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Monday, 30 September 2013

Genital Mutilation

If only out of the self-interest of their functionaries, all States have a special interest in children. Without new generations to labour and pay taxes, a State will wither and die. If the new generations are healthy, educated and willing, then States can achieve great things.

Non-democratic states are often better at recognising this than democratic ones. Democracies tend to discount children because they don't vote. Too busy placating needy adult voters, democracies underinvest in education and underprotect children.

That would be all right if parents could always be relied upon to care about their children. They can't.

Children are utterly vulnerable to the adults into whose hands they happen to fall. Those adults can make or break them. Many - probably most - children are lucky and find themselves in the hands of adults who care for them - and profoundly. It helps that these bundles of soft flesh have the power to enchant those around them.

But not always. Faced with that soft flesh, there are parents whose first thought is to mutilate it. Instead of thinking that it is their duty to protect their child from bodily harm at an age when the child cannot always protect itself, they want to inflict bodily harm - painful and bloody. And not for any medical reason.

Parents who have to agree to surgical intervention to protect the health of their child always face a cruel dilemma. On the one hand, they do not want to see their child's body cut and their child in pain. At the same time, they know that on this occasion it is necessary, it is for the best. The Doctor says so.

Genital mutilation of both male and female children is not medically necessary. No doctor mindful of his or her duty  should ever wield the knife.

You bring a child into the world and one of your first preoccupations is to mutilate its body. How can the relationship between child and parent ever recover from that? Genital mutilation is a terrible abuse of trust.

We struggle to see the world from the child's point of view. Democracies are very poor at doing so. They are listening only to adults - and adults are often enough listening to the Voices they hear in their heads which urge them on to perform terrible acts.

The State has a duty of protection towards children and it should say No Way, Never, Boy or Girl.

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