Women’s unity on FGM – despite opposition – is to be applauded

Women’s unity on FGM – despite opposition – is to be applauded

When women from across the community this week attacked the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), it was both heroic and historic.

There are few other examples of Jewish women – in positions of leadership or otherwise – speaking out so passionately and with such clarity about an issue that doesn’t directly affect the Jewish community.

It speaks volumes about their sense of priority and sense of justice on a global scale. This newspaper feels privileged to report on it.

It was a moment in which the community stopped stepping back in fear of potential retaliation from those who might wish to unjustly attack circumcision – and stood forward as one to lend our help to those who need it, in this case young girls at risk of one of the most horrendous acts one can imagine being inflicted.

There are those who,  to serve their own hidden agendas, would maliciously seek to link FGM with brit milah.

For Jews, Genesis 17:10-14 elevated male circumcision into a religious rite, with individual religious significance, the Mishnah explaining how and when to perform the operation.

For thousands of years then, this religious ritual has held huge importance in defining who was a Jew.

FGM, on the other hand, involves the illegal removal of the young girl’s clitoris and cutting the labia, to the total removal of all external genitalia and the stitching together of the two sides of the vulva.

We make no excuse for being so graphic in our coverage –  this is the reality of the practice Jewish women spoke out against this week.

It is butchery, plain and simple. It is savage, and would have no place in any country at any time. That it still goes on here, in London, in 2014, explains why leading Jewish doctors, policewomen, charity executives, volunteers, religious heads and community leaders roundly condemned it this week.

They needn’t have. Senior male community figures are understood to have advised against them commenting. If true, this is both shocking and absolutely wrong, because just as their condemnation spoke volumes, their silence on the subject would have been deafening.

Well done, women of the community. You’ve done us all proud!

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