The case for genital mutilation

William Saletan in Slate:

WatchesFor thousands of years, we humans have lovingly mutilated our children. We give birth to them, swaddle them, and then cut their genitals. Some people condemn these rituals; others defend them. Now reports from Africa are shaking assumptions on both sides. Our mutilation of girls may be killing them. Our mutilation of boys may be saving their lives.

According to UNICEF, at least 100 million women, largely in Africa, have been genitally disfigured. Two months ago, the World Health Organization reported that these women, compared to their uncut peers, were up to 69 percent more likely to hemorrhage after childbirth and up to 55 percent more likely to deliver a dead or dying baby. For every 100 deliveries, the WHO estimates that female genital mutilation kills one or two extra kids.

More here.

[And in case you are wondering what the picture of watches is doing on this post, consider that Edward Said once told me the following story: Said was in Cairo when his watch broke and he needed to buy another one. He saw a shop window displaying some nice watches and walked in and asked the shopkeeper to show him some watches. The guy replied, “We don’t sell watches, we do circumcisions here.” Said asked him why he displayed watches in the window then. The guy said, “What would you rather have me display?”]