Ei kulturelt betinga lovtolking

Dette innlegget er en bearbeidd utgave av et innlegg som først blei publisert hos Maddam. Det sto på trykk i Klassekampen tirsdag 24. april 2012.

Faksimile av Klassekampens utgave av artikkelen
Faksimile av artikkelen på trykk i Klassekampen tirsdag 24. april 2012

Jakta på skjønnhet har funnet veien til skrittet. Såkalt «intimkirurgi» er neppe svært utbredt, men etterspørselen etter kirurgiske inngrep for å gjøre kvinnelige kjønnsorganer vakrere er stigende. Lovverket kan likevel virke uklart. Kjønnslemlestelseslova slår fast at den som utfører irreversible inngrep på kvinners kjønnsorganer skal straffes. Likevel har ingen plastikkirurger blitt etterforska eller tiltalt. Forarbeidene til lova (ot. prp. 50 (’94-’95)) gjør det klart at det er en spesifikk kulturell praksis som skal rammes. Den nevner ikke plastisk kirurgi. Er det rimelig?

Jeg vil slå fast at jeg mener at kjønnslemlestelse eller såkalt «omskjæring» av jentebarn er et forkastelig overgrep. Ingen ved sine fulle fem vil hevde at dette er noe vi skal finne oss i at små jenter blir utsatt for i Norge. Men har jeg forstått rettssituasjonen rett, er det noen grenseoppganger for voksne, samtykkende kvinner som framstår absurde.

I forarbeidene til Kjønnslemlestelseslova avgrenses det uttrykkelig mot noen former for inngrep som ikke skal rammes:

Forbudet rammer ikke inngrep som er medisinsk begrunnet, f.eks. nødvendige inngrep i forbindelse med fødsel, fjerning av kjønnsorganer ved kreft o.a. Korrigering av medfødte misdannelser som f.eks. tvekjønnethet eller legitime kjønnsskifteoperasjoner rammes heller ikke av forbudet.

Dette framstår som ei fornuftig avgrensing. Lista er ikke uttømmende, men viser til eksempler innafor to hovedområder: Inngrep med medisinsk begrunnelse og kjønns(-identitets-) bekreftende inngrep. Hvordan stiller det seg med «intimkirurgien»? I en artikkel i Dagbladets nettmagasin kjendis.no er Halfdan Simensen, en av kirurgene som tilbyr denne typen inngrep, intervjua:

«I likhet med bryster kommer kjønnslepper i alle utgaver, og nesten alt er normalt. Men individuell frihet er et viktig poeng her, og etter nærmere 500 operasjoner er min erfaring at slike operasjoner dekker et faktisk behov. Dessverre blåser mange gynekologer i hva kvinnene selv føler.»

I nettforum for kvinner diskuteres intimkirurgi. Noen forteller om problemer som åpenbart er av medisinsk art, andre om at sykkelseter og undertøy ikke passer. Mange historier handler om skjønnhetsidealer.

En bruker forteller for eksempel:

«Tør ikke å gå med bikinitruse for det er en stor klump mellom bena mine da. Og er veldig redd for å være intim med folk.»

En annen bruker har tydeligvis sterkere problemer med sjølbildet sitt:

«Problemet er at jeg ikke vil føde før jeg har gjort det, for en jordmor vil nok ikke ta imot en unge fra det stygge underlivet mitt…»

Man kan mene hva man vil om disse utsagna og plastikkirurgens oppfordring om å ta på alvor hva kvinner føler, men det er vanskelig  å se at forarbeidene til Kjønnslemlestelseslova omfatter individuell frihet og følelser:

«Et av formålene med lovforslaget er bl.a. å fange opp de tilfeller som ikke rammes av straffelovens bestemmelser. Det vises i denne forbindelse spesielt til at et samtykke fra en myndig og tilregnelig kvinne til et inngrep av mindre omfang kan være straffriende etter straffeloven. Departementet foreslår at forbudet gjelder uansett om kvinnen har gitt samtykke til omskjæring.»

Lova gjør det altså forbudt å utføre inngrep som gir varige endringer av kjønnsorganene til myndige, tilregnelige kvinner som har gitt sitt uttrykkelige samtykke. Men er ikke kjønnslemlestelse med kulturell begrunnelse vesensforskjellig fra «intimkirurgi»?

La oss se på hva klinikkene kan tilby. Plastikkirurgisk institutt har den mest utfyllende beskrivelsen av sitt tilbud. Der kan man få utført:

1)      reduksjon/formkorreksjon av indre kjønnslepper

2)      reduksjon/oppstramming av ytre kjønnslepper

3)      formkorreksjon av klitorisområde

4)      volumøkning (ytre kjønnslepper, hele genitalkompleks) med eget fett

5)      vaginal rejuvenation, dvs reduksjon av skjedens indre diameter

6)      fettsuging av genitalkomplekset

Dersom man ser på Verdens helseorganisasjons definisjon av kjønnslemlestelse, er det klart at disse inngrepene omfattes av definisjonen på kjønnslemlestelse innenfor 3 av 4 av deres definerte hovedgrupper. Det bør presiseres at den gruppa som ikke berøres er den klart mest alvorlige – den som omfatter såkalt infibulasjon, der de ytre kjønnsleppene sys sammen.

Bilde som viser de ulike formene for kjønnslemlestelse skjematisk. Et normalt underliv, type I, der klitoris eller bare klitorisforhuden fjernes, type II, illustrert ved at også deler av de indre kjønnsleppene er fjerna, og type 3, der det i tillegg til fjerning a v disse kroppsdelene sys sting på tvers av de ytre kjønnsleppene, slik at hele genitalområdet lukkes.
Skjematisk framstilling av genitalområde uten inngrep, og kjønnslemlestelse type I, II og III i de vanligste utførelsene.

Fra definisjonene i WHOs rapport «Eliminating female genital mutilation»  er det klart at «formkorreksjon av klitorisområdet» til en viss grad sammenfaller med type I, delvis eller fullstendig fjerning av klitoris og/eller klitorisforhuden. Et inngrep i klitorisområdets form vil som regel omfatte fjerning av deler av klitorisforhuden.

Reduksjon/oppstramming av indre kjønnslepper vil omfattes av type II, delvis eller fullstendig fjerning av klitoris og de indre kjønnsleppene. Det finnes nemlig en variant, type IIa, som bare omfatter de indre kjønnsleppene.

Den siste gruppa som omfattes er Type IV, som er ei samlegruppe som omfatter alle skadelige eller potensielt skadelige inngrep på kvinnelige kjønnsorganer. Piercing er uttrykkelig nevnt her. Strekking av de indre kjønnsleppene er et annet fenomen som tas opp. Det er neppe relevant i forhold til intimkirurgien, men årsaken til at det er nevnt er det i høyeste grad:

Strekking av kjønnsleppene kan defineres som en form for kjønnslemlesting, fordi det er en sosial konvensjon, og derfor møter jentene sosialt press for å endre på kjønnsorganene sine.

Kutting eller innføring av skadelige substanser i skjeden for å gjøre den trangere eller for å øke egen eller partnerens seksuelle nytelse tas også opp. «Vaginal rejuvenation» kan vel tenkes å rammes av denne definisjonen.

Hvordan avgrenser plastikkirurgene? Halfdan Simensen sier til kjendis.no:

«Jeg avviser få, men unge kvinner ønsker jeg skal ha henvisning fra gynekolog og samtykke fra mor.»

Hvordan gjør han da, reint teoretisk, forskjell på ei 16-årig norsk jente som kommer med brev fra mor og «ikke kan leve med det stygge underlivet» sitt, og den 16-årige jenta med senegalesisk bakgrunn som kommer og sier at «jeg orker ikke tanken på å gå rundt med det ekle, uomskårne underlivet mitt – kan du fjerne de indre kjønnsleppene mine», mens mora venter på forværelset?

Enda verre: Hva med de myndige? Dersom realiteten i dag er at den reint kosmetiske «intimkirurgien» ikke er omfatta av Kjønnslemlestelselova, er det eneste holdepunktet forarbeidenes formulering om at

Det uttales at departementet anser det som svært viktig å ta hensyn til innvandrerkulturers normer, men at ikke enhver norm er beskyttelsesverdig dersom det dreier seg om undertrykkende eller fysisk ødeleggende normer.

Det er heller ikke slik at de umiddelbare skadevirkningene av intimkirurgi blekner ved siden av kulturelt betinga kjønnslemlestelse. For å definere inngrepets grovhet, legger lova særlig vekt på umiddelbare følger. Kravet for at det skal foreligge et grovt tilfelle, der strafferamma er 8 års fengsel, er at

inngrepet har som følge sykdom eller arbeidsudyktighet som varer over 2 uker, eller en uhelbredelig lyte, feil eller skade er voldt

En bruker på kvinneguiden.no skriver om følgene av en reduksjon av de indre kjønnsleppene:

«Jeg hadde tatt fri fra jobben i 2 uker og 3 dager. Altfor mye fri tenkte jeg. der tok jeg feil! Var så hoven at jeg ikke gikk ut døra på 10 dager og hevelsen gikk ned etter dag 13. og ble i løpet av 3 uker tilbake til nesten normalt.»

Det kan i praksis bety at den eneste juridisk relevante forskjellen på «intimkirurgi» og grov kjønnslemlestelse for voksne, samtykkende kvinner er hvilket normsett som ligger til grunn. Tar du valget på bakgrunn av skjønnhetsidealer formulert i vestlig kultur, ser det ut til at den som utfører inngrepet ikke bare går fri fra straff, men får lov til å markedsføre det og utføre det på mindreårige. Tar du valget på bakgrunn av idealer formulert i en del andre kulturer, særlig afrikanske, skal utøveren straffes.

Slik den rettslige situasjonen er i dag framstår den delen av Kjønnslemlestelseslova som dreier seg om voksne, samtykkende individer som diskriminering, slik det er definert i Diskrimineringslova. Er vi ikke villige til å gå så langt som til å forby pynting med skalpell, bør vi alle fall ta oss bryet med å vurdere hvordan vi forholder oss til det å være myndig og ta ansvar for sin egen kropp. Vi har solide, generelle straffebud som rammer tvang og legemsbeskadigelse. Trenger vi da straffebud som bare rammer afrikanere?

6 tanker om “Ei kulturelt betinga lovtolking”

  1. Well that’s quite a sad bit of apologism…

    What makes white guys completely sympathize with the enemy/outsider and speak endlessly on their behalf? Is it rebelliousness, ideology, self hate.. what? If I didnt see things like this so often I would not believe it even if people tell me. Do you not place your own ethnic interests first? I mean amongst people like me, this kind of treason is pretty much unheard of no matter how liberal we get

    Seriously, as a non white guy who just translated your site, I’m quite curious

    1. Hi, cao.

      First of all, discussing issues from a personal point of origin while anonymous is quite hopeless. You point to your own non-whiteness as a basis to place your ethnic interests first. If your IP address tells anything about who you are, hailing from British Columbia, your origins may be in any part of the world. As far as I know, the largest non-white populations in BC are of Chinese and African-American origin, but I’ll refrain from trying to guess.

      When it comes to your assertion that it is treason not to place one’s own «ethnic interests» first, how can you defend such a point of view in the light of history? Wasn’t Europe’s colonial project, slave trade and all, an exquisite example of the wrongs that follow when states use their power in disregard of the rights of non-white peoples across the globe? Perhaps you would like to moderate your claim, narrowing it to «the ethnic homeland» or something of the sorts. Then perhaps I should defend the South African white minority’s apartheid policies? A further moderation might argue that the ethnic majority population should be allowed to assert itself, in which case Europe’s history of dealing with Gypsies and Jews, and the ethnic wars on the Balkans spring to mind. Or I could interpret you point of view such that the assertion of one’s «ethnic interests» is only admissible when it is (mostly) non-violent, using the government instruments of democratic states, such as laws and budgets, as well as informal power, applicable only in the «ethnic homeland» under majority or coalition rule. Now that’s worked splendidly for India’s dalits, Europe’s post-WWII Gypsies and America’s pre-1960s African-Americans, hasn’t it? As you can understand, I am equally puzzled, when it comes to understanding why someone believes that it is morally right to divide people in terms of ethnicity. You are welcome to explain.

      What I tried to do in this text, was to point out what I believe to be hypocrisy: We have a law against female genital mutilation which apparently doesn’t target plastical surgery, although no part of the law’s wording makes that clear. The only pretext for not applying it to anyone who permanently alters female genitals is found in the parliamentary bill’s introductory reasoning, where one points at «immigrant culture». How is this culture «immigrant»? Because it belongs to immigrants? I know immigrants, with whom I share a greater part of my value system, than I do with parts of the ethnically Norwegian populace. In many ways, I consider ethnic Norwegians more foreign to me than many immigrants and immigrant descendants, when they demand waiving the rule of law in order to expulse Gypsies and criminal refugees facing the death penalty upon extradition from Norway.

      In my opinion, using ethnicity as a moral compass will lead you to hell, metaphorically speaking. There may be circumstances that make it less comdemnable, but in my opinion it is morally wrong in almost any case that I can think of. Instead, I want laws that are based on rational premises, applied with equity and a national culture that embraces diversity, fosters solidarity and encourages its bearers to uphold these principles.

      1. Hi Mr. Larsen,

        My point was, that one’s racial or ethnic interests should come far before morality. At least that’s how it works for us, even if we don’t advertise this fact. We’ve usually done it without outright violence or overt bigotry in the European style, and it’s worked marvelously. We are, not to brag, insurmountable. There are no other ethnic group that could possibly challenge us. If one chooses the average human on earth, it would be one of us. If there is one last ethnic group standing, it would be us. (Take a guess) We’ve achieved this through extensive assimilation, marginalization, and yes, xenophobia. We did not colonize other people, we did not lynch blacks, we did not segregate, we did not kill the native Americans, but we have still succeeded in maintaining our ethnic interests. And you don’t have to do any of those awful things if you simply kept foreigners out of the country. Amongst our people even the most liberal would at best be «sympathetic», there is nothing like «anti-racist» or anything that’s even remotely detrimental to our ethnicity as a whole.

        I looked up Norway’s demographics and it is clear that the percentage of foreigners you’re allowing in will definitely alter Norway’s ethnic and cultural composition, especially with Norway’s small population. If this is your choice, I respect it. But, why? Do you not value your own likeness? Do you not feel threatened? Because honestly, immigration of this level would never, ever be allowed in my home country (I’m an immigrant to Canada), you would have to force it on us at gunpoint.

        When Norway is mixed, diluted or altered beyond past recognition, the «other» will still have a homeland with their own ethnic likeness, and you won’t. Is this not unfair to you? If the day comes where every race intermingles in equal amount in every country, then I think it’s fair to resign to multiculturalism. But it’s not like that. By the Western model, they will remain, while you will never be the same again. To be blunt, it is a form of peaceful genocide. I know this view is considered racist in the West, but it’s an unspoken truth within my group.

        Race and ethnicity is a popular internet topic back home. I was lead to your Wikipedia page through a discussion condemning Western views on multiculturalism, then I found this blog. After looking through your recent activities, I understood why the other observers found the situation incredible. You, and several other presumably white editors defend a group of Muslims in ways that is pretty much unthinkable by our standards. Even more unbelievable is that the Muslims you assume good faith in quite clearly exhibit the attitude and combatitiveness of, well, right wingers. These seem to be people who are actively pursing their ethnic or at least identity interests while under the comfortable shelter of «tolerance», just because they’re a minority. These are the people that would react defensively if put in the same shoes, with outsiders flooding into their native country. Essentially, the same sort of person you would slam if they were a white Norwegian, except from the other side. Not to deride you, but is all this not apparent to you? Or are you doing it knowingly?

        Forgive the lengthiness, but this issue lingers in the mind of every person in my ethnic group, and I may be one of the few that will ever ask openly about it. I have no particular love for Westerners or their minorities (except us), and I am not here to insult you, but an explanation for this mentality would be greatly illuminating and appreciated.

        1. I’m sorry I didn’t reply before. Since you used different e-mail addresses, I had to approve the comments separately (all commenters must have one post in order to make further comments). As I didn’t see your response before, you probably visited the blog again before I had approved it.

          When it comes to the proposed model of Chinese ethnic supremacy, I’d say that it’s hardly morally impressive, if you look into it in greater detail. True, Han Chinese seem to be a homogenous group today, but if you dig deep into the history of China, won’t you see that Chinese «ethnicity» turns out to be mostly Chinese culture? China wasn’t built in a day, and the consolidation of the Chinese heartland was hardly a clean process. On the other hand, this took place in the mists of antiquity. What China is doing in Xinjiang and Tibet today, however, isn’t exactly pretty, either. It might not meet the common criteria of genocide, but is certainly more repressive than the kind of assimilative policies which my country used against the Sami people. And it sure looks rather colonial. If, on your scale Norwegian immigration policies constitute a peaceful sui-genocide, how would you charcterise current Chinese minority policies?

          Norway’s ethnic and cultural composition has hardly been stable during recorded history. The population before Medieval times was itself the result of three migration waves, known only through archeological records. Also known through such records is a large-scale export of iron in Roman ages, even as far north as Trøndelag. The introduction of Christianity about 1000 years ago must have been quite destabilising and obviously carried with it the destruction of much of the native religious culture. With it came clergy from Britain and Southern European countries. The Viking ages led to the influx of large numbers of foreign slaves, among them many Celts. The women, at least, had children that have diluted «original Norwegian stock» for 40 generations. Probably long enough to permeate the genetics quite profoundly. After that, the Hanseatic league established offices in Bergen, leading to a steady influx of German and Baltic lineages for a couple of hundred years. This probably had mostly a local effect, confined to the Bergen area. In between, the Black Death killed 2/3 of the population, and it’s quite probable that some of the recent immigrants were more resistant. Add to this the years under Denmark, sprinkles of Italian and Spanish fishermen and traders all along the coast (two of my great-great-grandfathers were shipwrecked Mediterranean sailors), thorough intermixing with Sami peoples in Northern Norway (if I remember correctly, the genetic makeup of the Sami includes some markers otherwise only found among some reindeer herders in the Russian Far East), a wave of Finnish immigrants in the 1600s and more. Despite of this, it is probably possible to define a Norwegian ethnicity in terms of statistical genetics. But «likeness»? My eldest daughter is half Korean (her mother was adopted). My youngest sister half Filipino. Do I owe them less because of that?

          Even though I think the idea of being «fair» to the worldwide representation of the colour of skin, eyes and hair is quite absurd, I don’t really see the problem in genetic terms. The statistical changes in the genetic makeup of the inhabitants of Norway over the next couple of hundred years is nothing new, it’s just a bit quicker than before. In terms of genetic fitness, it’s not impossible that it is to the benefit of future Norwegians that they have a larger pool of disease resistance genes to draw upon. The immigrants themselves usually have their own, complex genetic histories: Punjab has been overrun by invaders several times, Poland is a mish-mash, Somalia is the border between Africa and Arabia, and so forth. But as I’ve already hinted to, I don’t really consider these issues important. The genes are only the basis, they’re not what makes us human in a larger sense. I believe that the important issue is the experience of being human, not the programming.

          What I do on Wikipedia is not to defend Muslims, but to defend the encyclopedia. I don’t mind having the truth told as long as there’s proper context and balance. And I have problems seeing how I defend a «group» of Muslims. The articles where I’ve done most of my work on Wikipedia are mainly about opposition against Islam as such. As I’ve witnessed how paranoid fear of Islam drove a man to commit the worst spree killing on historical record and bomb the government’s headquarters in my hometown, and that same man spoke of the importance of winning the information war in sources like Wikipedia, I consider my editing to be a natural act of resistance. When I started editing, the article on Eurabia read as if Eurabia was a fact. That’s just stupid.

          It doesn’t seem like we’re talking about the same Muslims. Muslim immigrants to Norway are not predominantly pursuing ethnic or identity interests. Nor do they vote for religious or right-wing parties. Attempts to create parties specifically for immigrants have failed miserably. Immigrants are mostly left wing, probably because of their economic interests. For the record, I despise the exclusionist and patriarchical policies advanced by some fringe Muslim groups who claim to speak the true Islam. But I also consider their claim to be ludicrous.

          I guess the shorter answer to your question has to do with deconstruction. I don’t think that it is rational to believe in a link between ethnicity and culture, and I think that it is outright harmful to cherish such a belief. I believe that culture is mainly a product of the society it exists in. It has some inertia. As long as someone is able to maintain contact with her culture and especially when there is a local community that upholds it, it lingers on, although gradually diminishing in strength.

        2. Hi Mr. Larsen,

          Sorry I misunderstood your intent. I am not questioning your beliefs, but merely wondering how you came to believe them.

          As for morals, it is generally the unspoken view that morals are only needed to maintain an «image» and should not be seriously bought into. Your example of what happens in Xinjiang and Xizang is regrettable, but ultimately still justified in terms of ethnic interests. There probably will not be Tibetans in a century, and Uyghurs have been pushed out of their power bases by Han migrants. In a way it may be «oppressive», but since these people assert their identities and do not wish to join the Han identity, it is necessary to prevent disunity. It is true that Han Chinese is in fact an accumulation of many peoples and cultures, but through heavy assimilation and purging of those who resist, no Han Chinese today has any kind of link to their pre-assimilation identities. That is what’s most important.

          I am not an expert on Norwegian history, but I feel it is justified at any point for the «locals» to resist any form of foreign influx, as it is their right. This should be true of any country. It would be fine if all humans were to mix and forget their identities, but this is clearly not what happens. From our point of view, it is still just one ethnic group forcing their ways and their likeness into another, and cannot be assumed acceptable until they tolerate the same happening to their own group in their native countries. Because of this, we cannot allow the dilution, or alteration to our culture, bloodline and ethnic identity brought on by outsiders under the pretense of humanism. As far as we can tell, not acting upon one’s ethnic interests is not the beginning of an equal and borderless world, it only allows others to push their ethnic interests upon us while hiding under moralist excuses.

          As for Wikipedia, I agree there is definitely bias against Islam originating from many editors. However, bias from the other side is also present. Some of the people you defend obviously game the encyclopedia, using whatever sort of policy to suspiciously remove only the things that can be interpreted as anti-Islam. This does not strike you as odd? I find it unlikely these people write under good faith, and firmly believe if the situation were reversed, they would be revealed as right-wing. I have heard many white leftists claim to defend equality, but in practice defend the minority no matter how hypocritical the situation gets. That’s why most Chinese assume directly that there is a deeper, more emotional reason for this sort of behavior.

          I have not come to insult your beliefs. Being a minority in real life, I have been the victim of racism and often expound the same beliefs you do for the sake of ethnic interest, just not in my native country. Therefore I must ask, are you yourself a minority in some way? A mixed heritage, a religious minority, sexual minority, minority relatives, anything? If so, then I understand your position. If not, then for the sake of my country’s future, I must ask, what drives any self respecting member of the dominant majority to bend so far backwards for outsiders? To put their morals before themselves?

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