New York Times avoids using term ‘female genital mutilation,’ which it has deemed ‘culturally loaded’

[Ed. – A followup to this story.]

A top New York Times editor decided the paper shouldn’t use the term “female genital mutilation” because the phrase is too “culturally loaded” and widens a divide between the Western world and “people who follow the rite.”

Health and Science editor Celia Dugger said she came to the conclusion to refer to the act of removing the female genitalia of young girls as “genital cutting” during a trip to Africa in the 1990s. She spoke about her decision in a Times mailbag article in response to a reader’s question.

“I never minced words in describing exactly what form of cutting was involved, and there are many gradations of severity, and the terrible damage it did, and stayed away from the euphemistic circumcision, but chose to use the less culturally loaded term, genital cutting,” Dugger wrote. “There’s a gulf between the Western (and some African) advocates who campaign against the practice and the people who follow the rite, and I felt the language used widened that chasm.”

The term “female genital mutilation” has actually been used by the Times in six articles in 2017, according to a website search; however, the instances are extremely restricted.

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