We don't know why we do it, but we will never stop

On January 9, 2009, in culture, by Karen Grepin

I recently had the chance to view the photos posted in the Washington Post which chronicled the circumcision of a young Iraqi girl outside of Baghdad. I personally found the photos a bit shocking, so I will leave it to you if you wish to view them or not.

I don’t admit to know very much about this practice, nor anything about life in Kurdistan, but I found the accompanying article very interesting. When asked why the mother had choosen to perform the operation on her daughter, she exclaimed:

“We don’t know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it.”

Thousands of miles away, I view these photos and feel the desire to reach out and try to protect these girls, not just based on my own cultural norms I think, but by my basic instincts that finds this practice to be inhumane. I therefore can’t understand how the women, the mothers of these children, can hold down their screaming daughters during these procedures but not be able to better articulate the cultural and social norms that drove her to this decision. Clearly, the desire to have this done on one’s child must be very strong. Can public health, or should public health, try to address issues of this nature?

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