Most Sierra Leoneans and Africans in general probably are unaware that today, February 6th, was years ago declared "International Zero-Tolerance For Female Genital Mutilation Day".
On this day, February 6th 2014, we are delighted to announce the New SiA Magazine - now called SiA and the Shabaka Stone. The New SiA Magazine is the first of its kind to boldly celebrate Bondo or Sande, our traditional women's associations in Sierra Leone and other parts of West Africa. The New SiA Magazine is the first of its kind to boldly defend the rights and dignity of our mothers and grandmothers, our female ancestors and our powerful African spirit.
The New SiA Magazine is the first to focus on raising awareness about the traumatic psychosexual impact of anti-FGM campaigns, racist images and dubious youtube videos that graphically parade, shame and demonize circumcised African girls and women.
The New SiA Magazine is the first of its kind to challenge the racist singling out of circumcised African girls and women as "coerced" and "mutilated" while white European, American, Canadian, Australian and other western girls and women "freely" request and undergo so-called female genital "cosmetic" surgeries. We challenge the sexist hypocrisy that male infants and children can undergo "circumcision" for religious, cultural or hygienic reasons but the tiniest cut on an African girl is condemned as barbaric "mutilation" and child abuse.
In our promo video attached, The New SiA Magazine confronts these vile images of circumcised African women and labels them for the sexualized, voyeuristic, racist and colonialist propaganda they represent. We counter these backward images with positive representations of the resilience of African people, circumcised and uncircumcised, when we are oppressed.
The New SiA Magazine is a declaration to radical anti-FGM activists that there is no battle waged yet that can defeat the African Spirit.
Enjoy the promo, be troubled by it, but above all have the courage to "like" it and "share".
2/6/2014 08:21:08 am
It is a delight and a relief to see some new material on this excellent website after such a long time – and clearly the time has been well spent. Congratulations, Fuambai, on this courageous, highly significant, and long overdue initiative. May it mark a turning point by bringing an element of balance into a public discourse dominated by biased and misinformed media presentations and pronouncements from police and prosecution services which are more reminiscent of a medieval witch-hunt than of a supposedly tolerant multi-cultural society.
2/7/2014 06:15:57 am
Thanks for the kind words Mike and encouragement. It does feel like a Medieval witch-hunt and many circumcised women and girls are living in fear of this persecution in England, France and many other western countries.
2/7/2014 06:18:06 am
Asking people, and especially women around the world to "support" and tolerate the cultural practice of FGM is akin to asking us to accept Sati, the Hindu practice of burning Indian widows in funeral pyres, or the proliferation of prepubescent Dancing Boys among male-only gatherings in Afghanistan, or the age-old torturous binding of Chinese women's feet that occurred for centuries (and done willingly at that), which Christian colonists also lobbied to ban at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Chinese eventually outlawed in 1911. And just because something has been ritualistically practiced for hundreds of years doesn't necessarily make it ethical, or humane, or, more importantly, justifiable. The Jewish and Islamic practice of male infant circumcision is also barbaric, and while no written documentation of it exists requiring it to be performed on either male or female infants in their ancient texts, we're supposed to believe that the male foreskin is some ritualistic offering or sacrifice, or as this Israeli judge recently decreed: “Removal of the foreskin prepares the soul [of the baby] to accept the yoke of Heaven and study God’s Torah and commandments.” Wow!!!!! [The mother is still being fined $140.00 for refusing to force her infant to undergo the circumcision while all the so-called experts profess her son will suffer a lifetime of personal shame for having his penis intact: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php... ] I did read your article, by the way, and thank you for providing well-researched historical and factual information and context [ in particular: "One thing that western feminists need to understand is that the original ideology that supports these practices among peoples of Mande or Nubian descent is profoundly matriarchal and not patriarchal, in contrast with the Abrahamic traditions." Excellent point there. ] Education on a global scale is key.
2/7/2014 07:13:07 am
Hi again Tatania, as I mentioned to you on facebook, the message and video I posted was aimed at circumcised women and girls who contest the label FGM as an ethnocentric, racist and sexist concept imposed on us - whether as an outsider you "support" or tolerate what you call FGM is up to you.
There needs to be an important differention: If an adult woman decides out of her free will and without societal pressure to have a genital cosmetic surgery or a circumcision, this should be her own business. But in Anti-FGM campaigns we are not talking about adult women, we are talking about children, sometimes babies. This is child abuse and must be fought just as child labor, child pornography etc. Would it be racist if a European woman campaigns against child pornography in Thailand? Or wouldn't it be much more racist if she says: Oh, that's their culture.
3/1/2014 08:41:57 am
Hi Hannah and thanks very much for your response. This gives me an opportunity to make clear to you and others why I say anti-FGM campaigns are racist and sexist. The WHO definition of FGM "comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons". As it is now this definition only applies to African or non-western women and girls. Western women and girls - mainly white - undergo "procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia" and these are even covered by the national health systems in Europe, Australia and Canada to name a few.
3/1/2014 08:44:04 am
As for the sexism in the term FGM, this too is obvious. Genital surgeries on males - adults and children - are perfectly legal and not officially referred to as "mutilations" even though there is a growing number of detractors and campaigners against these practices. Let me add that there is no medical evidence that supports the idea that male circumcision is less harmful, less painful, less traumatic etc. than female circumcision practices. Also, there are no distinctions made between traditional or customary male circumcision versus those procedures that are hospital based.
3/2/2014 07:53:13 am
There certainly needs to be differentiation in several dimensions, considering adult versus child, medical versus traditional, and the wide variation in types of circumcision and their very different effects. It seems eminently reasonable that an adult woman should be free to request genital surgery exactly as she can request cosmetic or other elective surgery on many other parts of her body, however in many Western countries this is almost impossible unless she is able to pay extortionate fees for very simple and limited operations. Lawmakers and the medical profession have been so terrorised by the Anti-FGM campaigns, based largely on gross generalisations, exaggerations, and some direct untruths, that female genitals have become regarded as sacrosanct compared with other body parts.
3/1/2014 10:59:17 pm
It should certainly be prohibited for underage girls to undergo cosmetic surgery - any cosmetic surgery. In Germany this is the case - such surgeries can only be done if several expert opinions come to the conclusion that without the surgery psychological damage can be done: This could be argued in rare cases for a facial operation but certainly not genitalia. But if this is not the case in other Western countries this should be a focus of campaigns in these countries.
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