Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 7 April 2007

ERITREA: Might is right, govt bans female circumcision

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

By Berhane M. Tekeste

April 7, 2007 — On Wednesday, 4 April 6, 2007, the government in Eritrea issued a proclamation arbitrarily banning female circumcision because "female circumcision is a procedure that seriously endangers the health of women, cause them considerable pain and suffering besides threatening their lives". Indeed, the method that was being used to perform female circumcision for many centuries is barbaric and should have been arrested long ago.

That said, if that is all the reason for issuing this proclamation, here is good news: In this day and age, female circumcision can and is being performed safely, pain-free, aseptic, without suffering or threatening life in any health center, thereby bringing an end to the barbaric surgical interventions including an end to the grave morbidity and mortality associated with it. And Eritrea has enough of such health centers. That being the medical status of male/female circumcision, why would any one be denied the right to have the procedure performed in a health center? What other reason does the government have to arbitrarily alienate the people of Eritrea from their cultural heritage?

But if the purpose of the proclamation were to abolish female circumcision as a cultural heritage, regardless of how it is performed, then the proclamation is totally off the mark. The government has no right whatsoever to ban a cultural heritage.

In Eritrea, Female circumcision is a deeply rooted cultural heritage that is not amenable to legislation but to the absolute will and consents of each and every family. As the smallest unit of society, the family has the last word over female or for that matter also male circumcision and all other cultural heritages. No law can force people to abandon their cultural heritage because they have the inalienable right to develop and preserve their cultural heritage such as language, religion, music, dance, art etc, and pass it on to future generation. For all purposes and intent, people are essentially what their cultural heritage is.

As it is written, the proclamation appears to be directed towards abolishing the procedure not the cultural heritage itself. The government or any group of medical professional has every right to ban any barbaric/cruel method used to preserve cultural heritage. But why would the government of Eritrea want to abolish a cultural heritage that is practiced by, practically, the entirety of its population? Simple, because it can. It is the blatant rule of might.

Eritrea is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. Yet and though not necessarily for the same reason, female circumcision is a cultural heritage practiced by all Eritreans. There is and never have been any recorded and/or documented incident of an uproar, uprising, or opposition against this particular cultural heritage in Eritrea? So why try to do away with it?

Female circumcision is no different than any other non-therapeutic and/or aesthetic surgery. Eritreans just like every other human being have right to medical/surgical services as long as it is paid for one way or the other? So, what happens if an adult Eritrean woman reports to a health center and requests, for whatever reason, to have circumcision? Is her inalienable right to the procedure going to be denied for no other reason than by order of the government of Eritrea?

The cultural heritage of any given society is characteristic of that society. It doesn’t have to be accepted or conform to the cultural heritage of other society. Nor do others have any right to impose their cultural heritage upon others?

Female circumcision as a cultural heritage is a matter for each and every family to decide. Given access to safe, sanitary and pain-free methods, the family should have the option to do it or not. No one but the family and only the family has the right to preserve or to abandon its own cultural heritage. If people are forced not to preserve their cultural heritage even under sanitary conditions in their own homeland, then they will be forced to take care of that somewhere else. And there are plenty of options for that.

Proclamation 158/2007 can ban only the method of female circumcision but has neither reason nor standing to abolish female circumcision as a cultural heritage.

I can’t wait to see the day when Eritrean parents are imprisoned for exercising their inalienable right to preserve their cultural heritage under all safe, sanitary, and pain-free conditions.

The author is an Eritrean-American residing in New Jersey, USA. He can be reachedat bmtekeste@yahoo.com



The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 8 April 2007 12:00, by Kifly Merhu

    A response and a question to Mr. Berhane M. Tekeste.
    What is wrong with the ban of the female circumcision?
    What is the good of female circumcision?
    Is that realy a good calture?

    repondre message

    • 8 April 2007 17:16, by Berhane M. Tekeste

      Hi:
      1) What is wrong with the ban of the female circumcision? That is not my contention. I did not say it is wrong to ban FC. What I said was the governmental authority in Eritrea has neither right, standing, or reason to ban FC.
      2) Like religion, there is nothing good or bad about Female circumcision. What is good for one ethnic group may or may not be good for a different ethnic group. Just like religion, what is good for Christianity may not be good for Islam. What is good for Catholics may not be good for Protestants.
      3)Again and by the same token, there is nothing good or bad culture. What is good for the culture of one society may or may not be good for another society.

      That said, each side is entitled to preserve its conviction of what is right/wrong, good/bad. Thanks for engaging

      repondre message

  • 10 April 2007 15:48, by Zmm New

    My first reaction to this commentary was a very angry, disbelieving one. How can anyone say there’s nothing bad about female genital cutting, also known as female genital mutilation? If I follow the flawed logic presented in the article, Berhane M. Tekeste is saying that the procedure is barbaric and not the act; therefore, by making it clinically sterile and medically safe, the problem is solved.

    But what does FGC actually entail? Let’s talk frankly. It involves the removal of a woman’s clitoris. The rationale? It comes from a horrible and mistaken belief in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and a number of other countries, that a woman who can feel sexual pleasure will not be able to control herself, and will bring shame and dishonor upon her family and her husband.

    What would a similiar operation on men look like? It would probably entail the removal of the penis, with some accommodations left in place for the calls of nature. There would be some amazing positive consequences if this were carried out worldwide. This act would effectively eliminate all cases of rape in the world, which would be amazing given the trauma that rape is wreaking around the world these days. It could easily be done in a clinical and sterile environment to make sure that the procedures were painless and had no medical consequences. Scientists could probably come up with other ways of perpetuating the species.

    But who in their right minds would suggest doing this, even if it were to solve all the rape cases in the world?

    Let us not confuse traditions with values. There are many traditions that are based on ignorance, misunderstanding and injustice, and deserve to remain in our past. I am glad to see that the Eritrean government has decided that female genital cutting is one of those, and I can only hope that they will enforce the new law. My own belief, and one that is echoed in major religions around the world, is that our bodies were created by God, regardless of the traditions we subsequently chose to follow, and His creations are sacred, to be respected as they are.

    As someone with very traditional Abesha parents who chose not to subject their daughters to this practice, I not only respect and live by the many values with which they raised us, but I and my uncut body will be forever grateful!

    repondre message

    • 10 April 2007 20:01, by Berhane M. Tekeste

      Hello Zmm New

      The reason give for banning FC is absolutely of medical nature that is/was caused by the barbaric method used in accomplishing it. Medicalization has resolved those concerns. The government of Eritrea has not given any other reasons. From the medical point of view,therefore, FC has no different complications than any other non-therapeutic surgery and thus there is no reason to reject FC on medical grounds. What is left is then a reason that is all SUBJECTIVE: What you consider bad may or may not be bad for others. A good example of subjuctivity is Religion: There is no bad or good religion. What is bad for Christians about Islam is not bad for bad for Moslems and vice versa. There is no bad/good culture. What is bad culture for you may be good culture for others.It is all subjective.
      What is child abuse for you may be fulfillment of obligation for others. I will post an article in this regard today,stay tuned. Check out google under news,type in Eritrea. Just like all other non-therapeutic surgery, FC is a personal/family decision. The government or anyone elso has no business to tell you what personal decision you should or shouldn’t make. Cheers:) Berhane

      repondre message

    • 10 April 2007 20:34, by Berhane M. Tekeste

      Hello Zmm New
      "Berhane M. Tekeste is saying that the procedure is barbaric and not the act; therefore, by making it clinically sterile and medically safe, the problem is solved."

      That is not what I said. What I said was:The proclamation appears to be directed towards abolishing the procedure not the cultural heritage itsel. Meaning: The government is not opposed to FC is a cultural heritage but to the Method this cultural heritage is effected( brought about), you can read the article again.

      "The rationale? It comes from a horrible and mistaken belief in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and a number of other countries, that a woman who can feel sexual pleasure will not be able to control herself, and will bring shame and dishonor upon her family and her husband." To you, that sounds horrible. To others not. It is subjective.

      No one must have FC done. But you can’t deny the right of those who want it?

      repondre message

      • 11 April 2007 21:23, by Zmm New

        You ask, "But you can’t deny the right of those who want it?". My reply would be, in short, Yes, I can and I would without hesitation. There is no evidence that anyone is willingly subjecting themselves to this...and a lot of evidence to the contrary. Get a library card, do an online search — read some books.

        In one of your posts you had said, “So, what happens if an adult Eritrean woman reports to a health center and requests, for whatever reason, to have circumcision?” Trust me when I tell you that this would be about as likely to happen as an Eritrean man reporting to a health center and requesting that his penis be removed. It is no accident that this is done to girls at a very young age, and often within a few days of their birth.

        I will withdraw myself from this useless debate, because God knows that your responses prove, once again, that education can co-exist with ignorance with little apparent discomfort. Our continent will surely continue to suffer unnecessarily as long as people continue to defend the indefensible, mindlessly argue the obvious, and refuse to stand against harmful practices as long as they never have to suffer the consequences. I would be curious to see how sanguine you would be if an essential part of your sexual anatomy was lopped off in the name of cultural heritage and tradition.

        Let me leave you with this. In the Horn of Africa, there is a long-standing tradition in some ethnic communities that any young man wanting to prove himself to his potential bride’s family has to produce the (how to put this delicately) severed genitalia of another man. A well-courted young woman, in fact, would be able to boast several of these hanging around in her home, proof indeed of her desirability and the prowess of the men seeking her hand in marriage. To use your words, there is and never have been any recorded and/or documented incident of an uproar, uprising, or opposition against this particular cultural heritage in Eritrea or in Ethiopia. So why try to do away with it?

        It’s a barbaric practice, you say, leading to lost lives in many cases? Hmmm... not unlike female genital mutilation. Well, let’s bring some anesthesia and sharp scalpels to the mix and make it, as you say, “no different than any other non-therapeutic and/or aesthetic surgery”. As you say, "given access to safe, sanitary and pain-free methods, the family should have the option to do it or not. No one but the family and only the family has the right to preserve or to abandon its own cultural heritage."

        Right?

        repondre message

        • 12 April 2007 04:45, by Berhane M. Tekeste

          “Yes, I can and I would without hesitation” Lady, you can’t deny people of their inalienable right based on your lousy whims. You must have a reason for that. Seek help in learning how to make sense of what you scribble, you dork.

          What would you do about a voluntary request for FC? No one asked you if, when, or it ever happens. Instead of a straightforward answer one way or the other, you start comparing apples with oranges simply because they are both fruits? Woman, stop fantasizing. There is no need to be hysterical about chopping off your favorite male genital organ, penis. Rest assured, it will never happen. Penis is going to be there for you forever. You are having a nightmare: Wake up, that cultural heritage of the Afars of Ethiopia chopping off penis is extinct it is no more real, be happy.

          No one is trying to defend the indefensible. That is your imagination. I neither support nor reject FC. My challenge is to provide reasons why FC must be abolished: Medical reasons are indubitably moot; other reasons are simply subjective and constitute no grounds whatsoever to ban FC. You preserved your clit, you are hyperSexy. And that renders you a perfect object in service of male entertainment and pleasure fantasies. Good for you, that is your choice. You ain’t got any right to impose that on others. Enjoy what you got. Good luck. Case closed.

          repondre message

          • 13 April 2007 13:53, by Zmm New

            This is a topic that is worth discussing seriously and much more profoundly. Clearly, you are incapable of doing so. My apologies for taxing your limited intellect with big words and even bigger concepts — I mistook you for a thinking, rational person.

            Only a profoundly insecure man would resort to such a pitiable, pathetic response. I would suggest therapy if you can afford it, and prayer if you cannot.

            But do seek help, and quickly.

            repondre message

            • 13 April 2007 17:35, by Berhane M. Tekeste

              The comments are all out there for everyone to see. Indeed, the topic deserves and is worth discussing seriously and much more profoundly and that is why I initiated it in the first place. BUT YOU WERE ABUSIVE FORM THE OUTSET TO YOUR LAST COMMENT PERSISTANTLY COMPARING APPLES AND ORANGES and engaging in personal attacks, infantile tantrums and vituperative harangue, that I simply ignored. In the end, you compelled me to respond in kind and you got what you wished for and deserve.

              The issue is simple: If Female circumcision should be banned, then give me valid reasons? But what came out from you was: if it is not good for Males then it is not good for Females too, try it if you want CRAP. That exposed your intellectual imbecility, disability and your academic bankruptcy, to say the least. No one asked you to compare and contrast Male vs Female circumcision, which would be an interesting topic for another day.

              The commentary in point is/was solely about ‘Banning Female Circumcision’ and my challenge is and remains: Give me valid reasons for that, period. Now, try it again?

              repondre message

          • 13 April 2007 21:57, by Zmm New

            LMAO!! I thought I was having problems with my internet connection, but it seems like someone is deleting my posts! If it’s the webmaster, then I humbly request that you delete the last post, too, which was truly offensive.

            But I’m thinking it’s Mr. Berhane himself! How hysterically funny! If ever I needed proof that you were deeply insecure, this is it!!

            Thanks for providing me with the biggest laugh of the day! I am truly entertained that you are so threatened by my words that you feel you must remove them. It is quite telling given the subject at hand — of course, you probably don’t even get that!

            Be well. Really.

            repondre message

Comment on this article


 
 

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.


Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


The theory of African president and prime minister, working together 2014-11-22 05:32:12 By Steve Paterno November 21, 2014 - Africa is notoriously known for political instability, stemming in most cases, over power struggle among the ruling elites. Often times, the best and quick (...)

The UNAMID internal report on mass rape in Tabit. 2014-11-21 06:09:21 What UNAMID really said about their investigation of mass sexual assaults on Tabit: The internal report on what investigators found By Eric Reeves November 20, 2014 - On November 12, 2014 (...)

Bullying Darfur 2014-11-13 18:13:39 By Namaa Al-Mahdi November 13, 2014 - “We broke their backs in Abu Karshola, I doubt they have recovered since,” said a prominent Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) member about their counter attack on (...)


MORE








Latest Press Releases


Sudan Democracy First Group condemns wave of arbitrary arrests in Sudan 2014-09-25 05:17:35 Sudan Democracy First Group 25 September 2014 - In a desperate attempt to prevent a series of events commemorating the victims of the September 2013 protests, Sudan’s notorious National (...)

HRW calls on UN rights body to press Sudan to investigate murder of peaceful protesters 2014-09-24 21:24:09 Human Rights Watch One Year On, No Justice for Protester Deaths (Geneva, September 23, 2014) – The United Nations Human Rights Council should call on Sudan to account immediately for the death (...)

Hundreds walk for peace in South Sudan 2014-09-23 08:30:16 National Platform for Peace and Reconciliation (NPPR) PRESS RELEASE Juba, 21 September 2014 - Hundreds of people took to the streets of the South Sudan capital Jubato ‘Walk for Peace’and demand (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2014 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.