Female genital mutilation

 

Sir, – Your edition of February 10th) carried a a letter from a number of campaigners, and a medical expert, on female genital mutilation, which is considered abhorrent throughout most of the world and by all independent expert opinion that we are aware of. Prime Time became aware on Thursday evening that Dr Ali Selim of the Clonskeagh mosque had expressed the view in the Medical Independent that what he insisted on calling female circumcision “cannot be banned, but reasonably practised”. Prime Time immediately sought an interview with Dr Selim on this subject, to which he readily agreed. The letter stated that this interview did not allow Dr Selim’s views “to be directly challenged by experts who oppose FGM and, as such, were unbalanced and potentially misleading”. Directly challenging the views of guests, however unpalatable, is part of the core function of Prime Time. We do not believe that any reasonable viewer could have come to the conclusion that our item in relation to FGM was “unbalanced”. The comments of Prof Fitzpatrick in the Medical Independent stating that there were no health benefits to this barbaric practice, “just misery, suffering and ill-health” were put to Dr Selim, the absolute condemnation of the World Health Organisation of this practice was also put to him, his claim that there could be “medical reasons” for such a practice was interrogated, and he was questioned closely on whether the truth was that he would, in fact, support people carrying out this practice for religious reasons. We feel that it is a mistake to think that balance can only be provided with two guests holding opposing views; in this case, and many others, issues are best interrogated by one-to-one interviews with our presenters. – Yours, etc,

DONOGH DIAMOND,

Editor,

Prime Time,

RTÉ, Donnybrook,

Dublin 4.