An Australian child rights body has drawn attention to media reporting of a Bendigo FGM scare campaign by anti-Mosque Councillor Elise Chapman.
In a widely reported Tweet on 22 February Cr Chapman tweeted “Oh, could we have this here too? Would you like to have your fanny sliced off?”. The obvious answer to Cr Chapman’s second, rhetorical question is “No!”.
The Australasian Institute for Genital Autonomy (AIGA) says the true answer to the first question is “Oh, Councillor Chapman, we DO have this here too!”.
The photo was pixelated, but was actually of five BOYS not five GIRLS. The original unpixellated photo appears here. [EXPLICIT PAGE WARNING]. It is from a Muslim website arguing that genital cutting of both BOYS and GIRLS is not obligated by Islam and contradicts the directives in the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.
The photo tweeted by Cr Chapman was reported in the media as “graphic female genital mutilation photos” (the news.com stable); “an image depicting female genital mutilation” (The Herald-Sun) “a photograph of five girls who appear to be no older than two crying as they lie on the floor with blood seeping from them” (The Age); “an explicit image of five girls’ mutilated genitals” (Bendigo Weekly). All wrong.
The ABC with customary caution stuck to “an image depicting genital mutilation”. Correct.
Says AIGA Chair Paul Mason “Cr Chapman’s views about Islam in rural Victoria are a matter for the good people of Bendigo. The real news in this item is that all these media outlets have now described what Australians do to about 17,000 boys a year as “mutilation”.
“We still use taxpayer Medicare benefits of about $3million a year to perform unnecessary and irreversible surgery on the genitals of boys and intersex children without their consent. In the case of boys no reason is given for the payment.”
Australian parents from many cultures allow their children to be “circumcised” with the best of loving intentions, but there is no scientific evidence of any future benefit to boys or girls in cutting pieces off their sexual organs. Many intersex people grow up unhappy with uncertain results from a childhood filled with repeat surgery. It is an abomination whether performed for parents’ religious reasons, or in the hope they will be less sexually active, or purely to ensure the child’s genitals are “normal” or “cleaner”.
Says Paul Mason “The UN Charter of Human Rights, The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Resolution 1952 of the Council of Europe all show that genital cutting of girls, boys and intersex children is a breach of trust and human rights when it is not therapeutic. Yet Australian law, custom and media discriminate between girls and boys in this dark corner of children’s rights.”
“Until the human rights of children are accepted as the true reason to oppose unnecessary genital cutting, not just debates about medicine or un-Australian culture, our collective capacity to protect children from genital mutilation of the worst kind will be impaired.”
AIGA calls on the Australian media to call a spade a spade and name up genital cutting as a breach of rights whoever the victim is, not just when they – wrongly – think it is girls under discussion.
Media Contact: PAUL MASON, Chair, AIGA +61 487 003 510
[Note: Cr Chapman’s Twitter account seems to have been as suspended at 1/3/15. Copy of her tweet 22/2/15 available on request]