At the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, Hillary Clinton spoke out strongly and eloquently on the subject of genital mutilation, and for the first time enunciated the Administration's legal position:
"...It is degrading. And it is a violation of the physical integrity of a woman's body, leaving a lifetime of physical and emotional scars." - Hillary Clinton, in China, Sept 1995.
This is a very exciting development for those of us working against HGM (Human genital Mutilation) for several reasons. First, Mrs. Clinton's strong voice may carry some weight toward the institution of forms of protection for girls from HGM, which we all pray for. And her words offer encouragement to those laboring here and abroad to protect the children. Let us hope her words ring throughout the world wherever HGM is practiced. Perhaps her words will speed the passage of HR 3864 protecting American girls from genital mutilation.
Secondly, but perhaps ultimately more important, we have official recognition that HGM is a Human Rights abuse, and we have enunciation of the legal principle it violates -- the right to physical integrity of the human body. Many of us are excited, because her comments, while speaking about women, obviously apply equally to boys and men. We look forward to working with the Administration toward the abolition of genital mutilation (non-therapeutic circumcision) of boys in America.
For the first time ever an American official has recognized human body integrity as a human right. U.N. Conventions refer to it as the right "to security of person". It is next in precedence to the right to life. It is unalienable, begins at birth, and is irrespective of gender. At last we have recognition in America.
This view denies the notion that African parents, who really do believe they are doing what is best for their children, have a right to have healthy parts of their children removed - for the sake of appearance. It affirms every child's right to all parts of his/her natural body. This principle clearly covers American parents having healthy parts of their sons' genitals removed unnecessarily - "so they look like their father".
Mrs. Clinton is to be congratulated for her understanding and for speaking out. We are deeply grateful for her support.
Wayne Hampton firstname.lastname@example.org
Internet Coordinator, NOHARMM
National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males