Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, February 12, 2007

Breaking the silence on female circumcision in the Muslim world

In an op-ed in today’s Baltimore Sun, Thomas von der Osten-Sacken and Thomas Uwer of the German NGO, WADI, urged western governments and the international human rights community to take a stand against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). The writers argue that more must be done to raise awareness on FGM and at the same time put pressure on regional authorities to recognize this problem.

In FGM, the clitoris – considered a dirty organ – is cut in order to curb sexual desire and preserve “honor” before marriage. Many girls die of bleeding after being mutilated, and others are traumatized and suffer adverse health effects. FGM also increases the risks of problems during childbirth.

Recent information from Iraqi Kurdistan shows that almost 60 percent of Kurdish women had undergone this deplorable procedure - highlighting the fact that FGM is more than just an African phenomenon. Silence on this issue in the Middle East does not mean that problem is nonexistent. Instead, it is reflective of the insufficient freedoms afforded to feminists and independent civil society to raise the issue.

Most women, when asked, justify FGM by tradition and religion. A large concern is that many rural mullahs make women believe that Islam obliges them to undergo the procedure. Islamic scholars in general on divided on the issue, with some saying no obligatory rules exist, while others refer to the mention of female circumcision in religious texts.

For full article, click here.


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