It's long been the case on Bubhub that the word mutilate, or its cognates, should not be used for infant male circumcision on the entirely reasonable grounds that parents who have routinely circumcised their sons find this upsetting. There has always been a small problem with this, however: namely, we have been exhorted for several decades to describe female circumcision as genital mutilation, regardless of its severity. This double standard does not sit well with everyone.
We can relax now, for the Indonesian Department of Health has clarified the matter by issuing guidelines for "safe female circumcision", with a spokesperson Murti Utami making clear in recent press converage: “I would like to stress that female circumcision is not genital mutilation, which is indeed dangerous. They are two things that are very different.”
Murti added that "the guidelines provided directions on performing the procedure properly and safely and required that circumcision must only be carried out with parental consent. Furthermore, parents must be given information beforehand on pros and cons of the procedure. Circumcision is typically done at birth, or before a girl reaches the age of 5."
All sounds comfortingly familiar, doesn't it? And we now have a fully gender-neutral approach to circumcision which distinguishes it from genital mutilation, for both boys and girls.
Of course, Australians generally view all genital cutting of female children as mutilation, regardless of the upset this might cause those Muslim parents who favour circumcision for their daughters. So the Indonesian resolution of the double standard may have trouble finding widespread acceptance here.
There is an alternative approach, but that would involve embracing the "m" word for the genital cutting of male children, and hence breaching Bubhub guidelines.
I wonder what the 52 infant boys who will, on average, be circumcised today (and every other day) will make of this semantic problem when they are old enough to realise that unlike 85-97% (depending on where they live) of their peers, they have had their foreskins removed "routinely"?