“Circumcision” or “Mutilation”? Con’t

Over at the NYT’s Tierney Lab, “Richard Shweder, a cultural anthropologist at the University of Chicago and one of the organizers of Saturday’s debate on this topic at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting” responds to the issues raised is Tierney’s post:

[I]n recent years there have been two major scientific reviews of the medical literature and an exemplary Gambia-based research study, which have raised serious doubts about the supposed effects on mortality, morbidity and sexuality that are so often attributed to these customary surgeries; yet, as far as I know, there has been absolutely no mention of these reviews and studies in any American newspaper or on NPR, although one might have thought they were sufficiently eye-opening and significant to warrant media coverage.

Any reasonably objective assessment of the risks and consequences of female genital surgeries should begin with the epidemiologist and medical anthropologist Carla Obermeyer’s comprehensive and critical reviews of the medical and demographic evidence on the topic (published in the journal Medical Anthropology Quarterly). Her first publication reviews and critiques the available literature on female genital surgeries through 1996; her second publication reviews the subsequent literature from 1997-2002. The third key source is a research report by Linda Morison and her Medical Research Council team published in 2001 in the journal Tropical Medicine and International Health. That research, conducted in the Gambia, is the most systematic, comprehensive and controlled investigation of the health consequences of female genital modifications yet to be conducted.

Here is a link to the WHO-Lancet study on female ‘circumcision’.