FGM and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Firstly, let’s say a few words about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the celebrity apostate who is in town for the Sydney Writers’ Festival, to spruik her book amid what I’m sure she and her publicists hope will be a suitably outraged reaction from the local Muslim community. There. That’s about all that needs to be said (nothing).

Sadly, after viewing a few of her interviews, we must conclude that her commentary is on an entirely different intellectual plane to more worthy and thoughtful opponents such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Pipes or, say, the octogenarian caller to talkback radio complaining about the smell of “Moslem cooking”. In other words, nothing to see here. Let’s move on.

And so we come to The Age who, in covering Hirsi Ali’s story, report:

AS A small girl, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was forcibly circumcised with a pair of scissors. She was then sewn up with a piece of twine “to keep her chaste”.

In the world in which she then lived, Ali was not alone: according to a 2000 World Health Organisation fact sheet, the number of Muslim girls and women who underwent genital mutilation was estimated to be between 100 million and 140 million.

The practice is widespread in the predominantly Islamic countries of Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia — her homeland — but does not occur universally throughout the Islamic world.

100 million to 140 million Muslim girls and women? That’s quite a number. Let’s see: there are, approximately, 1.4 billion Muslims in the world. If half of them are women, then we have 700,000,000 Muslim women. If we then take The Age’s figure of 140 million genitally mutilated Muslim women, it means that 20% of Muslim women in this world have undergone the awful procedure.

If that is true, it’s no wonder some people think there is a causal connection to Islam. However, the fact is it isn’t true and, contrary to the Age report, the World Health Organisation’s fact sheet doesn’t say this at all.

Most of the girls and women who have undergone genital mutilation live in 28 African countries, although some live in Asia and the Middle East. They are also increasingly found in Europe, Australia, Canada and the USA, primarily among immigrants from these countries.

Today, the number of girls and women who have been undergone female genital mutilation is estimated at between 100 and 140 million. It is estimated that each year, a further 2 million girls are at risk of undergoing FGM.

Hirsi Ali is here to flog her book, but what’s The Age’s excuse?