The World Health Organization estimates that up to 140 million girls worldwide are currently living with the consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice most common in Africa, the Arab Middle East, and among migrants from these areas. Additional evidence suggests that – though FGM has no foundation in Islamic law – the likelihood of experiencing FGM is greater within Muslim populations of these regions.
As we posted last September, however, a Guardian report by staff feature writer Homa Khaleeli (Female Genital Mutilation: Mothers need to say no‘, Sept. 8) made the following claim:
Although Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities carry out FGM, mainstream spiritual leaders from all three religions have denied that the practice stems from religion.
Of course, we could find no evidence of any “denial” by any ‘Jewish spiritual leader’ that FGM might stem from Judaism – likely because, contrary to the implication of the passage, Jewish communities do NOT practice FGM.
As both CiF Watch and Elder of Zion demonstrated at the time, scholars have observed the near complete absence of the practice within ancient and modern Jewish communities. Additionally, while it may have been once practiced by an extremely small number of Jews in Ethiopia, the practice died out when they moved to Israel. So, given that there are practically no Jews remaining in Ethiopia today, it is extraordinarily unlikely that Jews anywhere in the world are currently practicing FGM.
In fact, the same day we published our post the Guardian – evidently responding to quite a few complaints – removed the offending passage and added the following:
More recently, a CiF Watch reader emailed us an article from earlier in the year that appeared in the print edition of the London Evening Standard (Islamic leaders ‘must set FGM example for other religions’, Jan. 2), written by staff writer Anna Davis. The report quoted a blog post in Huffington Post by a FGM survivor named Leyla Hussein similarly advancing the false claim that Jews practice FGM:
Again, the implicit suggestion that FGM is just as likely to occur in Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities is simply absurd.
To cite just one example, a 2012 study at the Beersheva Mental Health Center of Ben Gurion University, published in the Journal of Israeli Psychiatry, by Dr RH Belmaker, included the following passage:
Jews from Arab countries where FGM is practiced do not practice FGM. However, major immigration of Jews from Ethiopia to Israel permitted study of this practice. We confirmed the report that Ethiopian Jews did practice FGM in Ethiopia [but] we reported the dramatic and total cessation of this custom among this community after immigration to Israel.
As Elder noted, you’d think that professional British reporters covering the issue would at least note the Israeli model, and explain the country’s success in eradicating FGM in hopes that such progress could be emulated in other communities – especially given the fact that 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are reportedly at risk of FGM in the UK each year.
To suggest that FGM is practiced within Jewish communities – and indeed within all religious traditions equally – is a gross fabrication, and represents the worst kind of political correctness.