Female Genital Mutilation In Judaism

Female Genital Mutilation In Judaism April 1, 2024

Female Genital Mutilation in Judaism Created By Rebecca Keene with Image Creator
Female Genital Mutilation in Judaism

In Judaism, we like to think of female genital mutilation as an “other’s” problem, but unfortunately, it is not. There is a sect of Ethiopian Jews known as Falashas or Beta Israel who regularly practice genital mutilation in females. This practice is not based on Torah teachings, provides no health benefits, and must be brought to an end.

Beta Israel and Female Genital Mutilation

Beta Israel lived in isolation from the larger Jewish community in Ethiopia. Their religion is based solely on the Torah, the first five books of The Bible. They have never had access to other Jewish writings and certainly not to Oral Torah. D.D. Buff believed this is the reason for their misinterpretation of circumcision.

The Community considers themselves to be descendants of The Tribe of Dan. Many of them have now moved to Israel and converted to Orthodox Judaism. Upon conversion, they do give up the practice of female genital mutilation. Yet, a small number continue to live in Ethiopia and continue this practice.

A study conducted by Grisaru et al found that one-third of the Ethiopian Jewish women interviewed had some form of genital mutilation while 27% had undergone partial or total clitoridectomy.

The Case For Circumcision

While most Jewish denominations do not practice female genital mutilation, circumcision for males is required. However, as I stated in a previous article, male circumcision is better for health. Men who are circumcised are less likely to get HIV and infections of the foreskin. Therefore, circumcision for males is a vital part of hygiene and health. This is not, however, true for women. We know that The Torah laws were concerned with prolonging life and healthy living, as I mentioned here.  Therefore, male circumcision makes sense as a Torah law.

Female Genital Mutilation Breaches The Laws of Judaism

However, female genital mutilation has no health benefits and keeps a woman from enjoying sexual pleasure for her entire life. Judaism celebrates female sexuality and the pleasure derived from it in marriage. For this reason, Jewish women have always been granted the right of divorce if the man was not sexually satisfying her. Further, there are laws about how often a married man must “service” his wife, regardless of whether she can have children. Therefore, anything that denies a woman sexual pleasure within her marriage is against Torah law.

Further female genital mutilation, since it is not ordered by The Torah, would be considered by Jewish law as body modification. Thus, it is unacceptable. It falls under the same category as piercings and tattoos.

Duty of Care

While it may still seem like an “other’s” issue, as Beta Israel is an isolated tribe of few, we have a duty to care for Jews worldwide. Therefore, we must speak up for these women. We must shout that our religion does not endorse senseless body modification or harm of our women. We must educate this tribe in the correct reading of The Law.



About Rebecca Keene
The author, Rebecca Keene, has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Religion. She graduated from the University of Pikeville as Religion Honor Student in 2014. Currently, she is studying for a MA in Women, Gender, Spirituality, and Social Justice at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Also, Rebecca is the author of FAITH UNDER THE RAINBOW: RECLAIMING THE TRUTH ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE BIBLE.  In addition, she founded and independently runs the social media community, Reclaiming the Truth.  Therefore, you should visit Rebecca's author page and purchase her books at: Amazon Author Page or: Publication Page Rebecca is currently in her 3rd year of Kabbalah study. She is ordained to perform LGBT weddings and is certified in Hypnotherapy. Rebecca lives in Kentucky with her two adult children. She practices Non-Denominational Judaism. She is passionate about social justice and fiercely advocates for the marginalized in society and religion.  When not with her children or writing, Rebecca enjoys spending time in nature, with G-d, or in a good book.  She also enjoys making and selling art which you can find at Art by Rebecca. Author, Rebecca Keene,  is always happy to hear from readers. You may contact her through the Reclaiming the Truth page on Facebook, or you can email keenerebecca@yahoo.com Rebecca will try to answer all correspondence, but please be patient, as life is busy for us all. You can read more about the author here.

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