Yes, you read this headline correctly. Female genital mutilation/cutting is practiced in Australia. According to the Medical Journal of Australia, due to an increasing number of immigrants that arrived and settled in Australia from African countries in which FGM is practiced, FGM has become prevalent in Australia and could increase. According to Australian immigration, between 1999 and 2009, 38,299 immigrants from Sudan, Somalia, Egypt and Ethiopia settled in Australia.
Australian law prohibits the practice of FGM. It is the policy of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that female genital mutilation of any type is prohibited. As far back as 1994, the Family Law Council admitted that it was likely that FGM was being practiced in Australia. Then in 2010, doctors and hospitals in Australia confirmed the suspicions that FGM was practiced there. According to the hospitals, they began to see a number of female patients who had undergone FGM. The Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital alone reported treating up to seven hundred post-FGM patients annually.
To quote the Australian Medical Journal, “It predates the Koran and the Bible, it has no basis in any religious text and is therefore not based in religious observance. Rather, FGM is focused on social control of girls’ and women’s bodies and capacity for sexual enjoyment and fulfilment.” FGM does indeed have nothing to do with religion, as there is no mention in either the Bible or the Qur’an.
Some of the justifications given for practicing FGM are: it is a rite of passage into womanhood; it ensures virginity (promoting family honor); it helps attract a husband because uncircumcised women are seen as immoral; and it prevents infidelity by controlling sexual desire and capacity.
Australia has put forth strong and clear prohibitions of FGM in both legal and medical policies, and possesses a generally enviable record of gender equality and health provision.
This article is a clear example that FGM is no longer an African, Middle Eastern or Southeast Asian problem. FGM has become a world’s problem, and it has been that way for several years now.