The case of asylum seeker Pamela Izevbekhai who lost her appeal against deportation to Nigeria in the High Court last week was given a reprieve when the European Court of Human Rights intervened, delaying the deportation for 3 weeks, while they review the case to see whither or not the grounds for deportation were warranted. The reason Pamela came to Ireland in 2004 with her two daughters Naomi and Jemima now aged 7 and 6 was to avoid female genital mutilation. Apparently her husband’s family observes this rite and insisted that she have the procedure carried out on her two daughters. Pamela had a daughter called Elizabeth who had this procedure carried out by a cousin when she was 18 months old in 1994. Unfortunately she died when the bleeding could not be stopped and Pamela, not wishing to risk the same fate for her two remaining daughters, with the aid of her husband, applied for asylum in Ireland. Presumably the Minister for Justice is afraid to permit one case which would set a precedent for a potential influx of similar cases from Nigeria and other countries where FGM is practiced. In fact the practice is outlawed in most countries where it is a cultural tradition but law enforcement is difficult. FGM is not mentioned in the Bible. Occasionally it is claimed that Jesus advocated mutilation when he recommended the removal of a man’s own eye if it caused him to lust after a woman. This has never been interpreted literally! Indeed the removal of both eyes would not solve that problem. What Jesus means is simply that we are to deal drastically with sin adopting measures that promote self control. The only examples of mutilation in Scripture are provided by the Prophets of Baal who when taunted by Elijah “they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed” in the vain hope that their god would answer them. The other example is Jesus’ body which was mutilated on the cross for us. As the writer to the Hebrews puts it, Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. He took our sins including the sins of cutting the flesh of children that we might follow him and not cultural tradition.