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    In recent years, the dominant Western discourse on "female genital mutilation" (FGM) has increasingly been challenged by scholars. Numerous researchers contest both the terminology used and the empirical claims made in what has come to be called "the standard tale" of FGM (also termed "female genital cutting" [FGC]). The World Health Organization (WHO), a major player in setting the global agenda on this issue, maintains that all medically unnecessary cutting of the external female genitalia, no matter how slight, should be banned as torture and a violation of the human right to bodily integrity. However, the WHO targets only non-Western forms of female-only genital cutting, raising concerns about gender bias and cultural imperialism. Here, we summarize ongoing critiques of the WHO's terminology, ethicolegal assumptions, and empirical claims, including the claim that non-Western FGC as such constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. To this end, we highlight recent comparative studies of medically unnecessary genital cutting of all types, including those affecting adult women and teenagers in Western societies, individuals with differences of sex development (DSD), transgender persons, and males. In so doing, we attempt to clarify the grounds for a growing critical consensus that current anti-FGM laws and policies may be ethically incoherent, empirically unsupportable, and legally unsustainable.


    Brian D Earp, Sara Johnsdotter. Current critiques of the WHO policy on female genital mutilation. International journal of impotence research. 2021 Mar;33(2):196-209

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    PMID: 32457498

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