FGM – Debates about FGM in Africa, the Middle East & Far East

Linked on our blogs with Religious Tolerance.org. – Published on Religious Tolerance.org, not dated nor authored.

2006 international conference: TARGET, a German human rights group, sponsored a conference on FGM in Cairo, Egypt. Muslim scholars from many nations attended. At the conclusion of the conference on 2006-NOV-24, their  final statement declared FGM to be contrary to Islam, an attack on women, and a practice that should be criminalized:

The conference appeals to all Muslims to stop practicing this habit, according to Islam’s teachings which prohibit inflicting harm on any human being. … The conference reminds all teaching and media institutions of their role to explain to the people the harmful effects of this habit in order to eliminate it. … The conference calls on judicial institutions to issue laws that prohibit and criminalize this habit … which appeared in several societies and was adopted by some Muslims although it is not sanctioned by the Qur’an or the Sunna

According to The Age online news source:

Egypt’s two top Islamic clerics, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar, the foremost theological institute in the Sunni Muslim world, and Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, attended the conference, which drew scholars from as far afield as Russia. Tantawi’s and Gomaa’s edicts are considered binding.

Reaction by the rest of the world:

  • The 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. A judge of a Canadian Federal Court declared it a “cruel and barbaric practice.”
  • In 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.
  • In the West, the procedure is outlawed in Britain, Canada, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. A US federal bill, “Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation of 1995″ was passed in 1996-SEP. Section 273.3 of the Canadian Criminal Code protects children who are ordinarily resident in Canada, (as citizens or landed migrants) from being removed from the country and subjected to FGM. In the US and Canada, the very small percentage of immigrants who wish to continue the practice often find it impossible to find a doctor who will cooperate. The operation is often done in the home by the family.
  • Legislation against FGM can be counter-productive in some cases. It might force the practice deeply underground. Women may not seek medical care because their parents might be charged.

UN activity: … //

… Bans on FGM:

  • During 2007, FGM was banned in Eritrea. The Egyptian Health Ministry is seeking a law banning FGM in that country. That would leave Somolia, which lacks a central government, and Sudan as the two main countries where the practice will remain legal … (full long text).


Circumcision death toll continues, on ICGI, December 18, 2010: The summer circumcision season death toll in the Eastern Cape, Africa has risen to 14, says the provincial health department. Every year, dozens of youths die in the Eastern Cape after undergoing traditional circumcision by elders … ;

Sexual & reproductive health & rights, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation: Sexual and reproductive health and female genital mutilation working group;

… Pour plus d’infos: UNFPA.org, UNIFEM, International Centre for Reproductive Health (Université de Gand.be).

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