Time to end the culture of abuse where women are less than second-class citizens

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Rita Panahi, Herald Sun
January 16, 2017


NOT all cultures are equal. Some are backward, barbaric and in 2017 still treat women as less than second-class citizens.

Acknowledging this indisputable fact will offend the sensibilities of regressive Left snowflakes who tolerate misogyny as long as it’s perpetrated by those from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Honour killings, forced marriages, forced veiling, deprivation of liberty and genital mutilation are just some of the horrors inflicted on women and girls around the world in the name of religion or culture.

Australians can no longer turn a blind eye to such abuses, particularly when our own citizens are victims.

It’s not just happening in Mogadishu or Mosul. Girls are being brutalised right here in Melbourne.

Last Friday, in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, police alleged that a bride under the age of 16 was raped by her husband after being forced into marriage. The traditional Islamic ceremony allegedly took place last year, conducted by a respected local cleric, Ibrahim Omerdic.

On the same day, a study conducted by the Australian paediatric surveillance unit at Westmead children’s hospital revealed that children as young as five months old are being subjected to the heinous cruelty of female genital mutilation.

Even the least severe form of genital cutting can leave the victim in severe long-term pain.

The irreversible procedure has been inflicted on Australian girls, some here, and some overseas. The excruciating operation is typically performed without anaesthesia.

Many FGM victims are cut before they migrate here.

There are of course many complications for victims of FGM.

The demand for medical assistance has been so great that the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne has a dedicated clinic to assist women who have suffered the procedure.

The clinic opened in 2010 — the same year the hospital reported treating 600 to 700 women every year who have suffered FGM.

That’s just one hospital in one city in one year.

The Australian paediatric surveillance unit research found that of the 59 girls observed, some had had the most severe form of FGM, designed to rob females of sexual pleasure.

“About 20 per cent of them had had infibulation — that is (the) removal of the clitoris — and external genitalia removed and sewing up of the opening,” said study author Professor Elizabeth Elliott.

“Many of these girls were experiencing physical complications such as urinary tract infections, difficulty passing urine, difficulty with menstruation, but a lot of them were also suffering from psychological consequences of having had the procedure.

“We identified three Australian-born children, two of whom had had the procedure performed in NSW and one of whom who had been taken to Indonesia to have this procedure performed.”

Prof Elliott explained the extent of the problem in Australia was underestimated. The overwhelming majority of paediatricians surveyed admitted that they rarely asked about the procedure.

“We really have no idea of the prevalence, and we suspect this is a gross underestimate of the number of girls who have been affected by this procedure,” she said.

“There needs to be a revision of the policies so paediatricians are well aware of who is at risk, what they should be looking for, how they should be reporting these children to child protection authorities, and what are the legal imperatives involved.”

Disturbingly the majority of the girls who had suffered FGM had not been referred to child protection services, despite the procedure being outlawed and being a clear case of child abuse.

Most FGM victims suffer in silence, hesitant to report family or community members who have forced them into the procedure.

Prosecutions are rare. Australia’s first FGM trial occurred in 2015 when three members of the Dawoodi Bohra Shia Muslim community — a religious leader, a midwife and the victims’ mother — were convicted for the genital mutilation of two sisters.

Last year the midwife, Kubra Magennis, who performed the procedure on the girls, aged six and seven, and the mother were sentenced to 11 months’ home detention.

Community leader Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri received an 11-month jail term.

Issues such as FGM and child brides are barely mentioned by feminists who prefer to rail against trivial offences and imagined grievances.

Last week they ignored the FGM research and child marriage trial to concentrate on micro-analysing a spat between two TV presenters.

Tortured feelpieces examining Amber Sherlock and Julie Snook’s passive-aggressive tiff came in thick and fast, some even managing to blame men for the dispute. But little was said about girls being brutalised right here in Australia.

Systematic subjugation is deliberately ignored as disempowered girls and women in Islamic communities are left to fight their own battles.

The bigotry of low expectations sees feminists ignore or excuse abhorrent behaviour from some communities that they would never accept from the white old men of the patriarchy.

It’s time that all men and all cultures were held to the same standard. Freedom and equality shouldn’t be reserved for privileged women in the West.

Rita Panahi is a Herald Sun columnist