This is a guest post by AKUS
There seems to be no lunacy to which the Guardian cannot find a way to subscribe.
A remarkable – and nauseating – article by one Rosa Freedman who also writes under the name of Rosa Davis entitled Circumcision – above the law? presents the interesting proposition that denying women the right to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) impinges on their freedom and is an “equal rights’ issue that should be taken up by the courts in the UK.
Freedman was apparently attracted to the issue by an article by the Guardian’s own Dan Rickman (also known to the Guardian’s CiF readers as LWOJ – Left Wing Orthodox Jew) who wrote a thoughtful article on the topic of circumcision in the Jewish World section of the English language newspaper Ynet, the on-line version of Yediot Achronot.
No doubt, like me, reading the sub-header to Rickman’s article, she initially wondered if the article referred to an ancient Druidic ceremony practiced in the Brit-ish Isles, showing that the English are, in fact Jews, or, perhaps, vice versa:
Brit ceremony lies at heart of Jewish religious and cultural identity.
then realized her mistake. “Brit”, of course, refers to “Brit Milah” – the circumcision ceremony, or, literally, the “covenant” (brit) of circumcision (milah).
Freedman is, according to the potted bio helpfully provided by the Guardian, “currently a researcher on human rights at Queen Mary, University of London. She has previously written under the name Rosa Davis“. She apparently sensed that the undue emphasis placed on male circumcision to the exclusion of females by both Jews and Moslems was an injustice to women and an infringement of their human rights (!!). “Surely”, she asks rhetorically, “religious freedom (to be circumcised) cannot be given solely to males?”
Having the law only permit male circumcision is, Freedman says, “an anomaly”!!!!
Freedman generously agrees to allow male circumcision to continue in the UK (citing the discussion of circumcision mentioned in Rickman’s article, she leads by saying “These are the arguments that convinced me to circumcise my own son”). However, she mounts the barricades for women’s rights on this important issue of FGM –insisting that it is a matter of equal rights for women to have the freedom to choose to undergo the horrifying, usually unsanitary procedure of FGM, whose sole purpose is to eliminate the sexual pleasure women might enjoy during the sex act, presumably so they will be less likely to be attracted to someone other than their husband.
“Religious grounds have long been cited as the reason for this anomaly. Britain prides itself, rightly so, on its freedom of religion. Why then is male circumcision allowed at any age, and female circumcision proscribed even after a woman turns 18? Surely religious freedom cannot be given solely to males. ….I am not advocating the abolition of male circumcision. However, the law needs to create guidelines that are applicable to all persons regardless of creed, gender, or religion. The existence of different sets of rules for different groups can only be seen as placing some people on a pedestal, elevated above the laws that the rest of us must follow.”
This is the first time I have seen FGM represented as a “freedom” and “equal rights” issue. Has this woman never actually investigated what the practice and results of FGM involve, and whether it is a practice women happily undergo in pursuit of their “human rights”?
Oddly enough, the fact that she uses the last name “Freedman” in preference, apparently, to her married name, and the bizarre topsy-turvy view of the world she displays on CiF along with the eagerness to display her ignorance there make me wonder if she is yet another of the Seth Freedman clan, inflicting their weird opinions of everything and anything on an unsuspecting Guardian readership.
Can you imagine what a woman who sees FGM as an “equal rights’’ issue researches, and, heaven help the women of England, possibly teaches?
A couple of thoughts of my own on this horrifying topic:
It should be noted that FGM is practiced quite widely by Moslems (e.g., in Egypt, it is very common) and rarely among Jews, notably those from Ethiopia. Since FGM is widespread in Africa, doctors in Israel have reported the practice among Ethiopian Jews arriving from Africa. It would be wise to see that it is no longer practiced in Israel – or elsewhere – a potentially much more serious topic than worrying about their “freedom” to mutilate their women.
Rosa Freedman makes the astonishing claim in her article that:
“The health argument is merely a coincidental, although happy, one. Were this to be the decisive factor, then surely circumcision should be extended to all male children at birth as has recently occurred in some American states. Moreover, according to this line of reasoning, circumcisions should all be performed by doctors, or medical practitioners, and at a time that is optimum for the health of the child rather than at a religiously prescribed point in his life.”
I think she has a typo and meant to refer to “African states”, not “American states”, where circumcision performed for health reasons is a voluntary and performed by a doctor (many Jews prefer the skills of an experienced mohel (Jewish ritual circumciser) to the fumblings of a young doctor, of course). But in any event, if she did mean “African states”, Israel has sent teams of doctors to Africa to perform the simple operation as part of an effort to reduce the incidence of AIDs. They do not, I am sure, perform FGM in the interest of some loony left idea of “equality”.