Pambazuka News

Debating FGM (3)

Ezekiel Mwenzwa

2004-09-23, Issue 175

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/letters/24756


The ongoing debate on what has been called female genital mutilation is not only entertaining but also worrisome, especially reading the comments by Lwanga and Mohammed, two women activists who purport to be talking for women, but from two almost extreme sides.

Let me give a general comment on what the two have said from an outsiders perspective. Firstly, the discussion is about to get out of hand and if these two ladies were talking on a one to one (face to face) basis, we may need to call the fire brigade, so bring the fire down. This is because the import of emotions expressed by the two particularly Mohammed, are not only unhealthy for women's empowerment, but also questionable. Forgive me for saying that the two are trying to defend their positions in the name of women. For Lwanga, it should be understood that her arguments are scholarly, from an academician, but nonetheless impractical as the analogies she uses are grossly wanting. But as a scholar she is entitled to that for scholarship is about argument that leads to more and more debate that may lead to generation of knowledge over time.

For Mohammed she is an NGO executive, indeed a lobby group that would like to problematise every thing about women to get the much needed funding to continue eating. For me, eradication of FGM is not a basic need for women for it adds no extra food on their table, but education is. Why cant these organisations focus on the education of girls and put more funds there without concentrating on issues that won't add food on women's tables.