Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Russian Politicians, Feminists Demand Action Against Female Genital Mutilation in Ingushetia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 18 – A few Russian politicians and many Russian feminists are demanding that the Kremlin take action against the practice of female genital mutilation in Ingushetia, a welcome expression of outrage against a barbaric practice but one that threatens to transform the image of that North Caucasus republic from victim to victimizer.

            The current anger grows out of a case involving a Chechen resident who has brought suit in an Ingush court because her estranged husband had such an operation performed in a Magas hospital on their nine-year-old daughter. Hospital officials deny that such an operation was performed, but the practice is widespread in the region (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/349742/).

            On various webpages, the Kavkaz-Uzel news agency reports, Russian feminists are expressing particular anger over the fact that it took the action of an individual woman to raise this issue rather than it being something the state should be committed to eliminating. (In fact, in the Russian Federation, there is no specific legal ban on this practice.)

            If the Chechen woman’s complaint is true, the authorities in Moscow and Magas should be taking action.  But in thinking about the case, there are two things to keep in mind: The practice of genital mutilation is widespread in the North Caucasus: it is hardly Ingush specific. And the woman making these charges against an Ingush facility is a Chechen.

            While there is no reporting to suggest this as yet, it is likely that at least some in Ingushetia will view these charges not as an effort to punish those engaged in barbarism but rather as another attempt to blacken the reputation of Ingushetia, weaken the republic, and even set the stage for its absorption by Chechnya.

            Meanwhile, the pandemic continued to claim more victims in Ingushetia, with the death toll there rising to 36 and many of those hospitalized now on ventilators (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/349744/). And some cases are so severe that they have been evacuated to Moscow hospitals (doshdu.com/bolee-100-zhitelej-severnogo-kavkaza-lechatsja-ot-koronavirusa-v-chastnyh-moskovskih-klinikah/).

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