Muslim countries where it is practiced, FC is often justified
by a controversial saying attributed to the Prophet Mohammed.
The Sunnah (the words and actions of the Prophet Mohammed)
contains a reference to female circumcision. According to the
Muslim Women's League: "Those who advocate for FGM from
an Islamic perspective commonly quote the following hadith
to argue that it is required as part of the Sunnah
or Tradition of the Prophet:
The Prophet (pbuh) said to her: Do not cut too severely as that
is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband."
This passage is regarded by many Muslims as having little credibility
or authenticity. According to Sayyid Sabiq, renowned scholar
and author of Fiqh-us-Sunnah, all hadiths
concerning female circumcision are non-authentic.
Many Muslims see passages in the Qur'an which, by implication,
oppose FGM. They reason: God apparently created the clitoris
for the sole purpose of generating pleasure. It has no other
purpose. There is no instruction in the Qur'an or in the writings
of the Prophet Mohammed which require that the clitoris be surgically
modified. Thus God must approve of its presence. And so, it
should not be removed or reduced in size or function.
Qur'an promotes the concept of a husband and wife giving each
other pleasure during sexual intercourse. "It is lawful
for you to go in unto your wives during the night preceding
the (day's) fast: they are as a garment for you and you are
as a garment for them." (2:187) ". . . and He has
put love and mercy between you." (30:21)
in The Qur'an (An-Nisa': 119) states that Satan will try to
trick humans into body modification: "And I will surely
lead them astray, and arouse desires in them, and command them
and they will cut the cattle's ears, and I will surely command
them and they will change Allah's creation." This might
be interpreted as forbidding FGM as well as tattoos, piercing
and any other modification that alters the design of the human
body as Allah created it.
Nawal El-Saadawi, a Muslim victim of infibulation (partial closing/stitching
of the vagina), says, "The importance given to virginity
and an intact hymen in these societies is the reason why female
circumcision still remains a very widespread practice despite
a growing tendency, especially in urban Egypt, to do away with
it as something outdated and harmful. Behind circumcision lies
the belief that, by removing parts of girls' external genitals
organs, sexual desire is minimized. This permits a female who
has reached the dangerous age of puberty and adolescence to
protect her virginity, and therefore her honor, with greater
ease. Chastity was imposed on male attendants in the female
harem by castration which turned them into inoffensive eunuchs.
Similarly female circumcision is meant to preserve the chastity
of young girls by reducing their desire for sexual intercourse."
Sayyed Tantawi, head of the al-Azhar Islamic Institute has stated
that the practice is un-Islamic. The Health Minister of Egypt,
Ismail Sallam, announced the ban on FGM in 1996. This was upheld
by a junior administrative court in Cairo.
Youssef Badri, a Muslim fundamentalist, took the health minister
to court. In 1997, an Egyptian court overturned the country's
ban on FGM. Eight Muslim scholars and doctors had testified
that the ban exceeded the government's authority and violated
the legal rights of the medical profession. Sheik Youssef Badri
commented: "[Female] circumcision is Islamic; the court
has said that the ban violated religious law. There's nothing
which says circumcision is a crime, but the Egyptians came along
and said that Islam is a crime." The German newsmagazine
Der Spiegel interviewed Sheik Badri. He claimed that
many Muslim women are pleased with this victory of Islam over
its enemies. When it was pointed out to him that parents in
Morocco and Algeria do not practice FGM, he replied that the
clitoris in Egyptian girls was larger than in those countries
and had to be cut back to a normal size. He quoted a French
study which showed that circumcised girls are less likely to
contract AIDS. He believes that the United States is spreading
misinformation on the health risks of FGM.
government appealed the case to Egypt's Supreme Administrative
Court. They ruled that the operation is not required by Islam,
and that "female circumcision is not a personal right according
to the rules of Islamic Sharia (law)." Thus, FGM is subject
to Egyptian law. They prohibited the procedure, even if it is
done with the agreement of the child and her parents.
United Nations has supported the right of member states to grant
refugee status to women who fear being mutilated if they are
returned to their country of origin. Canada has granted such
status to women in this situation.
1994, CNN broadcast footage of the circumcision of a 10 year
old Egyptian girl by an unskilled practitioner. This program
drew international attention to the operation. A 500 million
dollar lawsuit was brought against CNN for allegedly damaging
Egypt's reputation, It was rejected by the courts.
the West, the procedure is outlawed in Britain, Canada, France,
Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. A US federal bill,
Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation, was passed
in 1996. Section 273.3 of the Canadian Criminal Code protects
children who reside in Canada (as citizens or landed migrants)
from being removed from their country and subjected to FGM.
against FGM can be counter-productive when it forces the practice
underground. Women, who have been informally operated on and
in need of medical attention, might not seek help because of
1989, the Regional Committee of the WHO for Africa passed a
resolution urging participating governments "to adopt appropriate
policies and strategies in order to eradicate female circumcision"
and "to forbid medicalization of female circumcision and
to discourage health professionals from performing such surgery."
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is ambiguous about
FGM. On one hand, Article 24, paragraph 3 states: "States
Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with
a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the
health of children." But Article 29 paragraph 1.c calls
for: "The development of respect for the child's parents,
his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the
national values of the country in which the child is living,
the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations
different from his or her own."
the August 1st issue, filmmaker
Erica Pomerance (Dable!
Excision) takes us into the heart and control of female
Gender-based Income Redistribution with Honour and Dignity
Abored the Porn Express
Traders in the Material World
Divas, Pantydom and 3-Chord Ditties
Triumph of the Pornographic Imagination
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