FGM: wedded forever to religion?


A powerful and provocative guest piece today from our old friend Leonard Sisyphus Mann, whose Consenting Humans blog is highly recommended and who has guested here several times before, as Lensman, perhaps most notably in this profound, forward-looking, contribution: “The future is green, and liberating for children”, which prompted over 30,000 words of comment.

Today’s piece bravely identifies female genital mutilation (FGM) as primarily an Islamic problem, and a growing one, in the modern world. While acknowledging the pre-Islamic roots of the phenomenon, LSM sees specifically religious factors as responsible for its perpetuation.

There is evidence to support this claim but Heretic TOC does not endorse any anti-Islamic polemics that might be inferred from LSM’s essay. My belief is that Islam is capable of evolving in response to the needs and values of modern life, just as Christianity has adapted enormously: far fewer believers now hold fast to simplistic, literal, interpretations of the Bible, for example, than prevailed before Darwin and modern scriptural exegesis.

Accordingly, it would be mistaken to insist that Islam, especially in the West, will remain wedded to the practice of FGM, and certainly not to its more harmful forms. We should be supporting Muslims who themselves seek to end such practices (there are plenty of them), rather than be taking an accusatorial stance: finger-pointing smacks of dangerously confrontational “Islamophobia” that will only sustain and deepen entrenched customs.

Nevertheless, I know that LSM has put a huge amount of research into this piece and on the basis of its reliable information alone it is well worth reading and pondering deeply. I will not be surprised if it prompts a lively response.



Despite modernisation, feminism, improving education and rising living-standards female genital mutilation (FGM) is flourishing where already established, re-emerging where once eradicated, and spreading to hitherto unaffected places – notably the West. By conservative estimate some 200,000,000 – one in twenty – women and girls alive today have undergone the procedure.

FGM involves one or more of 3 interventions that can be performed with varying degrees of severity:

  • clitoridectomy (amputation of the clitoris),
  • excision of the labia,
  • infibulation (sealing the vagina by grafting together opposing labia majora, leaving a small hole for urination and eventual menstruation).

Infibulation and excision usually also involve clitoridectomy. ‘Sunnah Circumcision’ is a rare procedure, analogous to male circumcision in that only the clitoral prepuce is removed. FGM is generally reserved for prepubescents, seven being the average age. Anaesthetics are seldom used, pain being an important part of the procedure.

Short-term consequences include severe pain, bleeding, shock, urinary retention, infections, injury to nearby genital tissue, and sometimes death. Contusions, dislocations and fractures can result from the girl’s struggles against those restraining her (typically aunts or her mother).

Long-term consequences include chronic pain, pelvic infections, fistula, cysts, abscesses and ulcers, infections of the reproductive system, infertility, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, frigidity and death. Infibulation can cause hematocolpos and chronic dysmenorrhea.

FGM increases complications during childbirth. Scar tissue resulting from excision and infibulation lacks the elasticity of healthy vulval and vaginal tissue, resulting in obstructed labour. One study found that a fifth of babies born to infibulated mothers died in child-birth, two-thirds experienced oxygen deprivation.


In his 1996 paper entitled “Ending Footbinding And Infibulation” American political scientist Gerry Mackie offers a coherent account of the origins and persistence of FGM, and proposes a means of eradicating it. According to Mackie both FGM and the Chinese practice of footbinding arose from the extreme polygyny that becomes possible where extreme wealth inequality prevails. Because the number of concubines (wives and sex slaves) one can keep is proportionate to one’s wealth, extreme polygyny became a status symbol. Under these conditions, women can better attain the security and resources necessary for child-rearing as an elite man’s nth wife than as a pauper’s only wife. These conditions make hypergyny (females aspiring to marry into higher-ranking families) normative.

Mothers know that their children are indeed theirs; no man can be certain that a child he’s raising is his own. Polygynous men’s fidelity assurance problems are proportional to how many concubines they must keep faithful. Fidelity assurance measures include footbinding (which renders concubines housebound); domestic seclusion; gender segregation; veiling; arranged marriage (eliminating the risks to chastity attendant on socialising, choosing a partner and courtship); child marriage (before a girl can spoil her reputation); ‘honour’ codes (making ‘unchastity’ a life-and-death affair), and FGM.

Infibulation and excision promote fidelity by making penetration painful and dangerous. With infibulation, the resulting laceration and haemorrhaging also make penetration hard to conceal. FGM also promotes fidelity by instilling trauma-induced sex-negativity (hence the non-use of anaesthetics, even when available). FGM also acts similarly to slave-branding: teaching the child that submission and suffering (especially in sexual matters) are a woman’s lot, and rendering her servile to the perpetrators (god, religion, community, family, husband). FGM is practised on girls when they are at their most receptive to such lessons: mid-childhood.

Polygynous males require fidelity not only in their concubines, but prospective concubines must also guarantee their fidelity and chastity to become their brides. Adopting  these practices is a way for non-elite families to make their daughters eligible for an elite marriage, and therefore improve their situation (and the lower-ranking the family, the more they have to gain by successful hypergyny). FGM tends to increase in severity over time, because polygyny creates competitive marriage-markets which push families to advertise their commitment to chastity and fidelity by engaging in more extreme interventions (vide sexual selection). FGM becomes normative, only the poorest families suffering the stigma of having uncut daughters.


Mackie postulates two ‘traps’ which explain the persistence of FGM beyond the above originating conditions.

Firstly: as FGM becomes normative it generates self-justifying narratives: female sexuality must be excessive to require such extreme restraints; uncut girls are unchaste, impure, unfaithful; FGM promotes hygiene, fertility and beauty; the clitoris, if it touches the baby during childbirth, or the husband during intercourse, will kill them; left uncut the clitoris will grow to the length of a goose neck. Such beliefs makes ‘uncut’ girls unmarriageable.

Because FGM tends to be universal in practising communities these beliefs remain untested: practitioners generally assume all women worldwide undergo FGM – and encountering uncut women (in person, or magazines, TV, films) does not test this belief since their genitals are hidden (and are rarely discussed).

Secondly: even parents free of such beliefs, who disapprove of FGM, conform because abstaining would result in their daughter remaining unmarried and stigmatised. They are caught in a trap similar to that of paedophiles, whose condition would be improved by mass ‘coming out’, but for whom ‘going it alone’ would be disastrous. In typical FGM-practising communities marriage is a girl’s only route to security or status. Spinsters remain dependent on their family, or are condemned to begging or prostitution. In such circumstances not cutting one’s daughter is as much an act of bad parenting as depriving a child of education is for Westerners.

The Chinese abandonment of footbinding shows how these ‘traps’ can be escaped: families formed local associations whose members publicly pledged to not bind their daughters’ feet and (crucially) to only marry their sons to girls with natural feet. Soon, enough families had taken this pledge so that parents no longer feared that their daughters would remain unmarried if their feet weren’t bound. This tipping point reached, abandonment became contagious. For example Tinghsien province went from a 94% binding-rate in 1899 to zero in 1919.


Geography (as in ‘FGM is an African practice’), under-development, religion, and sexually-regressive attitudes and institutions have all been proposed as causes or aggravators of FGM. We can make a coarse-grained evaluation of these factors by comparing their distribution with that of FGM (follow hyperlinks for multivariate comparisons).

The following map reveals that FGM is not an ‘African practice’: most of Africa has very low FGM rates. Moreover, between a third and a half of FGM occurs outside Africa.

Prevalence of Female Genital Cutting

Prevalence of Female Genital Cutting

Development variables (such as poverty, education, health care, life expectancy) also correlate weakly with FGM.

FGM + Population Living Below Poverty Line

FGM + Population Living Below Poverty Line

Variables indicative of sexually-regressive institutions and attitudes (polygyny, dowries, child marriage, consanguineous marriage, forced marriage, sexual slavery, rape) correlate with, but also subsume, FGM.

FGM and Prevalence + Legal Status of Polygyny

FGM and Prevalence + Legal Status of Polygyny

The strongest correlate with FGM, and one which (I will argue) underlies the afore-listed regressive attitudes and practices, is that of Islam (compare Animism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism).

FGM + World Muslim Population

FGM + World Muslim Population

Mackie himself notes that FGM is found only in or adjacent to Islamic groups.


Islam is the only religion which mentions FGM in its sacred texts. Moslems consider the Koran to be infallible and divinely-revealed. Equal in authority to the Koran is Mohammed’s example and teachings as recorded in eyewitness accounts (Hadith). Collections of Hadith compiled by the Moslem scholars al-Bukhari and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj are judged entirely reliable and authentic (sahih), and are indeed of high evidentiary quality. Many core Islamic practices and tenets – male genital mutilation (MGM), the Hajj, how to pray, the Five Pillars of Islam – are derived from the sahih Hadith.

While the Koran mentions neither FGM nor MGM explicitly, verse 30:30 prescribes them implicitly by commanding Moslems to:

“Adhere to the fitrah”

The Koran doesn’t explain what ‘fitrah’ means; for that we turn to the Hadith (I note in bold the Arabic words used for ‘circumcision’):

[…] I heard [Mohammed] say: “The fitrah is five things […] circumcision [khitan], shaving the pubes, trimming the moustache, cutting the nails and plucking the armpit hairs.”” Bukhari 77:106

Mohammed touches on FGM in three more Hadith (‘sits amidst four parts’ is a euphemism for sexual intercourse):

[…Mohammed] said: When anyone sits amidst four parts (of the woman) and circumcised part [khitan] meets circumcised part [khitan] a ritual bath becomes obligatory.” Muslim 3:684

[…] A woman used to perform circumcision [khitan] in Medina. [Mohammed] said to her: Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.” Sunan Abu Dawud 41:5251

[…Mohammed] said: “Circumcision [khitan] is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.”” Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5:75

Note that the above Hadith prescribes both MGM and FGM.

(There exists a fifth Hadith – the Hadith of Abdalla ibnu Umar – in which Mohammed enjoins the Medinan women to practice FGM. I have yet to see the actual text of this Hadith.)

Some Hadith report the practices not of Mohammed, but of his followers: they are therefore not ‘Revelation’, but are useful insofar as they inform us of what was normative amongst Mohammed’s companions:

[…] Umm al-Muhajir said, “I was captured with some girls from Byzantium. Uthman [a close companion of Mohammed] offered us Islam, but only myself and one other girl accepted Islam. Uthman said, ‘Go trim them down [khifaad hma] and purify them.’”” Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 53:1245

“Umm Alqama related that when the daughters of Aisha’s brother were circumcised [khitan], Aisha was asked, ‘Shall we call someone to amuse them?’ ‘Yes,’ she replied. Adi was sent for […]’ Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 53:1247

Note that several of these Hadith report purely female genital mutilation and that the word ‘Khitan’ is used for both FGM and MGM. Today, ‘Khitan’ is used only for MGM, leading some to mistakenly claim that the ‘fitrah’ and the ‘four parts’ Hadiths advocate only MGM.


Increasing globalisation and advancing women’s rights have made the world more aware of, and concerned about FGM. These developments, and secularism, have penetrated the Islamic world, so that many Moslems are also uneasy about FGM. The most frequently-cited fatwa critical of FGM is Dr Ahmed Talib’s (a former Dean of the Faculty of Shariah of Al Azhar university, Islam’s most prestigious seat of scholarship).

“All practices of female circumcision and mutilation are crimes and have no relationship with Islam. Whether it involves the removal of the skin or the cutting of the flesh of the female genital organs…it is not an obligation in Islam.” (2005)

The statement [FGM] is not an obligation in Islam’ actually boils down to 1/ FGM is allowed in Islam, and 2/ it can’t be forbidden (for if it were he would have said so). Yet primed by his opening condemnations, his conclusion is easily misread as being prohibitory.

(The obfuscatory nature of his statement becomes clearer if one replaces ‘FGM’ with some equivalent act: [rape] is not an obligation in Islam’. Moreover, most core precepts and practices of all religions/ideologies are not ‘obligatory’: Holy Communion is no less ‘Christian’ for not being obligatory; many forms of prayer are voluntary in Islam, but that makes them no less ‘Islamic’.)

Dr Talib’s prevarication results from his conscience being in conflict with Islamic jurisprudence, an axiom of which is that only that which god or Mohammed unambiguously forbade can be forbidden. As we saw earlier, Mohammed, far from forbidding, FGM, advocated it. This means that no school of Islamic jurisprudence (Sharia) can forbid FGM.

Not that Mohammed was shy about forbidding things. Compare Dr Talib’s prevarication over FGM with a fatwa concerning alcohol:

“[Mohammed] cursed alcohol and the one who drinks it, the one who sells it, the one who buys it, the one who carries it, the one to whom it is carried, the one who consumes its price, the one who squeezes the grapes and the one for whom they are squeezed.” Selling alcohol to kaafirs Islam Q&A 2000

One can only wonder how things would be different if Mohammed had similarly cursed and forbidden FGM.

Nor is Dr Talib correct in stating that FGM ‘is not an obligation in Islam’: Shafi’ism – one of the four schools of Sunni Islam (which constitutes 90% of Moslems) decrees FGM as obligatory (the other three schools recommend FGM as ‘optional’ or ‘honourable’). Unsurprisingly FGM rates are highest under Shafi’ism (e.g. Somalia 98%).

Schools of Fiqh + FGM

Schools of Fiqh + FGM


“FGM/C [is] stubbornly resistant to change” Gerry Mackie (2009)

In 1996 Mackie predicted that pledge associations would accomplish FGM’s eradication. Where tried, results have been disappointing, especially when compared to China’s spectacular abandonment of footbinding. FGM is instead increasing in incidence, spreading to previously unaffected countries and reappearing where eradicated.


Firstly, Mackie assumes that the extreme polygyny that engenders FGM is no longer practiced. He overlooks that:

– Moslems can have up to four wives (which is arguably enough to require fidelity-assurance measures),

– neither the Koran nor the Hadith set a limit to how many sex-slaves a Moslem male may own (whose chastity must also be guaranteed). Sexual slavery is still common in the Islamic world – whether overt (Islamic State, Boko Haram etc.) or covert (Islamic grooming gangs in the West).

Trafficking of women

Trafficking of women

But the oversight that most limits the explanatory scope of Mackie’s theory is that, unlike footbinding, FGM is not just a social convention but is also a religious practice.

There are two ways in which this religious dimension determines FGM’s perpetuation, spread, and resistance to eradication: directly via doctrines favouring or allowing FGM, and indirectly via doctrines which create conditions where chastity protection measures may be necessary or useful.

Islamic doctrine engenders an obsession with preserving female pre-marital virginity, upon which depends the ‘honour’ of the girl, her family and clan. Women/girls are held responsible for not only their own sexual behaviour, but also that of men, including any sexual crimes committed against them. Shifting responsibility for male sexual violence from the perpetrators to the victims creates sexually violent societies in which chastity-control measures may be necessary.

Polygyny creates ‘bride vacuums’ amongst non-elite men that can be alleviated either through sexual violence, which increases the need for fidelity assurance measures such as FGM (see maps below) or by taking women from non-Moslem communities as sex slaves – engendering an expansionist dynamic which spreads Islam and FGM. As Islam expanded and subjugated new peoples it also sanctified any indigenous FGM it encountered, FGM that would have died out but for Islam’s patronage.

Prevalence and Legal status of Polygyny + Weighted Relative International Rape Scale

Prevalence and Legal status of Polygyny + Weighted Relative International Rape Scale

Likewise bride-to-groom dowries place a financial value on a girl’s chastity and reputation; and Sharia law makes it almost impossible for a woman or child to bring a prosecution for rape.

FGM was practised by Mohammed’s tribe (the Banu Hashim) in pre-Islamic Arabia. Other tribes (notably Jews and Christians) didn’t practise FGM. By integrating FGM into his new religion, rather than following the Jewish example and forbidding it, and by pronouncing his own example and teachings as divine revelation, Mohammed sanctified and eternised a practice that would otherwise have died out. Enshrined in its sacred texts, Islam became the ever-fecund wellspring of FGM.

The world history of FGM is essentially one of its eradication. In Mankind’s early history FGM probably occurred world-wide, but sporadically where the precursors outlined by Mackie prevailed. However, it died out on exposure to monogamous kinship structures and the relatively advanced human rights of Graeco-Roman civilisation and Christianity. By resisting these, and by sanctifying FGM and the factors that engender it (polygyny and slavery – females captured for sex-slavery were infibulated), Islam has prevented this process from reaching completion, and consequently today defines the zones where FGM continues to flourish.

FGM + World Muslim Population

FGM + World Muslim Population


About 80% of FGM is attributable to Moslems. However it would be wrong to conclude from this that the remaining 20% is ‘non-Islamic’. Virtually all non-Moslem FGM occurs under the aegis of Islam – either at the historical centres of the Islamic slave trade (Nigeria, Eritrea & Ethiopia, Kenya), or amongst religious minorities living in Islamic countries where FGM is normative and institutionalised.

These minorities, for centuries isolated from their religions’ mainstream, have adopted the dominant community’s practices, including FGM, in order to blend in and minimise discrimination and persecution. Though Moslem women can’t marry outside their religion, Moslem men can (Mohammed married a Jewess). As marginalised and persecuted groups in Moslem-dominated societies, non-Moslems have much to gain by successful hypergyny and this incentivises non-Moslem families to adopt FGM.

The notable mass abandonments of FGM have occurred amongst minority non-Moslem practitioners, such as the Beta Israel Jews of Ethiopia; and the successes of the Pledge Association method reported by Mackie in his 2009 paper were Egyptian Copts and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Such groups, because not doctrinally shackled to the practice, readily abandon it when Pledge Associations make abandonment possible.

Compare this to Moslem practitioners who, on moving to non-Islamic countries where FGM is not normative, go to great lengths, to the point of breaking their adopted country’s laws, in order to maintain the practice (see here, here & here).


Imagine a society that doesn’t forbid, punish or even stigmatise murder, that instead tolerates, recommends, even commands it. Would it be surprising if that society were rife with murder?

Imagine societies defined by an ideology that, far from forbidding or stigmatising FGM, tolerates, praises, and commands it even. Should we surprised that such societies are rife with FGM?

Religions are keen to take credit for any good they can lay claim to, but should they not be held equally responsible for any ills they (knowingly or inadvertently) engender, aggravate or perpetuate?

If FGM is indeed un-Islamic then why, over its 1400 year existence, has Islam not even attempted to eliminate it, as it does all things ‘un-Islamic’, but instead tolerated, spread and promoted it?

Had Mohammed forbidden FGM (as he did alcohol and pork), or criticised it, or even just not mentioned it, FGM would have died out under Islam, as it has done under every other ideology, religion and social system. And the world would have been spared 1400 years-worth of the practice.

No problem is resolvable whose causes remain unaddressed. Pointing out the causal links between Islam and FGM has become taboo, dismissed as a symptom of a ‘phobia’. This taboo will ensure FGM’s continued flourishing and spread. Establishing a discourse around FGM that is free of taboos, insults and imputed motives is the crucial first step in resisting the growing ascendancy of FGM. It is a first step each one of us can take.

It’s all been happening out there


I promised a number of brief news items the other day after a week or two with a whole bunch of stuff happening. After a bit more time for further thought and updating, some of what follows is not that brief but I do believe it is all worthy of our attention. So, enjoy! – or endure: either way, it’s rather compelling stuff.


The British government’s ill-fated attempt to set up an over-arching enquiry into all sorts of sex abuse going right back (well almost) to the biblical Lot* drunkenly shagging his daughter, saw the appointment of its third chair, the first two having fallen victim to victimisation by historic “victims”.

At least the appointee, New Zealand High Court judge Lowell Goddard cannot reasonably be accused of being too close and cosy with the British legal and political Establishment. Anyone acceptable to the victim lobby must of course be viscerally anti-paedophile, so this quote from her in a Guardian profile comes as no surprise: “There have been very few people throughout my career that I have not been able to relate to in any way. These were the paedophiles and the psychopaths. Usually I could relate in a professional way to anyone, no matter what they’d done.” On the other hand, the Guardian tells us, she kept the name of a convicted paedophile secret in a case where presumably “the victims” (and the media) wanted it otherwise.

Ben Emmerson QC welcomed Goddard’s appointment, saying she is “one of the most respected and experienced judges in the Commonwealth” and much more, in fact pretty much the greatest thing since sliced abusers. Or was he thinking of sliced victims? As legal counsel to the enquiry, Emmerson firmly put Sharon Evans, one of the victims’ lobby representatives on the enquiry panel, in her place, saying she could not tell the difference between truth and error and had “done no service to the survivor community”.

That took balls. Emmerson is clearly a man not afraid to speak his mind. He nearly started World War III the other day, calling Vladimir Putin a “common criminal dressed up as a head of state” who ordered the murder of Alexander Litvinenko to stop him exposing Putin’s corrupt “mafia” regime. Emmerson had been representing the former spy’s family at the enquiry into his death by polonium poisoning. Very soon after this, in an incident some see as linked to Emmerson’s insults, Russian bombers were intercepted by the RAF flying provocatively close to British airspace over the English Channel.

I am digressing a bit here, but it gets even more interesting, I promise, so never mind. In another plot turn, Litvinenko had accused Putin of being a paedophile, after mad, bad Vlad publicly lifted up a five-year-old boy’s tee-shirt and kissed him on the stomach. The Daily Mail carried the story, complete with the boys’ name, Nikita Konkin, back in 2006. There is also a photo of the deed on Google images so we can judge for ourselves. Verdict, anyone?

Anyway, back to Judge Lowell Goddard. I asked my friend in New Zealand who blogs as “peterhoo” if he had any lowdown on her. After a bit of digging he came up with some fascinating information totally at odds with Emmerson’s high opinion. As you will see from links on his interesting latest blog, “Still breaking rules, but that’s okay”, a survey of New Zealand judges has given her the lowest rating of the lot: 63rd out of 63. The comment says:

“Low marks across the board. Much criticism of Goddard J’s obsession with self-image, which this judge understands can only be maintained by kowtowing to powerful special interests. Said to be as committed to law as she is at marriage (several times), Goddard is regarded by some as a human rights hypocrite, her judgement disconnected with her diligent efforts to be portrayed as a human rights advocate. “Puppet” came up more than once to describe this judge who is as white as any Irishman yet routinely describes herself as a disadvantaged Maori.”

Ouch! Not sure about that last jab. Yes, she definitely looks quite pale in her photos. Does this firmly establish that she has very little Maori “blood”? I know skin colour depends on lots of genes so a simple recessive gene explanation is presumably not available, but… But I digress again!

* First off, I mistakenly said Abraham. Sorry about that and thanks to Kit Marlowe for correction. See comments below.


The Daily Telegraph, among other mainstream sources, told us:

“Rotherham Council is an organisation still ‘in denial’ about its total failure to protect 1,400 girls from child sexual exploitation, a devastating government report said. Louise Casey, who was asked to carry out an inspection of the council by the Department for Communities and Local Government, found that staff did not accept the findings of an independent inquiry carried out by Professor Alexis Jay last year.”

Casey’s report may have been right, but what I found most shocking was a report of one of the BBC’s main current affairs programmes, Radio 4’s The World At One. At a time when Rotherham Council was telling the BBC they would need time to digest the report, and that they would issue a statement later, presenter Edward Stourton interviewed Casey. BBC correspondent Michael Buchanan had reported that 70% of council members disputed the findings, especially about the figure of 1,400 victims. “We keep hearing about all these victims, but where are they?” was reportedly a widespread response by council members.

That sounds like a pretty good question to me. Why have very few of these alleged “victims” come forward and said they are victims?

But it didn’t stop Stourton from simply assuming the truth of the Casey report and interpreting the councillors’ response merely as proof of them being “in denial”. Likewise Casey herself, who was given an easy ride by Stourton, said some councillors had “questioned the methodology” of the report, as though that too was proof of their guilt rather than legitimate scepticism.

If even a town’s elected representatives can be gang-raped like this by the national government and the premier national broadcaster, what chance do we have as individual heretics?


The “very private” funeral of British former home secretary Leon Brittan was reported this week following his death last month. His burial comes amidst persistent rumours that he had done some burying of his own in his time, covering up a dossier of evidence that supposedly incriminated senior politicians in “the sexual abuse of boys in the 1980s”.

I have no idea whether there was any truth in this, but I think we can discount the wildest allegations made against him, the most recent of which have been far more shocking than any cover-up. According to the Daily Mail, Labour MP Tom Watson said Brittan stood accused of “multiple child rape”. The “evidence”, such as it is, comes from an anonymous witness dubbed “Nick”, who claims he was raped “more than a dozen times”. He is quoted as saying Lord Brittan “would treat me like I was not even human”, adding that the peer was “nasty, cruel, sadistic and hateful”.

Other witnesses, who appear to be former rent boys – who would go back time and again to be “raped” by politicians and other VIPs – have even attested to the murder of several boys as part of this scandal, but we are not told about any bodies being found, nor any names of missing persons who might have been the victims.

Another factor that makes me doubt the credibility of these rent-boy witnesses is that one of them, “Darren”, made similarly lurid allegations against my old friends Charles Napier and Peter Righton, accusing them of callous and sadistic abuse. I am absolutely certain these were outright lies.


Garry Glitter, 1970s rock star, faces possible life imprisonment after being convicted of “historic” sex offences involving three young girls. His chances of avoiding a long sentence look slim given his earlier convictions for similar offences in Vietnam, and also child porn possession.

In a vintage week for show trials, Glitter was far from alone. Also in the dock was TV weatherman Fred Talbot, facing historic offences involving boys, dating from his earlier career in teaching. This trial almost out-glittered Glitter, as one of the accusers, former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown, used to be a star himself. A one-time pupil of Talbot’s at Altrincham grammar school, near Manchester, Brown interestingly let slip that Talbot was different from most of the other teachers because he “wasn’t violent”. Will this help Talbot? Nah! Not being properly hard is a sure sign of a nonce!

Any star case would usually be big, but here’s one that might slip under your radar in such an incredible time for such cases: folk-rock singer/songwriter Roy Harper could face a re-trial on five charges of historical sexual abuse involving young girls after a jury failed to reach verdicts. Harper’s influence has been acknowledged by many musicians including Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, who named the song “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper” after him.


Even those of us who feel that male genital mutilation in infancy or childhood is a serious form of abuse would probably agree that female genital mutilation (FGM) is often far worse, especially in its more radical forms. So many of us welcomed the news last year that prosecutions directed against this practice were reportedly in the pipeline in Britain, after decades of official foot-dragging on the issue.

What we did not know is that the first case to reach a conclusion would be an utterly idiotic one to bring, resulting in a rapid and obviously correct jury decision to acquit. There now has to be some suspicion that this crazy case was brought simply in order to undermine public pressure for further prosecutions against FGM, the fear in official circles being that they will serve only to stoke the flames of religious and cultural tension.

The problem is, there is something in it: in France, where there have been many FGM prosecutions, and also attempts to ensure acceptance of French culture by such means as the banning of head-scarves, such tensions are far more strongly pronounced. It is a real dilemma, which Heretic TOC has been meaning for some time to address.


News has reached Heretic TOC of a nightmarish situation in which distinguished anthropologist Walter Lee Williams finds himself in an American prison, having been forced through complicated circumstances to submit to a plea bargain on child sex charges. This is a story I hope to take up in more detail in due course. It is far too complex to be dealt with briefly but readers can catch up with Williams’ extensive work in anthropology and queer activism (“gay rights” doesn’t really hack it) at the links here and here.


A sensational start, with around a million views in the first 24 hours, for a public education article. That ought to be excellent news, but as this is one of those VP efforts, in league with their favoured abuse industry professionals, the word “education” here really needs to come with scare quotes. My view? It’s slick, with eye-catching graphics and user-friendly language. There’s a lot of good information too. In the end it’s just the moralising that sticks in the craw.


More than any other story I have seen recently, this one captures the craziness of our times. A family staged the kidnapping of their own six-year-old boy, abusing him horribly in the process, to teach him it’s dangerous to be nice to strangers – and thereby neatly demonstrating that paranoid parenting is what should really scare us.

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