The Guardian newspaper has publicly confirmed its policy of banning discussions about genital mutilation in the comment section under articles about genital mutilation.
To be more precise it is trying to ban commentators from sharing views about male genital mutilation that contradict its left-wing, pro-feminist, editorial views on female genital mutilation (FGM).
Many of the people impacted by the ban are committed campaigners against all forms of genital mutilation and men who were victims of genital mutilation themselves.
Campaigners told insideMAN last night that the practice of “moderating” male victims of genital mutilation (and their supporters) who call for all forms on non-consensual, medically unnecessary genital cutting to be banned has been going on for several years at The Guardian.
This week, apparently for the first time, the media group decided to openly “pre-moderate” comments on an article about FGM warning readers that “to keep circumcision of boys out of this particular conversation… comments specifically about male circumcision will be removed by mods as 'Off Topic'.”
Debating the ban is banned!
The reason The Guardian gave for banning discussion of male circumcision was that “the effects and cultural practices/significance are very, very different, and essentially they're two separate debates”.
One campaigner accused the newspaper of issuing a “fiat” that censored fair and reasoned debate and banned commentators from even discussing whether the two practices are linked or not.
To prove the point, another campaigner from New Zealand posted a comment explaining the historical links between FGM and male circumcision in the US and the UK and his comment was removed.
Boys have human rights too!
The same campaigner, who claimed on a separate forum that The Guardian allows posts supporting male circumcision, told insideMAN:
“It is legitimate for a site like the Guardian to not want every thread on FGC (female genital cutting) to be dominated by MGC (male genital cutting). What is less legitimate is to suppress every mention of MGC, and what is completely disgustingly illegitimate is to allow praise of MGC but not refutation of that praise, which seems to be what they are doing.”
“You could argue that to discuss FGC in isolation from other GC allows you to conflate harm with human rights violation…all GC is a human rights violation regardless of the degree of physical damage.”
Marilyn Milos, a US campaigner who began advocating for genital autonomy after observing the circumcision of baby boys as a nurse, agreed that the focus should be on human rights for everyone. She said:
“I've said many times before, genital cutting is not an issue of competitive suffering. The screams of infants and children undergoing genital cutting are genderless and both genders die from these harmful traditional practices. Both are human rights violations and should be dealt with as such.”
Men Do Complain
One man who has been making the case to the UK government that both practices violate human rights, Richard Duncker of Men Do Complain, explained his thinking to us. He said:
“It is difficult to see how a child’s human rights are not breached by non-therapeutic genital modification. The European Court of Human Rights has set a very low threshold for a breach of article 3 – that no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment - for example the application to the court No. 9078/06 Tarhan v Turkey (17/07/2012) found that the applicant’s Article 3 right had been breached by the forced shaving of his head and beard.”
“Children are equally entitled to the protection of their human rights. There is a misuse of Article 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998 when adults state that it is their right to manifest their beliefs by modifying their children’s genitals. Article 9 is a qualified right in that a person cannot infringe the rights of another, even if that other is his or her child.”
Sadly, such considered comments from committed campaigners like Richard Duncker are not welcome at The Guardian.
What debate is allowed?
To its credit, The Guardian probably generates more debate about male circumcision AND female circumcision than any other mainstream media operation. The coverage is heavily weighted towards FGM, which has been the subject of five articles this month alone, compared with male circumcision, which has generated 5 articles all year.
Furthermore, while The Guardian’s coverage of FGM is unequivocally opposed to the practice and strongly rooted in discussion about the UK’s role in ending the practice at home and abroad; The Guardian’s articles about male circumcision offer a mix of pro-circumcision; anti-circumcision and neutral viewpoints and are often presented as “world news” and not connected to the need for the UK to end the practice at home and abroad.
The Guardian claims that while “the two issues are superficially related, the … cultural practices/significance are very, very different, and essentially they're two separate debates”.
What appears to be happening is that The Guardian has mistaken its editorial, gender political, worldview of genital with the absolute truth and is now insisting that any victims of genital mutilation (and their supporters) who think differently are quite simply wrong.
We can only solve this problem together
I’ll give the final word to Georganne Chapin of Intact America, who told insideMAN:
"I think it’s rather curious. The Guardian is preaching to the choir if it does a piece deploring the evils of FGM. I do not minimize the problem of FGM in the cultures where it is still practiced, and we cannot deny that western countries with large Muslim populations will have to address the practice from a legal standpoint.
"However, as journalism, the topic isn’t even all that interesting on its own; the party’s over. The Guardian’s readership is universally going to condemn FGM. What IS interesting is that The Guardian and the mainstream western press, in general, are not willing to even entertain the possibility that in order to solve the FGM problem, we might need to address MGM."
Article by Glen Poole author of the book Equality For Men
Also on insideMAN:
- Why it's rational to say male circumcision is worse than FGM
- All previous articles about circumcision at insideMAN