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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Connector of the Day: Julia Lalla-Maharajh

January 25th, 2010
05:56 PM ET

While the World Economic Forum in Davos hopes to bring attention to many important economic issues in the world, Julia Lalla-Maharajh has won the right to state her case to bring attention to female genital mutilation.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/25/davosdebate_blog.jpg caption ="Julia Lalla-Maharajh will join a debate during the World Economic Forum."]

Julia was working with NGO VSO UK in Ethiopia when she was first exposed to the issue and she has been campaigning against it ever since.

Click here to watch Julia's video

She’ll be heading out to Davos next week, and will state her case to those gathered for a debate on Saturday, January 30.

Female genital mutilation is a common practice in many cultures, particularly in parts of Africa and while people in the west may find it to be a severe and harsh practice, many still find it has a place.

We want to know what you think on the issue.

Do you think female genital mutilation is a cultural choice? Should it be outlawed?

Please post your questions and comments below.

soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. Anyasi Raymond

    I strongly want it outlawed but tell me, who has the power to do that?the un,eu,or governments of nations?

    January 25, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Reply
  2. Dodie

    While, Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research, the highest religious authority in Egypt, issued a statement saying: “ FGM has no basis in core Islamic law or any of its partial provisions and that it is harmful and should not be practiced." and Coptic Pope Shenouda, the leader of Egypt's minority Christian community stated: “that neither the Quran nor the Bible demand or mention female circumcision”….. However, at the village level, those who practice FCM believe it to be religiously mandated.

    Quoted from the World Health Organization (WHO):
    A June 2007 study by the WHO has cast doubt on the safety of genital cutting of any kind. This study was conducted on a cohort of 28,393 women attending delivery wards at 28 obstetric centers in areas of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal and The Sudan. A high proportion of these mothers had undergone FGC. According to the WHO criteria, all types of FGC were found to pose an increased risk of death to the baby (15% for Type I, 32% for Type II, and 55% for Type III)[citation needed]. Mothers with FGC Type III were also found to be 30% more at risk for cesarean sections and had a 70% increase in postpartum hemorrhage compared to women without FGC. Estimating from these results, and doing a rough population estimate of mothers in Africa with FGC, an additional 10 to 20 per thousand babies in Africa die during delivery as a result of the mothers having undergone genital cutting.”

    I pray that every man who supports FGM will bear NO children!

    January 25, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  3. cath holland

    Although FGM/C is still deeply embedded in some cultures,they are usually poverty stricken and marginalised communities. Most African countries have outlawed the practice, the most recent being Uganda last year. It is difficult to police in rural areas and not the best way to ensure abandonment. Many communities have already stopped practising FGM/C when appropriate campaigns have been launched. It is the responsibility of WHO and UN as well as Governments to step up to the mark and help people at grassroots level. There are many examples of successful campaigns and people are ready for change but lack resources. Communities wll develop quicker following abandonment as girls will continue schooling, they will not marry and bear children at a young age with all the complications that brings such as obstetric fistulae.(false passages between vagina and bladder or rectum causing permanent incontinence).Aid to developing countries should go directly to health budgets if we stand any chance of achieving MDGs in particular MDG 5 (To reduce maternal mortality rates by 75% by 2015). Currently a mother dies every minute during childbirth globally! It's a global disgrace!
    N.B. Achieving MDG 5 is crucial to achieving the others and yet it is lagging behind. FGM/C is inextricably linked to maternal and child health. It is a gross abuse of the Rights of the Child and no way can be considered a cultural choice since it is performed on minors.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:06 am | Reply
  4. Brent

    Absolutely. It's torture, plain and simple.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:38 am | Reply
  5. Michele

    Female circumcision is an absolutely BARBARIC, cruel and meaningless practise done by some sects of Muslims onto their women. It is a complete affront to a woman's body AS IT WAS CREATED BY G-D. If a woman was NOT made to have a clitoris, then why did G-d, aka Allah (pbuh) make it and put it there in the first place – and how dare any human being take it upon themselves to remove it solely for the purpose of controling a woman's sexual desire and pleasure. Just as a man is entitled in nature to his sexual pleasure, so is a woman!

    January 26, 2010 at 4:46 am | Reply
  6. Juan Carlos

    I will support banning FGM of any type the day I see that the same societies that oppose it start going after MGM as well.

    And if you believe that "they are two different things that cannot be compared!", well, then, you are unwittingly partly responsible for the continuation of FGM. We can't have it both ways.

    January 26, 2010 at 4:47 am | Reply
  7. armando malaya

    if that is a part of their culture then people should respect it.

    January 26, 2010 at 5:15 am | Reply
  8. Dani

    I recently did a report on FGM for a college course and found many articles supporting and criticizing it. I found one journal particularly intriguing that had done a qualitative analysis of previous FGM reports and it discovered that an overwhelming majority of FGM articles that had been published carried no real evidence that the people who practice FGM want it banned or disagree at all with the practice.

    I believe that there should be more regulation of female circumcision to make sure it is done hygienically and by choice. However, for laws to be created that it needs to be done safely resources (such as hospitals, doctors, and the necessary tools) need to be available and often in these rural areas that female circumcision is practiced, these resources are not available.

    I think our time, energy, and funding should go towards increased education, communication availability, and hospitals rather than trying to police a practice that is not necessarily unwanted.

    January 26, 2010 at 5:38 am | Reply
  9. Eugene

    FGM is an old tradition but by all means shoud be outlaw in all its practices and forms, and severe punishment shoud be brought to those who brake the law. This is a primitive, savage and cruel practice that does not bring any benefits to anybody, but suffering and severe heath issues to the victims.

    January 26, 2010 at 5:46 am | Reply
  10. Wampesa

    I believe that to condem is easy but I think one must try to understand why somethings were done in the first place.I strongly disagree with all the hullaballo of people who think that an age old tradition should be outlawed on flimsy grounds of religion.The most dangerous part of all this is that tthe practice will go underground and thus be more hard to control.

    January 26, 2010 at 6:07 am | Reply
  11. Mary Kiruriti

    Female genital mutilation should be outlawed! It is one of the worst cultural practices that go on in the world today and also in my country, Kenya. Steps have been taken to curb and it has been criminalized in the Children's Act. despite this, it goes on! only education of both parties involved can ensure that this practice is put to a stop. It is uncivilized to think that such a practice that degrades the female is good.

    January 26, 2010 at 6:20 am | Reply
  12. Joan

    Of course it should be outlawed. It is a barbaric practice designed by men to deprive women of pleasure and therefore to keep them home, barefoot, and pregnant.

    January 26, 2010 at 6:53 am | Reply
  13. Fred Wolf

    And so will male circumcision be banned too? It's only logical...

    January 26, 2010 at 7:10 am | Reply
  14. Lee

    This barbaric practice is not based on any religious edicts or customs. The Curan does not mention this mutilation which, like the burka was brought about by men in order to subjugate women and deprive them from basic body functions. This barbaric mutilation has no place in the modern world.

    January 26, 2010 at 7:14 am | Reply
  15. Madcap

    Aside from satisfying some insane sadistic need to mutilate a woman's genetailia, FCM serves absolutely no purpose. It should be outlawed and anyone who takes part in it, should be put down like the sick rabid dogs they are! PERIOD!

    January 26, 2010 at 7:38 am | Reply
  16. Jeff Mecaskey

    It seems that FGM is bad in and of itself–a perpetration of child abuse and blatant denial of a woman’s sexual and reproductive rights. What are your thought about how we can frame FGM in the larger development effort, reflected in Millennium Development Goal 3—gender equality & empowering women, as an both an end in itself and an indicator or metric of larger progressive development, particularly in areas where the practice remains endemic?

    January 26, 2010 at 7:48 am | Reply
  17. Pamela Fritzler

    Absolutely should be banned! However, this must be accompanied by much stronger education about the harmful effects–especially outreach to older women (who have undergone the procedure and believe that their daughters must do the same) and MEN of all stripes regarding the harmful effects, and real enforcement.

    January 26, 2010 at 8:11 am | Reply
  18. rob


    Ridiculous in this day and age...it servers absolutely no purpose to remove these parts from a women, NONE AT ALL!!

    Stop this, stop this now!

    January 26, 2010 at 8:20 am | Reply
  19. rob

    edit: serves...:)

    January 26, 2010 at 8:21 am | Reply
  20. Holly

    I think steps need to be made towards banning/outlawing FGM, but we have to remember this has been a part of these peoples culture for many MANY years. Perhaps, to start with, providing them with hygienic tools to perform these procedures with (scalpels, needles, even anaesthetics), and then educating them. Educating the people of these cultures, that these practices are unneccesary, in a respectful and reasonable manner, is much better than simply telling them they cannot do it.

    Education is definetely the key.

    January 26, 2010 at 8:25 am | Reply
  21. alison

    Mutilation is a much better word than circumcision. The whole point of this surgery is to remove the parts of a woman that give her sexual pleasure and this mutilation results in numerous health, sexual and psychological problems. Education is the key. In areas where women and village elders have been taught the harm of this procedure and the fact that it is not mandated by religion, there has been success in eradicating it. Yes, it should be outlawed, but more importantly, community outreach is necessary to truly eliminate the practice. As long as parents feel this surgery is "for their daughter's good" and necessary for her marriage prospects, they will continue to do it.

    January 26, 2010 at 8:31 am | Reply
  22. vuthy va

    This practice should be stopped in these days.

    January 26, 2010 at 8:47 am | Reply
  23. Norman

    If a person believes that it is religiously mandated to slice off the nose or cut off a finger, does he have the right to force his children to undergo such a thing?

    January 26, 2010 at 8:55 am | Reply
  24. H. B.

    Female genital mutilation (called "circumcision") is an obscenity, and no culture could accept it without recognizing that fact first, then deciding it was still OK to do it.

    It involves the cutting off of ALL external genital structures on a female, which includes the clitoris, the seat of sexual pleasure for a woman, and the "analogue" of the male's organ.

    This is not done for the sake of cleanliness, as male circumcision is done. It is done for ONE reason alone: to deprive the female of her sex drive.

    This allows the male to need no skill in pleasuring the woman. He can spend all his time on his own pleasure. It also means she cares nothing for sex at all, except to get her babies. Which means she's hardly likely to become unfaithful to the man.

    It is done ENTIRELY for the benefit of the man. So all he needs to do is climb on and climb off, without a thought at all in his head for HER. She is just a "thing" he uses, nothing more. And it is done because the cultures that do it don't care two puffs of comet gas about their women, their health, and least of all their happiness.

    It is easily perpetuated, too, because the older cut women have no reason to want a benefit for younger women that was taken away from themselves forever. So women actually continue to approve of it.

    That makes it all the more obscene.

    Many times, this "cutting" is done without any anesthesia whatever, and usually little to no sanitation. Anything, from a rusty razor blade to a piece of sharp glass, can be used. Many girls die from this procedure itself, while others have constant infections because those "folds" are there for a purpose: to keep infection at bay from the interior of her body. Many other complications can arise in women who have been subjected to this cutting, and often stay with them for life.

    These cuttings are usually done at puberty, but sometimes even younger girls are cut.

    This practice is the very height of cruelty, and based on the very lowest of regard for the female of our species.

    There is nothing good – nothing at ALL – that can be said about female circumcision – unless it is the benefits it gives to the MALES.

    As I said, it's OBSCENE.

    January 26, 2010 at 9:05 am | Reply
  25. OldKid

    Regardless and indifferent of religious connotations, some traditional habits can be easily identified as a violation of human dignity and as a backward practice. It is the responsibility of the intelligent persons in any society to help banning any such irrational ritual which causes suffering and entails medical and psychological harm.

    January 26, 2010 at 9:06 am | Reply
  26. dave minsch

    Female genital mutilation must be stopped!

    Medical orgone therapy can bring about feelings of expansion and the capacity for deep, tender love. The goal of treatment, while certainly not always reached, is to regularly experience a fully gratifying orgasm. With this complete discharge one maintains an optimal level of health.

    Female genital mutilation inhabits these women's life for their whole life!

    Go to and learn more about The American College of Orgonomy.

    January 26, 2010 at 9:12 am | Reply
  27. Amina El Sadr

    The practice is barbaric. As a woman, I firmly believe it must be outlawed and severe punishment must be in place for those who choose to ignore the law.

    January 26, 2010 at 9:41 am | Reply
  28. Marjorie Lewis

    Female genital mutilation (female circumcision) is one of many cultural practices that are encouraged at the local level but are not policed by national enforcement authorities in the countries where it is commonly known. It will only stop when it becomes such a pariah to the rest of the world that political and religious leaders put pressure on their own peoples to discontinue its use. We must speak up for girls and women around the world who have no voice to protect themselves.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:05 am | Reply
  29. Mike Wise

    It's a no-brainer.

    In fact even putting things like this up to debate is like debating slavery. It gives credence to fundamentally morally unaccepatble behavior.

    And if it leads to wars – so be it. Somethings are intolerable.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:08 am | Reply
  30. Jorge

    All barbaric things related to all forms of fascism(islamism included) should be BANNED totally and inconditionally. female circumcision is barbaric and totally unhuman and repulsive!

    January 26, 2010 at 10:09 am | Reply
  31. ye11owcake

    Can there even be a discussion about this? Any western state has laws outlawing violence by one human being to another, and the infliction of
    bodily harm to another person. Any genital mutilation (male or female) IS
    therefore illegal. FGM is the worse offense by far, and must be rigorously prosecuted.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:24 am | Reply
  32. Roy audi

    A cultural / religious choice should'nt include changing the morphology of the human body.
    It's simply very controversial to the idea of a perfect body from a perfect creator. The use of the body should be a consequence of the mind and not an imposed action.
    So cultural and religious movements should focus on enrichinig and educating the mind so that we could live in harmony and peace.
    It's really not that complicated...
    FGM will not only cause health problems, but will affect very negatively the concerned person and her conception of the world and others.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:35 am | Reply
  33. S.T. Walker

    Female genital mutilation is criminal–never mind all the religious /cultural excuses–and has to be outlawed. It is a crime.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:37 am | Reply
  34. Helen Papworth

    As there are already laws in place to try to eradicate this in many countries, such as Ethiopia, can an expansion in the education of women as well as men (not just through formal education) play a greater role in changing the culture in these areas? (I understand, from my own limited experience, that many women accept FGM in those regions where this harmful practice occurs on a large scale, and some are instrumental in forcing their own offspring to undergo FGM.)

    January 26, 2010 at 10:42 am | Reply
  35. Geeza

    One of the central principles in Islam is male domination over women. Female circumcision is a logical outcome and extension of that principle in the same way that paedophilia is a logical outcome and extension of the principle that only unmarried men can be Catholic priests. My niece suffered female circumcision and I was totally outraged. When I confronted her mother she said, "Well, it is the tradition".

    January 26, 2010 at 10:42 am | Reply
  36. Sarah

    It is a cultural choice. And female genital cutting in its most severe forms should be outlawed.

    But it can not logically be outlawed altogether unless countries like the U.S. also outlaw male genital cutting, under the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

    Boys and girls deserve the same protections under the law.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:42 am | Reply
  37. Abdou

    Any practice that is not part of Western or jewish culture is bad/harmful. If the male circumcision was not part of the jewish culture, the West would have ask it to be outlawed.

    Dakar, Senegal

    January 26, 2010 at 10:51 am | Reply
  38. Al Edan

    We should not accept FGM in any form. I do strongly support to outlaw & ban female genital mutilation in worldwide..
    Africa mainly to be focused to implement an international law banning
    such horrible and mindless mutilation of innocent young girls.
    I hope the world will wake up and forbid this unnecessary killing and murdering scheme.
    Good luck to all

    January 26, 2010 at 11:06 am | Reply
  39. Al Edan

    I do support to ban this horrible and unnecessary human mutilation

    January 26, 2010 at 11:07 am | Reply
  40. Rajan

    All such social evils in various levels of severity (not restricted to Muslim women only) , whether sanctioned by religion or not, will disappear only with increased awareness among women themselves through better education. However, it will take time – enormous time – for such awareness to take hold, as demonstrated by even the well-educated Muslim women willingly wearing the burqa and also justifying it. No amount dictat, legal or voluntary, will make any difference.

    January 26, 2010 at 11:15 am | Reply
  41. Thapelo Rametsi

    Please also include male mutilation. This must be the choice of the individual when a grown-up to able to make his/her own informed decision.

    January 26, 2010 at 11:18 am | Reply
  42. cath holland

    To those who are comparing female and male "circumcision",you are completely mistaken as there is no comparison whatsoever.
    In order for the 2 procedures to be the same then the Glans (tip of penis) would also have to be excised along with the foreskin. The external female genitalia are integral parts of the organ of reproduction.

    January 26, 2010 at 11:43 am | Reply
  43. cath holland

    A question for Julia on the show (e.mail refused to send!):
    How can we wake up the sleeping giants WHO and UN whilst young girls continue to undergo the horrors of FGM/C?

    January 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  44. Lisa Hogg

    I am amazed this is even posed as a question, as if there could be any other possible answer but NO. As a mother I could not imagine the basis of any decision to do this to either my son nor daughter, but I do agree that it will be a demanding undertaking to get this practice outlawed all over the world, specifically in the smaller villages where it is probably executed in the most brutal form.

    January 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  45. Get Real

    If done in Africa it is FGM, but if done in the west it is call 'Designer Viginas' typical.

    January 26, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  46. Ricco

    For women it's now called mutilation and for men it's not mutilation – it's circumcision... Maybe it is not mutilation at all? If it's good for men, then why isn't it good for women??? There's something here that reeks of gender inequity and reverse sexism. Someone isn't looking at the total picture – just the women's side and making it an emotional issue rather than a logical issue. It should be examined it in terms of both male and female – not just women. It's not just a women's issue!!!

    January 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  47. Mahal

    Yes, it should be banned. Having been born and raised in Ethiopia, I have seen one 'live' and trust me, there is nothing 'cultural' about it. It is simply barbaric and will always be a cruel act on young girls/women.

    January 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  48. Victor

    Is it endorsed by Islamic practises like burkha (face covering)etc? Such practices of mutilating the women facial covering or genital mutilatilation should stop.It is the men who have enforced it. They should repeal it.

    January 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  49. nmn

    to armando malaya:
    would you say the same thing about cannibalism??

    i think it should definitely be outlawed. if women in these countries/cultures/... can't make themselves heard because of partriarchal society, it is the duty of the rest of the world to stand up for them.

    January 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  50. Harriet

    I don't know why the question is even asked??? Already just seeing the question leaves me speechless...of course it should be outlawed...but a law alone won't change mentalities!

    January 26, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  51. tony


    January 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  52. Thomas Mathew

    90% of above comments are against FMG. Very few dissent on the ground that:
    1. It is like male circumcision only,
    2.It is cultural,
    3.The opposition to FMG stems from Jewish/ Western interests
    As most of the commentators pointed out, none of the pro-FMG arguments have any base.Apart from being barbaric ,it is male chauvinistic to the core- women are deprived of sexual enjoyment.No doubt, it should be banned just like Sati (immolation of wife in husband's funeral pyre) was eradicated from India long ago.But just outlawing alone will not help, the practice might go underground.Vigorous enlightening by the clerics is required.Incidentally ,'Dunia' is a good movie from Egypt(where FMG is widely practiced though discouraged officially) themed on FMG

    January 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  53. Evangelist

    It's an evil practice which ha sno place on this earth.When you circumcise a woman you are taking off the parts which leaves a woman sexually excited.It simply means it's the man who enjoys sex and the woman has no feelings,usually common among muslims who treat women as sexual objects and for purposes of child bearing.It's evil and should be banned and stringent sentences should be put put in place for the would be offenders.Women are not slaves but humans like man and we are all equal before the Lord Almighty both male and female.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  54. jesse

    While i fully support the eventual elimination of this practice i agree that since most instances FGM do not occur in any regulated place or fashion, very serious thought must be put into the best means of truly effecting an end to the practice beyond simple legal jargon. And it is not just the minds of the men of practicing cultures that must be changed but that of the older women as well who have had it so engrained into their cultural and social belief systems that they themselves support and carry out the practice.

    It is done at such a young age, the girls are largely powerless to do anything to prevent it, this would have to be a very large, and mostly grassroots effort to essentially change the attitudes and practices of communities as a whole. that is a much different thing that will require a completely different level of effort than simply 'banning' the practice.

    even if perpetrators are identified arrested (who may themselves be family members of the victims) others will likely take their place if the ideology behind it is still there.

    I fully support the ban but believe it will be ineffectual without a much more significant and much more direct effort towards changing the cultural attachment to the practice.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  55. Cassie

    Thanks Holly, one of the few people with sense on this thread.

    FGM is a tribal practise – not an islamic practise as some people claim.

    Whilst FGM could be ban in the US, such law would not hold in certain tribes and cultures. Better to educate people first. I have a friend that was circumcised and thinks it is the best thing since sliced bread.

    Bye the way, is anyone calling for the banning of male circumcision as well?

    The US/CNN should stop policing the world.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  56. Anthony

    Outlaw it: however, whenever, wherever, to whatever extent it can be outlawed. Outlaw it.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  57. Greg Twiss

    If people would desist in the totally irrational and utterly unfounded belief in a God then issues like FGM would be mute.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  58. Zaki

    Those that think male circumcision is equivalent to FGM do not seem to understand that in order to be equivalent male circumcision would have to be more of an ablation of the penis itself and not the foreskin, protecting the gland, keeping it oversensitive but also providing a hot bed of possible infestations. The spread of Aids among African circumcised males is significantly lower than those with circumcision. The one may modulate the relative pleasure factor, the other eradicate it. FGM is more akin to castration, and it should be banned without any discussion nor consultation with those upholders of a monstrous tradition. Cannibalism was a tradition once so was Suti in india.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  59. Jefe

    Neither female nor male circumcision of non-consenting minors for non-therapeutic or non-medical reasons should be allowed anywhere, regardless of the cultural, traditional or religious reasons of the consenting adults involved.

    Humans are born with an intact body (with extremely rare exceptions), and medically unnecessary surgery should be the choice of the person who owns the body, not the parents nor the community. If the person WANTS to be circumcised (or have any non-therapeutic surgery performed), them let them choose to have it done to HIS / HER own body.

    If male or female circumcision is the right of OTHER persons to decide, then what about the cutting of other body parts that do not kill the victim? For example, is there anything wrong with cutting a minor's fingers or toes or shape / trim the outer ear or excise one's nipples, etc. if it happens to be the preferences of the parents, or the custom of the community? What makes the cutting of one body part for a segment of the population acceptable, and not the cutting of something else? Surely NONE are acceptable.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  60. Daria

    All forms of non-religious circumcision should be banned, because it only inflicts pain and suffering on the one experiencing it. Some have said that we should create regulations ensuring a hygienic and safe environment for it to take place for those who choose to have it done – okay, but a baby can't choose it. And I doubt very much that any young girl who understands what is going on would choose such a thing. I'm all for freedom of religion and cultural expression, but when it involves harming a human being and is not based on actual religious scripture or expression, but rather a tradition of oppressing women in the case of FGM, or financial gain for the medical community in the case of routine (non-religious) circumcision of male babies in the U.S., then it should be forbidden.

    January 26, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  61. John Piers Cilliers

    It's certainly not circumcision; it is mutilation pure and simple! The people who are the perpetrators of this horrific practice should have their genitals removed completely and then see how they feel about that!! Most of these horror practices that still abound in this so called “modern world” of ours, 99% of them are thought up by men. As a man I have to admit real shame when I see what woman have to put up with in this day and age! It makes me sick to think of it quite frankly!

    January 26, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  62. MartinLux

    The term circumcision which was used in the link from your home page to this subject is wrong. The procedure of excision is, as you coirrectly mentioned above, a mutilation inflicted on women. Wether it be for religious or traditional reasons or because of pure ignorance (guess thats's a repeat...) its MUTILATION!!
    Unfortunatly the religious and traditional reasons that are generally invoked prevent the afflicted woman from cutting off the pertpetrator's pecker in retribution...
    Do these mothers and fathers not love their daughters more than the obtuse future son-in-law?? Education and helping these parents to move beyond their (often) squalid living standards will go a long way in stopping this...no matter the religion or the background parents want was is best for the child, sometimes they are just misguided....

    January 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  63. ifine

    Its amazing how westerners seem to want to determine and define what is good and acceptable and what is not.

    Western women are doing the same thing under different "glorified names" eg Labia Minora Reduction (Labiaplasty, Labioplasty), Clitoropexy – Clitoral Hood Reduction, Secondary Labia Reconstruction, Clitoral Reduction, Labia Majora Remodeling

    Most logical emphasis should be on the hygienic conditions under which the female circumcision is done.

    This double standards is such a shame!

    January 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  64. José

    it has to be OUTLAWED!!!! no mater what, it is extremely different when a grown up woman decides to do it than when a child is tortured and abused in this way without her own consent or knowledge of the consequences!!!!

    January 26, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  65. Elisa

    What can I do to help to get this out of the world?
    Is there anybody in this world who can justify the mutilation of a child?

    January 26, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  66. Robert Janusko

    Female circumcision is an abomination and must be declared illegal, immoral and unethical. It may be an ingrained cultural practice, but so are cannibalism and other practices that civilized societies have deem abhorrent.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  67. Maeva Edwards

    Female circumcision should be outlawed … it is cruel and the young girls that are put through this have no choice…Burning witches at the stake was also a religious and cultural matter but there is no way we would allow that to happen now.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  68. Sarah

    Jefe and Daria, thank you!

    Also worth noting is that the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics do NOT recommend routine non-therapeutic neo-natal circumcision, so why are we still cutting our infant boys? The belief in any benefit to male circumcision is painfully outdated and strongly refuted by modern medicine.

    No one would argue that the effects of male genital cutting are as catastrophic as female genital cutting. That's obvious. But on principle, if we don't believe infant and young girls should be subject to cutting, then we should similarly protect infant and young boys from being cut for NO GOOD REASON.

    It's called equal protection.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  69. Joanne

    How many unspeakable atrocities have been commited and continue to be commited in the name of religion [ beliefs ]. Religions were created by man to control the masses. Education is key.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  70. shomsai

    ifine are you kidding??? you have to be kidding!!! female circumcision (at its extreme) cuts of the labia minoria and majoria and the cllitoris, then stiches the vaginal opening closed leaving a space the width of a pencil lead for urine and menstural blood to pass through. How can you compare that to cosmetic vaginal rejuvenation? not that i support that; but by comparing these two things you minimize the horror of this practise. please read up, inform yourself, and reconsider, FGM is barbaric and must be stopped.

    January 26, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  71. MartinLux

    Ifine: The difference between the "Western" women and the unfortunate ????? Eastern??? women: the one from the West have a choice....a dreaded liberty in the machismo world of female excisers!!!

    January 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  72. erialc

    Why is this even a question, seriously

    Those few people above equating female genital mutilation with routine male circumcision seriously need their heads examined, I'm speechless

    it is NOT even remotely related

    January 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  73. Wambattu

    A pre islamic tradition originated from Africa. This was brought to Arabia by Abyssinian slaves. However this this practice did not mix with Islam because prophet did not encourage it.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  74. erialc

    ifine seriously, how could you even make that comparison

    depriving girls of their womanhood, of the fulfillment of their whole being and their sexuality, risking their lives, scarring them for life -how does that even compare to grown women deciding they dislike the aesthetic appearance of their vagina and would like to change that -not chop off their entire clitoris and lose all feeling for life..

    January 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  75. saltzman

    It's unfortunate that something like this has to be debated. What a question to be even asked in a civilized society.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  76. erialc

    Thank you Joanne for the wise words, so true

    January 26, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  77. greg atkinson


    January 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  78. MartinLux

    Wambattu: isn't unfortunate that he did not ban it.....perhaps religion would not have come into this debate....

    January 26, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  79. R. Donnelly

    It is a real comment on the supreme selfishness of Muslim men who require that their wives have all pleasure removed from sexual relations with their husbands, while the husbands can assault them with impunity and apparently get enhanced pleasure from sex with someone who can't enjoy it.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  80. Thomas Mathew

    erialc and shomsai have aptly exposed the hollowness of pro-FMG arguments equating FMG with cosmetic vaginal surgery ( not that I support the latter)

    January 26, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  81. Elizabeth Layton

    Hi Julia, many congratulations by the way. I've just read on the WHOA! http://www.patenmaedchen.de/en_home.html website that organisations like Plan International do nothing to protect the girls from FGM. Is this true? Do you know anything about this? I'm worried because I sponsor a girl through Plan and could never support an org like this if this is true. Please if you can, clarify this for me one way or another. Best wishes, Liz.

    January 26, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  82. Keith, La Rioja, Spain

    Obviously such savagery against young girls and women can only be judged heinous. I have not read the Quran (and do not wish to, but I have not read the "christian" bible either), but I doubt that it says, and would bet my last €uro on it, that it does not say:
    amputate women's sexual organs;
    40 lashes for a woman driving a car (Saudi Arabia);
    40 lashes for drinking beer in public (Malaysia):
    90 lashes for a school-girl's improper behaviour (Saudi Arabia);
    women should cover themselves from head to toe in the ridiculous burqa;
    women should not be teachers, doctors, have their own shop or business (Afghanistan);
    and the list goes on and on.....
    But it is the inherent blindness and stupidity of men believing women are lesser souls and should be treated as such, that led to the rise of the ignorant Taliban...
    All religions are blind and stupid – and machista.
    Long live women – the better half of this planet!

    January 26, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  83. Wake up People!

    @ Juan Carlos, @ Fred Wolf, @ Sarah, @ Abdou, @ Thapelo Rametsi, @ Ricco, @ Cassie – are you people all out of your friggin' minds?

    There is absolutely no comparison of female mutilation as described in this article to male circumcision... none. Period.

    @ ifine – all those lovely terms you use above for "western FGM" – are used to describe practices by those consenting adults who chose it for themselves – unlike the millions of young girls who have it forced upon them. Double standards my *SS.

    Cath holland – you're spot on!

    You have got to be a couple of sandwiches short of a full picnic if you think that the removal of a bit of foreskin from a penis (at whatever age for whatever reason) is akin to removing a woman's primary erogenous zone.

    January 26, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  84. Ejiro Daramola

    It is so ironic that most of these people who practice such a terrible act also sometimes have a religious or cultural reason for doing it.

    This is a very simple matter. Anybody who practices this evil, questions the wisdom of God and what each and everyone is given as a human body. What they are saying is that they can improve on it be it Female FMG or male Circumsicion, or have a right to amend the body.

    A woman must get to the age of consent and decide for herself. The same goes for males.

    Thank goodness even though it is never acknowledged in our lives,or we refuse to pay attention to it, there are natural laws that govern our lives.

    It is a cying shame that no matter how much we claim to be developed, there are still such things that continue to darken our lives, and we watch in helpless disbelief when such things occur.

    I pray for you and what you are doing Julia Lalla-Maharajh. And for everyone you reach through your efforts, may it be the lightening of many other candles to this cause.

    I am lucky I was not mutilated. The first time I even heard about it , I still had to ask my mother if I was mutilated. I come from a soceity that does this when a woman is 21 yrs old. I wonder how many times I would die in 44 minutes if this was perpetrated on me.

    But it is our lot. Who raises gives birth and raises a man. In all cases every man has a mother. And yet these men rule our lives in such a barbaric way. Apart from trying to outlaw such things, the way we raise these evil men should also be addressed. How can a woman have a child that grows into a man and then he feels this is okay. What a monster.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  85. Francisca Chesca

    FGM is a crime against womanhood built and fueled over the centuries by men's greedy desire to control women and perpetually keep them subversive. It's fires are also stoked by ignorance and lack of education of the women folk who execute this dastardly act.
    Women are mutilated for one purpose: To eliminate or reduce to the barest minimum female sexual desires and sensual enjoyment of sex.
    Men enjoy sex, circumsied or not and they feel deeply revived and even see it as natural medicine for a body!. Why can't women do so. why do men want to control women's sexuality in Africa, Asia and the Arab world? Why hide under religion and health management and all such crap?
    Do they know how many women die under this act? Do they know how many children have HIV/Aids transmitted into them from this act?
    Do they know how many women are psycologically marred and scarred by this act? Do they know how many homes have been destoyed by this act?
    Perhaps we need laws that will prohibit the perpatration of this act but....then again, who are the law makers in these nations?....MEN, MEN, MEN of course!

    January 26, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  86. Dr Fulata Moyo

    FGM is one of the most dehumanising experiences that women and girls have to go through in the name of faithfulness to culture and sometimes religion. While the women who do it do so in the name of faithfulness to culture, there are also so many groups of women (and some men) have resisted it for some time now. Yet compared to the effort, the impact has not been as much. Whether Julia's Davos input will be more impactful or not, I think it is important to acknowledge every effort to end this evil.

    I hope that this Davos effort can build on all the other exisiting efforts especially by those by local groups of women and men who otherwise have no access to Davos nor CNN...but their work has still made some difference to one or more girls and women.

    As part of the Decade to Overcome Violence, the World Council of Churches based in Geneva, through it Women's project has been working with some networks which are making such difference.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  87. MJ Lange

    Men who consider this circumcision should think of what it would be like to have their sexual organs completely scraped away with a dirty raiser blade and to suffer the painful scares and infections long after those horrific 44 minutes are over.
    Mutilation and humiliation!
    Shame on the mothers who subject their daughters to this torture.
    Educate these women and teach them solidarity.
    Thank you CNN and Julia Lalla-Maharajh for addressing this important issue!!! Don't stop-the world must know.

    January 26, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  88. Juan Carlos

    In response to "Wake up People!":

    "....@ Juan Carlos, @ Fred Wolf, @ Sarah, @ Abdou, @ Thapelo Rametsi, @ Ricco, @ Cassie – are you people all out of your friggin' minds? There is absolutely no comparison of female mutilation as described in this article to male circumcision... none. Period...."

    Well, you are entitled to your, er, "energetic" and "categorical" opinion, but it is just that, your opinion.

    Clearly you support male circumcision to the point of describing it as just a "removal of a bit of foreskin from a penis", and you are probably American (by the use of the word "friggin'"), but to the majority of the world's population in Europe, Latin American, non-Muslim or Jewish Asia and non-Muslim non-tribal Africa, male circumcision is pretty shocking, albeit more tolerated than any of its female counterparts.

    Keep also in mind that "removing a woman's primary erogenous zone" is, contrary to popular belief, not the most common form of female circumcision. The Sunny style, consisting on the removal of the female prepuce covering the clitoris, is far more prevalent and definitely more akin to male circumcision.

    Nevertheless, the usual comparison of male circumcision with infibulation or other extreme forms of female circumcision is at best an incorrect "apples and oranges" match and, at worst, deliberately disingenuous and obfuscatory. Yet this need to establish "a difference" arises from a probable support and acceptance of male circumcision from which you may not be able to free yourself, at least not yet.

    American efforts to fight female circumcision will thus sound hollow as long as the men and also women of the USA (the only Western society that circumcises its baby boys under the pretense of "medical reasons"), adhere to this Orwellian "doublethink" out of their own ignorance and try to have it both ways.

    January 27, 2010 at 3:18 am | Reply
  89. Mohammad

    As a muslim, I am ashamed of that this sub-human behavior is being attributed to my creed of people.

    I oppose this barbaric act.

    If this is Islam, I am not a Muslim. If this is religion, I dont want to be part of any organized religion.

    January 27, 2010 at 9:40 am | Reply
  90. Al Edan

    We shouldn't be debating on this aweful practices....
    We must call the world body to ban this and cut it short at once.

    January 27, 2010 at 11:35 am | Reply
  91. Thomas Mathew

    In response to Juan Carlos
    This discussion is not about pro/anti male circumcision .There is nothing to infer that Julia Lalla-Maharajh either supports or opposes male circumcision which is a practice prevalent among Muslims and Jews . In some cases it is a medical necessity . Due to certain urinary problems , this was done on my nephew ( Roman Catholic, Indian).It is said that male circumcision keeps penis clean which could lessen the chances for cancer of the male genitals ,and by extension cervical cancer of the female spouse. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing medically positive about FMG sole purpose which is deprive women of sexual pleasure. Disfiguring of female genitals for this' moral/ cultural ' cause is no way justifiable.

    January 27, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  92. Juan Carlos

    In response to Thomas Mathew:

    "....This discussion is not about pro/anti male circumcision .There is nothing to infer that Julia Lalla-Maharajh either supports or opposes male circumcision which is a practice prevalent among Muslims and Jews... ."

    I was replying to a poster under the pseudonym "Wake up People!". I was not replying to Julia Lalla-Maharajh.

    "....In some cases [male circumcision] it is a medical necessity....". In very, very few cases, yes. Primarily in cases of phimosis when it does not respond to other non-invasive, non-surgical treatment. However, as you probably now, in the United States (and ONLY in the US) routine infant circumcision is peddled as a 'medical procedure', performed wholesale in a medical setting to millions of 2-day old babies. In the United States, it is not a practice restricted to Muslims and Jews.

    ".....It is said that male circumcision keeps penis clean which could lessen the chances for cancer of the male genitals ,and by extension cervical cancer of the female spouse....." No, cleaning (or lack of) does not eventually lead to penile cancer or cervical cancer. It is infection with the Human Papilloma Virus, through sexual transmission, which could lead to those two cancers, and only in the presence of other co-factors. However, these type of mis-perceptions (i.e. lack of cleanliness, increased urinary tract infections, cancer, aesthetics, societal desirability or acceptance, and the more irresponsible one of 'HIV protection'), are normally taken out of context and used in a propagandistic way to support male circumcision. In that way, they are just counterpart to the same ignorant ideas floated by millions around the world as to the "need" of female circumcision.

    Which brings me to your initial sentence ("This discussion is not about pro/anti male circumcision "). Maybe not in a technical sense, but not in the reality that we are dealing with two practices unfortunately inherited from a more ignorant time period in our human history. Unfortunately, the respective societies that support them seem unable to shake them off for once and for all.

    It is not about fighting male or female circumcision, Thomas. It is about fighting ignorance. Everywhere.

    January 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  93. Thomas Mathew

    In response to Juan Carlos:

    Thank you Juan for going much elaborate on the subject. With regard to your views on fighting ignorance ,I am one with you.

    January 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Reply
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    October 29, 2010 at 5:54 am | Reply
  95. Racheal Metry

    FGM has to be outlawed. It is the worst form of torture and sexual abuse that could happen to any girl. In fact, it is worst that rape.

    December 21, 2010 at 4:09 am | Reply

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