The New York Times reported today on the growing movement against female genital mutilation in Egypt. This practice, also known as genital cutting, excision, or female circumcision, is performed within a number of African cultures, mostly lying in the triangle between Egypt, Kenya, and Senegal. Its roots lie in antiquity, provoking the conflict between opponents of excision, who argue that it is a dangerous infraction on basic human rights, and supporters, who point to its cultural history and significance.
In her recent book, Between Rites and Rights, Chantal Zabus gives us unprecedented access to women’s writing about the experience of excision. Presenting texts from throughout Africa, Zabus shows how women have found spaces outside of their traditional cultures within which they can voice their experiences. Their writing is eye-opening, often chilling, and always moving.