As our church becomes more and more of a global entity – we are bound to come across cultural and ethical dynamics that run drastically counter to our beliefs and values as Latter-day Saints. Gender inequality is a problem that occurs in many different situations – including our own church. However, today I’d like to draw attention to the practice of female circumcision occurring mainly in African and Middle Eastern countries. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 125 million women and girls are affected by female genital mutilation. (The Courage to Say No; Spirituality & Health; July/August 2014). These practices usually originate from religious beliefs dealing with the importance of “sexual purity” and can lead to dramatic consequences including but not limited to infertility, difficult urination, painful sex, and life-threatening bleeding. Females are usually mutilated anywhere from infancy to the age of 15 – and the practice is often seen as a rite into womanhood, following with many of them forced into becoming child brides.
I would like to call upon our leadership and members to draw attention and focus on this issue – supporting monies, research, service projects, education, missionary efforts, etc. to stopping this barbaric, harmful and antiquated practice. I become especially frustrated when at American church services I see us getting caught up in the typical rhetoric surrounding the “evils of the worlds” – focusing on such things as immodest dress, sexual agency and the ever divisive issue of gay marriage. Let’s please keep things in perspective and become mobilized around truly important things for us to be concerned about – where we can easily unite and make a significant difference. We are now a powerful enough global influence where we could more deliberately become important players in the changes the world truly needs. Let’s put the shoulder to the wheel on advocacy that matters.