the UK seems quite progressive. But there are others where we stand alongside countries seeking a solution to a problem; female genital mutilation (FGM) is one such challenge.

Three million girls are thought to be at risk in Africa, but the UK is not immune to this form of gender-based violence. No one knows the exact figures, but it is estimated that in the UK, 20,000 girls are at risk and 66,000 women are thought to be living with the consequences of FGM.

FGM is a curious term. It often gets banded about in meetings and referenced in speeches without clarity about the real experiences of women and girls. This results in professionals and the public distancing themselves from the ensuing injury and trauma.

There are four forms of FGM, which range from the removal of part, or all, of the clitoris to the sealing of the vaginal opening through a repositioning of the labia. The consequences include infection, urine retention and fatal haemorrhaging immediately after the procedure; damage to the reproductive system; complications in childbirth; and mental health difficulties.

The trauma of the procedure and enduring impact cannot be overstated. It is a risk faced by girls born in the UK, who often go missing from school so that the procedure can be undertaken abroad. It is crucial that vulnerable children are identified in advance, and that FGM is considered a potential cause if girls do go missing.

During the CSW session, the UK government pledged £35m to prevent FGM through education and by challenging cultures or arguments that seek to justify the practice, which spans 28 African countries in addition to the US, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and other parts of Europe. Ascribing the practice to one particular culture or country is inaccurate. And there is no one justification that is used. Some view it as a preservation of hygiene or cleanliness, others as a matter of “honour”, and some consider it as a means to avoid social exclusion. Taking a preventive approach within the UK, and around the world, is critical. Unlike France, in the UK no one has yet been convicted for FGM.

It is crucial that FGM is recognised as violence and as a live issue for UK children. Professionals such as teachers and midwives need to be aware of the signs and able to offer the appropriate protection to either prevent the abuse, or the harmful consequences. While the government’s revised action plan on violence against women and girls, published earlier this month, demonstrated the progress that has been made in tackling gender-based violence, it also illustrated how much there remains to address. Female genital mutilation is one of those reminders.