Torah For Today! This week: Female genital mutilation

Torah For Today! This week: Female genital mutilation

Rabbi Zvi Solomons looks at a controversial topical issue and looks into Jewish texts for a response

Earlier this month, a mother became the first person in the UK to be found guilty of female genital mutilation (FGM). So, what does the Torah say about this?

It tells us that when a baby boy is eight days old he must be circumcised, both as a reminder of the circumcision of Isaac, but also because we are commanded to.

Nothing, however, is mentioned about girls.

This created a strange situation in which a huge fuss was made over the initiation of baby boys into our religious group, but not so for girls.

This has changed in recent times, with daughters having a zeved habat ceremony to ensure they are properly named before they are a month old.

Circumcision physically marks the membership of our tribes and our relationship with God, by copying Abraham’s mark.

Some say that it is on our sexual member to help to limit sexual desire – although I am reliably informed this alleged lessening of sensation
is apocryphal.

Circumcising women is another matter altogether. Most female circumcision involves complete excision of the clitoris, the most sensitive pleasure centre of a woman’s body, meaning her pleasure in
sex is permanently and severely damaged.

Often this procedure is accompanied by infibulation, making the opening smaller and causing immense pain in intercourse and even when passing water.

Halacha would indicate this is a disgusting violation of a woman. While the effect of male circumcision is limited, interfering with
a woman in this way runs counter to her needs in life.

Women’s sexual desire is recognised in the Talmud, and it is she who dictates how often and when her husband cohabits. This is the most sacred part of marriage, and she should gain pleasure from it.

Female circumcision is utterly cruel, unnatural, and counter to the laws of God, as well as medically dangerous.  We should support victims and help to stamp out this cruel practice.

  •   Zvi Solomons serves the Jewish Community of Berkshire in Reading
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