Friday, February 6, 2009

Female Circumcision in the US

Like its male counterpart, circumcision of females has two histories. First it is a ritual or customary practice among tribal societies (mostly in Africa) and some Islamic communities. Secondly it is a medical intervention, justified by Victorian (and, in the USA, some twentieth century) doctors in exactly the same way as they rationalised circumcision of boys: to deter masturbation, to treat obscure nervous disorders such as hysteria, neurasthenia and epilepsy, and thereby to promote health.