Has Islam played a role in the practice of Female Genital Mutilation? Female Genital Mutilation commonly known as FGM, which is a “procedure(s) that involve(s) partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” (WHO 2013) Commonly practiced throughout Central Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, FGM has affected over 140 million females today (WHO 2013.) There are essentially four types of this circumcision, which include: clitoridectomy “partial or total removal of the clitoris”, excision, “partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora with or without excision of the labia majo…
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pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area” (WHO 2013). Traditional circumcisioners who have no medical knowledge mostly perform this procedure and the instruments used for the circumcision include unsterilized knives, razors, scalpels, and pieces of broken glass among many other tools. This paper would argue that the practice of FGM is mainly a product of social, cultural, physical and psychological constructs, rather than a religious obligation or Islamic perspective. Religious Claims Religion is considered as one of the major elements in keeping Female Genital Mutilation practices alive. Islam, as a widespread religion, is said to be the leader for promoting this practice. The proponents believe that it helps in maintaining the shariah of abstaining from non-Islamic practices by women. Women in Islam are to abide by the shariah rules on interactions, sexual relationships and contact with male counterparts. The proponents believe that having the Female Genital Mutilation done, female will not consent to have such relationships with men and will be less likely to commit a sin in Islamic law. They have a strong opinion on confining women as they believe is guided by Islamic teachings. However, research shows that Muslims are led by the rules prescribed in the Holy book Quran (Koran). Research shows that Quran (Koran) does not specify the practice for females but it, rather, is identified a healthy practice for male counterparts of Muslim society. The well-known and reverend Scholar of Islam, Ghazali further elaborates on the topic with the statement that “Circumcision is Sunna for men and only makruma for girls”. Sunnah represent the practices of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which should be followed, whereas, makruma is not a legitimate principle or command to be followed by Muslims. The absence of principles regarding this practice in Quran (Koran) is a further confirmation of this mythical ideology being associated with religion. The proponents reveal that “Female scission is an Islamic practice mentioned in the tradition of the Prophet”, however the tradition never was meant for females but rather was carried out for the males only. Relating and applying these rules on women was entirely an overwhelmingly extremist opinion on practicing Islamic laws. Sociological Claims Since the claims on Islamic or religious viability of the concepts are refuted, one may clearly identify social concerns and traditions to be the main cause of such practices prevalent in any society. Indeed, these practices provide a rather strong indication of a girl being ready to move from one phase of life to the other. The practice is performed on girls aged between 12 and 14. Usually it is performed on girls before their menstrual cycle begins and they marry. The practice is a social activity to identify the female’s status and making them move onto the next stage of their lives. The case of Badawi is a self-explanatory evidence of violation of human rights and women in specific. She was locked
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Is Religion Bad for Women's Development and the Pursuit of Gender Equality? Historically, religion was seen as counterproductive to development primarily because religious leaders tended to defend traditional moral standards, romanticize poverty and condemn materialism and wealth.
According to the World Health Organization, there are four main types of female genitalia mutilation namely the clitoridectomy, excision, infibulation and other procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes (2012, par 5). The clitoridectomy is the “partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris)” (WHO, 2012, par 5).
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