A debate held by a Palestinian radio station has revisited the issue of female mutilation, with interviewed parents saying they prefer to perform hysterectomies on mentally ill girls in order to prevent them from becoming impregnated.
But the procedure is known to be performed in order to allay fears of embarrassment by a similarly ill offspring, and has been sanctioned to this end by both Sharia and the Palestinian Authority.
"We can't follow the girls around 24 hours a day, and we worry that they will be sexually assaulted, so we prefer to cut out their wombs," one parent told a radio station belonging to the Ma'an news agency.
The station held a debate on the matter over the past few days, uncovering a phenomenon not uncommon in the West Bank.
Parents who were interviewed anonymously cited protecting their daughters from rape as the reason behind the procedure, and the mufti of Nablus issued a decree approving hysterectomies "if they can put an end to a mental condition or social problem".
A gynecologist interviewed by the radio stressed that the procedure prevents pregnancy but not sexual desire.
The debate also concluded that Palestinian law does not prevent hysterectomies from being carried out on mentally ill girls, despite prohibiting the severing of body parts from any person's body without that person's consent.
Female Palestinian MP Dr. Sahar Al Qawasmi agreed that there is a legal problem, and said a hysterectomy does nothing to defend the girl but rather serves only to protect her family from the shame and embarrassment incurred in Muslim society by a mentally ill family member.
"If our will is to protect the disabled or mentally ill, we must worsen the punishment against those who would attack her," Dr. Qawasmi said.
"If we must cut out the girl's womb, why do we not chop off body parts from disabled boys? The hysterectomy makes her the victim of a rape as well as of punishment, and the lack of punishment for her assailant."