Will Canada keep FGM as a criminal offence and regard it as a barbaric cultural practice? Or will it ‘progress’?
In Canada, female genital mutilation, or FGM, has been a criminal offence since 1997. The person carrying out the mutilation can be charged with an aggravated assault, and if the parents (or anyone else) facilitated the mutilation they can be charged with being a party to the offence.
In May 1997, the federal government amended the Criminal Code and included the performance of FGM as aggravated assault under section 268(3). Under the Criminal Code, any person who commits an aggravated assault is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years. A parent who performs FGM on their child may be charged with aggravated assault. Where the parent does not commit the act but agrees to have it performed by another party, the parent can be convicted as a party to the offence under section 21(1) of the Criminal Code. [OHRC]¹
In Canada, as with all of Western society, some are starting to rethink how we should look at this predominantly Islamic/African practice. As with all things ‘progressive‘ however, it seems part of society moving our thinking forward often includes a huge step backwards.
In 2016, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) ran an article highlighting the opinion of two U.S. gynaecologists. These two medical professionals, Kavita Shah Arora and Allan Jacobs, endorsed allowing Islamic and African communities in North America to allow minor mutilation (they call this ‘minor modification‘) of female genitals. In essence they were saying that by giving these communities a legal inch (minor ‘modification‘) in North America, it would allow them to avoid taking an illegal mile (massive mutilation), here or abroad.
[Laws against ‘mild modifications’ are] culturally insensitive and supremacist and discriminatory towards women. [Kavita Shah Arora; Allan Jacobs]²
From this, Arora and Jacobs are explicitly stating that Western laws concerning FGM are culturally inferior, supremacist and sexist. From this also we might perceive Arora and Jacobs as two far-left cranks. Even the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada insists FGM is a, “harmful practice and a violation of girls’ and women’s rights to life, physical integrity, and health.”
But progress never truly sleeps does it? This year, the National Post ran an article³ that highlights a Muslim-Canadian website that ran its own article on the benefits of FGM, penned by Asiff Hussein. In his article, Hussein (who presumably has no clitoris, mutilated or not) states that FGM is proscribed in the Haddith (it is) through the sacred words of his prophet Mohammed. He also says much more, unfortunately, about Islamophobia and the Jews.
…Misogynists and feminists are feeding upon each other to denigrate an Islamic practice that brings untold benefits to women. [The truth about FGM has been obscured by] Islamaphobic sentiments expressed by a largely Jewish-controlled media. [Jews also want to hide the fact that limited female circumcision is another] feather in the cap [of Islam] [Asiff Hussein]
Which brings us to Canadian citizenship. Recently a draft of a guide* that helps prospective Canadian citizens learn about and be tested about their new home was obtained by the press. This draft had removed language concerning FGM being one of the ‘barbaric cultural practices’ (which includes honour killing) unacceptable and illegal in Canada; this was explicitly included in the most recent guide. Naturally, this had many asking why?
And that’s just what Michelle Rempel on the Senate Standing Committee on Citzenship and Immigration asked Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen this month. However, Hussen would only say that the draft was under review with stakeholders and the final one isn’t complete. Fair enough, but he also avoided the main question: will you commit to continuing to include FGM as a barbaric cultural practice in the citizenship guide? Hussen, unfortunately, did not commit.
One interesting part of the video was where Rempel asked Hussen what kind of stakeholders could possibly not want to include FGM as an unacceptable, barbaric cultural practice? He didn’t say. But I bet Arora, Jacobs and Hussein might have a few thoughts. Who knows; perhaps they are helping Hussen with his final draft?
¹ Ontario Human Rights Commission; ‘4. FGM in Canada’
² CBC; ‘Female genital mutilation should be legal in its mildest forms: gynecologists’
³ National Post, Tom Blackwell; ‘Calgary Muslim website defends female circumcision and critiques ‘Jewish media”
* National Post; ‘Liberals overhaul citizenship test: Barbaric cultural practices out, respecting Indigenous treaties in’