why do some cultures practice female circumcision

Those opposed to genital cutting prefer to use the term female genital mutilation. They argue that it is a barbaric and needless practice inflicted on innocent young women. It is certainly a painful process. It is sometimes carried out by a midwife with anaesthetics, but more often than not there is nothing to ease the pain. The operation involved varies widely from culture to culture. In its most extreme form (infibulation) it can involve the removal of all external genitalia and the stitching up of the labia leaving only a very small opening for sex, urination, menstruation and giving birth. This often makes a later operation necessary to create a larger opening.

Many objections to the practice of genital cutting are concerned with the particular circumstances in which it is done. Amnesty International, a human rights organisation, reports that the operation is often carried out using blunt tools (penknives, fragments of glass or tin cans). A particularly brutal operation can leave a woman with haemorrhaging, infections, abscesses and sometimes a lifelong loss of sensation during sex. The Pan-African Committee on Traditional Practices estimates that two million girls in Africa each year undergo some kind of genital cutting which endangers both their health and their lives.

Another objection concerns the inability of some young women to make a choice. Cutting takes place when a girl is young (aged between three and ten), vulnerable and unable to make an informed decision. In a small village community pressure to take part is enormous.
Does Judaism Endorse Female Genital Cutting? No, But. May 11, 2010 by In an effort to prevent female genital cutting, the American Academy of Pediatrics last week released a policy statement endorsing the use of a Бritual nickБ on a female babyБs genitals.

Doing so, the Academy writes, could Бsave some girls from undergoing disfiguring and life-threatening procedures in their native country. Б The cutting, which is also called Бfemale genital mutilationБ Б or by its euphemism Бfemale circumcisionБ Б often includes the excision of the clitoris and part of the labia. One of the in compared the БnickБ to an ear piercing; that is, blood would be drawn, but the skin would not be removed. Although this cutting is most prevalent as part of tribal rituals in Africa and among Muslims in the Middle East, the AcademyБs report states that it Бhas been documented in individuals from many religions, including Christians, Muslims, and Jews.

Б But is female genital cutting really practiced among Jews? For the most part, no, writes Harvard Professor Shaye J. D. Cohen in БWhy ArenБt Jewish Women Circumcised? : Gender and Covenant in JudaismБ (University of California Press, 2005): Aside from the Beta Israel of Ethiopia (the so-called Falashas) Б no Jewish community, in either ancient, medieval or modern times, is known to have practiced female circumcision. Б The practice of the Beta Israel is simply part of general Ethiopian culture, in which female circumcision is widely practiced, and is not a relic of some long-lost Jewish tradition.

In Hebrew UniversityБs Shalva Weil, the president of the Society for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry, writes that while female genital cutting Бwas normative among Beta Israel women,Б the Ethiopian Jewish community has largely abandoned the practice since moving en masse to Israel in the 1990s. So too has IsraelБs Bedouin community, where female genital cutting, once common, has been all but eradicated, according to out of Ben-Gurion University.