Twitter has faced a backlash after adverts advocating female genital mutilation on children were viewed more than 30,000 times after being promoted on the website.
A Muslim group calling itself Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom posted a tweet last week justifying ‘khafz’ – or female circumcision – on young girls.
The tweet featured a video of group member Arwa Sohangpurwala saying: ‘My daughters have also undergone khafz, and they’re growing up as perfectly as other children of their age. As a mother, I can never do anything to harm them.’
But because the group paid for the tweet to be ‘promoted’, it showed up on the timelines of users who didn’t even follow the Dawoodi Bohra account.
Twitter users were quick to slam the advert. Esmael Omar tweeted: ‘Speak for yourself, woman. Don’t speak on behalf of innocent girls.
‘FGM is FGM no matter how you want sugar coat it. Leave alone cutting – even touching the female genitalia of a girl is still child abuse. Twitter must explain why they sponsored such a message.’
Paul Hart added: ‘Did you ask your daughters beforehand or did YOU make the decision to mutilate their genitals for them? Sick.’
Ingrid Srinath said: ‘Sorry, what?! Twitter is carrying an ad for female genital mutilation?’
Mariya Taher added: ‘I’m wondering how Twitter can say that an ad promoting female genital cutting/mutilation doesn’t violate community standards?’
Twitter has since removed the promoted post but taken no action on the original tweet, which is still visible.
A Twitter spokesman said: ‘This was a promoted tweet and was removed for violation of our policies.’
The Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom group – a branch of the Shi’ite Muslim community – promotes female circumcision and claims that it has been ‘wrongly classified as female genital mutilation’.
It also claims the procedure involves ‘removal of a speck of superficial skin, a simple gentle process in which there is negligible, if any, pain’.
However, the World Health Organization still classifies the smallest form of removal as type 1 FGM.
Unicef estimates that more than 200million women have undergone FGM procedures worldwide.
Twitter previously blocked adverts from pro-life group Live Action, describing them as ‘inflammatory or provocative’.
The DBWRF group says it is ‘dedicated towards conserving and guarding the cultural and religious rights of Dawoodi Bohra women’, a sect in Shia Islam.
The organisation was formed in May 2017 and is said to represent tens of thousands of women who ‘strongly believe in preserving their religious and cultural heritage’.
It adds: ‘DBWRF advocates for the rights of Dawoodi Bohra women in India to ensure that Dawoodi Bohra women in India live with dignity and honour and are able to exercise their religious and cultural rights, including their right to practise khafz.’