Some 500 to 2,000 British schoolgirls will be genitally mutilated over the summer holidays. Some will be taken abroad, others will be “cut” or circumcised and sewn closed here in the UK by women already living here or who are flown in and brought to “cutting parties” for a few girls at a time in a cost-saving exercise.
Then the girls will return to their schools and try to get on with their lives, scarred mentally and physically by female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that serves as a social and cultural bonding exercise and, among those who are stitched up, to ensure that chastity can be proved to a future husband.
One of my naive fantasies is that New Zealanders are a pretty decent lot, and that while its trans-Tasman cousin may be the international home of racism, New Zealand is bit more mature than all that. Oh, sure, we’ve got fringe nuts like the National Front, but they’re exceptions that prove the rule. And we do have a certain undercurrent of racial prejudice about the natives – but it’s that nice, normal, acceptable level, like the background radiation of cellphone towers. Can’t do much about it, not ideal, but we all seem to have agreed somewhere along the line not to talk about it.Continue reading