SIO73: FGM in the UK, with Chantelle

I’m joined by Chantelle Boduel, who recently completed her Masters in Human Rights Law at the University of Kent in Brussels. She did her thesis on FGM in the UK, and I thought it would be very educational to have her on to speak about what she learned. See the attached Word document for her sources.


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5 Replies to “SIO73: FGM in the UK, with Chantelle”

  1. Would you, Thomas, punish a parent if they raped their child because it was their custom, but “just” once.

    I guess when you answer this question you will know how should we treat those who send their daughters to undergo FGM.

  2. I don’t inhabit a black and white world where there’s no consideration given to the fact that you’re literally talking about imprisoning parents and putting all of their children up for adoption or in foster care. I don’t know how you’re so cavalier about that decision, but ok. I think the analogy poisons the well. The mindset difference between doing a cultural practice like FGM vs raping your own child? Come on.

  3. I agree that rape is probably worse that FGM (I use the word “probably” because I don’t know and I don’t feel like I can decide that) so it might seem like poisoning the well but I think the argument stands.

    It’s a harm that happened and can’t be undone and in this scenario, it wouldn’t repeat (thus the punishment wouldn’t serve as prevention of not doing it again – to that particular child). That child will live with that their whole life (rape in my mind is worse as a “one-off” but FGM is something that you’re reminded a lot, given it’s not something hidden – but pls, again, I don’t feel like I can say this on an authority).

    Also, I don’t see the world in black and white. I wish I did but I don’t. You might mistake my short post as not giving it enough thoughts since you see only the result of that thought process but I thought about that a lot (same as about giving young daughters to old men as wives, something Britain also struggles with given their Muslim population).
    I can understand that the parent wouldn’t see it as something bad, just something they do because…they always did (it’s their culture), why should they be imprisoned for that…

    But you know, ok, let’s not go there – would you care to give me another equivalent example of something as hideous as FMG is? Something that would compare and we can go with that…

    And another question. I feel like your reluctance of being ok with imprisoning of the parents (although most of that reluctance probably steams from unwillingness ruining those kids lives in one more way) is kinda based on the fact that “parents don’t know better” (given their culture).
    Let’s assume there was awareness campaign, really good one so people know (were told) FMG is bad, mkay. Would you THEN be ok with imprisoning them?
    Is there, for you, any time period after which you would be ok with that?

    Anyway, thanks for the response.

    And absolutely off topic (don’t want to PM you extra for that), listed to wethepeoplelive episode with you and it was (for me) one of your best performances I’ve listened to.

  4. Honestly, I think rape is actually less awful compared to FGM especially if it leaves no enduring physical harm and isn’t done to prepubescent children. FGM is essentially a sex crime done to children (touching someone’s genitals without consent is that. I would not call it an outright rape since it is not penetrative, but in any other context it would be something at least like molestation) that is on top of just that also permanently mutilating. Rape doesn’t always result in physical injuries and even if it does, these usually heal.
    I’d argue that of the two if there has to be ranking, FGM is worse and the religious/cultural justification is what fools us into thinking it isn’t that bad.
    If some random New Age sect had a ritual where 8 or 9-year olds were simply touched at the genitals for about the time an FGM takes by adult women to “purify them”, what would we think of that? I think your rape analogy is not only perfectly valid but I’d go even further and say FGM is worse.

  5. You wouldn’t have to go so far as a New Age group. There’s the Brit Milah where guys without medical training circumcise a boy, then suck the penis clean of blood and so on with their mouths. It’s a Jewish tradition, and sometimes results in obvious medical problems. It’s also legal in the United States, unlike FGM in the UK.

    Nowhere in the episode did Thomas or his guest try to say FGM wasn’t so bad. It’s important to note that there is both a religious and cultural component to the practice that complicates any attempt to end it. There are also considerations to be made for doing what’s best for the child in a situation that could result in their parents going to jail, especially if it just lands them with other relatives who believe the same thing.

    From a practical standpoint, how do you know for sure they are going to have this done? The most extreme end would be removing children from any of these people, but we’re talking about people from Africa to the Middle East, Christian and Muslim.

    I like Thomas, but I somehow doubt he’s going to suddenly come up with a magic answer of how to convince people to change an important cultural and religious belief out of nowhere.

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