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Scandinavia fights female circumcision

Sweden, Denmark and Norway try to stop genital mutilation among immigrants at home and abroad.

A counselor holds up cards used to educate women about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Minia, Egypt, June 13, 2006. Scandinavian courts are taking action against immigrants who still practice FGM on their daughters. (Reuters)

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — When she was 11, a Swedish-born girl was taken on vacation to her mother’s native Somalia. The mother wanted to “make her daughter clean” and paid a man to cut off her daughter’s clitoris and labia while two women held her down. 

Afterward, the girl was stitched to her urethra. 

No anesthesia was used.

Last year, at age 19, a Swedish court convicted the mother for those illegal acts, awarding the victim record demages.

Scandinavians — rather than quietly recoiling as immigrant mothers take their Europe-born daughters on vacation to Africa be circumcised — are fighting the traffic in female genital mutilation (FGM). 

Sweden, Norway and Denmark are doggedly pursuing perpetrators of FGM, practiced by African and Middle Eastern cultures. Those perpetrators are mostly the immigrant mothers of the young girls. Jail sentences, record damages and controversial immigration laws are Scandinavia’s weapons in this war. Meanwhile Africans — who have immigrated with their families for a better life in northern Europe — wring their hands, imploring Westerners to understand that they are doing what they think is best for their daughters.

“The reasons given for female circumcision are traditional, cultural and religious. It is believed to encourage cleanliness, to control promiscuity, enhance the males’ sexual pleasure, preserve virginity and protect against unwanted pregnancies,” said Timnit Embaye of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Kenya.

But Scandinavian leaders refuse to interpret tolerance of female circumcision as politically correct.

FGM "is a very serious assault on children,” said Norway’s Secretary of Justice Knut Storberget. “It is important that they will be given a chance to value this independently when they are old enough to understand.” 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/europe/090916/scandinavia-female-genital-mutilation