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Mutilation or maiming (from the Latin: mutilus) is cutting off or causing injury to a body part of a person so that the part of the body is permanently damaged, detached or disfigured.[1]
– Wikipedia[2]

A British court (2015) has defined mutilation as:

[12] The word “mutilation” is not further elaborated or defined in the statute, so I turn to the dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “mutilation” as meaning “the action of mutilating a person or animal; the severing or maiming of a limb or bodily organ”, “mutilate” being defined as meaning “To deprive (a person or animal) of the use of a limb or bodily organ, by dismemberment or otherwise; to cut off or destroy (a limb or organ); to wound severely, inflict violent or disfiguring injury on.”[3]

Circumcision debate

In many debates and discussions about circumcision, one can hear the argument that MGM cannot be named a mutilation. The above definition alone proves this pseudo-argument wrong. There are reasons for those who want to defend the right of parents to genitally mutilate their children (both male and female, because in different cultures the arguments pro circumcision are identical or at least very similar for both FGM and MGM).

  1. The term circumcision is a euphemism of what is actually done to the child. Avoiding correct terms like "foreskin amputation" or "mutilation" obscures the view on the facts.
  2. Many adults who want to ensure that children's genitals can still be mutilated are themselves victims of genital mutilation. Therefore, the behavior can be explained by avoiding terms that could trigger them to relive the suffering they experienced yourself. See Collective Cognitive Dissonance for more psychological details.
  3. Publications such as "Desert Flower" by Waris Dirie have brought female genital mutilation, which in the past was also belittled as "circumcision", into the public eye. The same weighting of male genital mutilation is still missing in public. Therefore, it is easier for circumcision advocates to continue to use the trivializing term "circumcision" to protect themselves and their interests behind it.


  1. REFbook (1911) Mutilation, in: Encyclopædia Britannica. Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Edition: 11. Vol. 19. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 99–100.
  2. REFweb Wikipedia article: Mutilation. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  3. REFdocument Bangham, Samantha: Judgment, Family Law. (14 January 2015). Retrieved 12 September 2020.