Tags: new york times | genital mutilation | genital cutting | female | word choice

NYT: Don't Use 'Female Genital Mutilation,' Insults Those Who Practice

Image: NYT: Don't Use 'Female Genital Mutilation,' Insults Those Who Practice
Women protesting during the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation . (Photo by Marcos del Mazo/ Pacific Press/Sipa via AP Images)

Wednesday, 26 Apr 2017 12:26 PM

The New York Times' health and science editor defended the paper's use of the term "genital cutting" in a recent article, saying the term "female genital mutilation" is too "culturally loaded."

Celia Dugger responded to a reader question about the story of a Michigan doctor accused of performing the act on two 7-year-old girls last week.

"I began writing about this back in 1996 when I was an immigration reporter on the Metro desk covering the asylum case of Fauziya Kassindja," she said. "I decided in the course of reporting that case — especially after a reporting trip to Togo, her home country, and the Ivory Coast — to call it genital cutting rather than mutilation."

Dugger adds that she "never minced words in describing exactly what form of cutting was involved, and there are many gradations of severity, and the terrible damage it did, and stayed away from the euphemistic circumcision, but chose to use the less culturally loaded term, genital cutting. There's a gulf between the Western (and some African) advocates who campaign against the practice and the people who follow the rite, and I felt the language used widened that chasm."

The United Nations Population Fund defends the use of the word "mutilation," though it does acknowledge that "some fear the term 'female genital mutilation' could alienate practicing communities, or even cause a backlash, possibly increasing the number of girls subjected to the practice."

That being said, "UNFPA embraces a human rights perspective on the issue, and the term 'female genital mutilation' more accurately describes the practice from a human rights viewpoint."

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The New York Times' health and science editor defended the paper's use of the term "genital cutting" in a recent article, saying the term "female genital mutilation" is too "culturally loaded."
new york times, genital mutilation, genital cutting, female, word choice
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2017-26-26
Wednesday, 26 Apr 2017 12:26 PM
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