Twitter recently allowed a video ad in support of female genital mutilation, and users are outraged. And it’s no wonder. Female genital mutilation, known as FGM for short, is “recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women,” according to the World Health Organization. The practice is most often done on infants to 15-year-old girls, with about four different types of procedures that are known. All of the procedures are highly dangerous to the female, with many horrible physical and psychological side effects.
Furthermore, an estimated 3 million girls are subjected to FGM each year, with an estimated 200 million girls and women who have been given the procedure. Most of the countries that practice FGM are in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
So with all that in mind, people are wondering why the ad was ever allowed on the platform. Even worse, the video was reportedly watched over 30,000 times, according to Metro. It was sponsored by a Muslim group called the Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom. The video showed a woman named Arwa Sohangpurwala, who claimed that “My daughters have also undergone khafz, and they’re growing up as perfectly as other children of their age. As a mother, I can never do anything to harm them.”
One user, Mariya Taher, has been outspoken against Twitter for allowing the ad. In fact, Taher said that she was a victim of FDM at just 7-years-old, and has since become an activist campaigning to end the practice, detailed the Detroit Free Press. This is what she said about the controversy.
“It’s still a form of harm to children. And it’s being done without their consent. I do wonder how this cannot be a violation of Twitter’s safety and security rules. I believe Twitter can and should have higher standards and be a company that does not unintentionally promote gender-based violence.”
The fact that the children don’t give consent is one of the biggest problems that activists have against FGM. And the Twitter ad suggested that a mother that would “never” harm their children would engage in the activity, further upsetting people.
Meanwhile, this is what the Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom has said about FGM.
“We hope that the U.S. understands that khafz is not FGM. It does not mutilate, it does not harm. Our faith would never advocate anything that harms. Khafz is far less invasive than male circumcision that is legal in the U.S.”
That argument, however, would not be acceptable under WHO’s classification of FGM. The “khafz” that is described would still be considered type 1 FGM.