Choice of words

You probably have noticed that we use the term “female genital mutilation” instead of “girl circumcision” and others.

When talking to survivors or endangered persons, we recommend to copy the choice of words of the person you are talking to. Sometimes, female genital mutilation is called “brutal”, “barbaric” and “cruel”. These attributes contribute to devaluating practising cultures and deny their members parts of their humaneness, while creating the illusion in the readers that they are in a position to not only judge the practice, but also its motivation. This view produces racist stereotypes and is Eurocentric.

Furthermore, female genital mutilation is an expression of a misogynistic system, in which women and girls are harmed, discriminated against and endangered in multifarious ways. To describe only the bodily harm as problematic while ignoring, for instance, the underlying misogynist myths and mechanisms is too shortsighted and can even prevent efforts to abolish FGM.