Sunday, 29 September 2013

26 Female Genital Mutilation

Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah:
A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her: Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 5251)

In another famous Hadith, Abu Musa told how Aisha related the following to him:
The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: When anyone sits amidst four parts (of the woman) and the circumcised parts touch each other a bath becomes obligatory. (Sahih Muslim, Book 003, Number 0684)

Various hadith define legal intercourse (for purity purposes) as occurring when the circumcised parts cross or touch each other. i.e. Circumcision of both men and women is presupposed.[1]

From Wikipedia:
FGM is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."

FGM is typically carried out on girls from a few days old to puberty. It may take place in a hospital, but is usually performed, without anaesthesia, by a traditional circumciser using a knife, razor, or scissors. According to the WHO, it is practiced in 28 countries in western, eastern, and north-eastern Africa, in parts of the Middle East, and within some immigrant communities in Europe, North America, and Australasia.

 The WHO estimates that 100–140 million women and girls around the world have experienced the procedure, including 92 million in Africa. The practice is carried out by some communities who believe it reduces a woman's libido.

The WHO has offered four classifications of FGM. The main three are Type I, removal of the clitoral hood, almost invariably accompanied by removal of the clitoris itself (clitoridectomy); Type II, removal of the clitoris and inner labia; and Type III (infibulation), removal of all or part of the inner and outer labia, and usually the clitoris, and the fusion of the wound, leaving a small hole for the passage of urine and menstrual blood—the fused wound is opened for intercourse and childbirth. [Authors note: often, a twig is inserted into the vagina and the girls legs are tied together for around 2 weeks until the wound heals. The twig is then removed leaving a small hole]

Around 85 percent of women who undergo FGM experience Types I and II, and 15 percent Type III, though Type III is the most common procedure in several countries, including Sudan, Somalia, and Djibouti, Several miscellaneous acts are categorized as Type IV. 

These range from a symbolic pricking or piercing of the clitoris or labia, to cauterization of the clitoris, cutting into the vagina to widen it (gishiri cutting), and introducing corrosive substances to tighten it.

Opposition to FGM focuses on human rights violations, lack of informed consent, and health risks, which include fatal hemorrhaging, epidermoid cysts, recurrent urinary and vaginal infections.

Author’s Comments:
You Tube used to host some graphic videos of people performing this procedure on little girls. I had thought to include some links but was unable to do much research. I watched a part of one such video with a young girl of around my daughter’s age being held down by relatives whilst the “health professional” sliced at her genitals.

 I only managed to watch for a few seconds before I had to turn it off. I will never forget the horror of that little girl screaming as she tried desperately to free herself. It is apparently not uncommon for these little girls to suffer broken bones as the adults try desperately to restrain them. 

Sometimes the struggles lead to botched cutting with serious consequences. Some victims face a lifetime of agonizing pain, even when things don’t go wrong. Feel free to do your own research on this but I warn you, you will need a very strong stomach and it may change your view of humanity.

From the evidence of the hadith, it seems clear that FGM was practiced in Arabia in Mohammed’s day; it was not an Islamic invention. It is also true that many Muslims today do not practice it. Fortunately for many Muslim girls, the main hadith supporting this practice does not come from one of the two “Sahih” (authentic) hadith of Bukhari or Muslim.

 Instead they come from the hadith of Abu Dawud. Although this is one of the four collections which are still considered reliable, there is some doubt. This is reflected in the different interpretations by the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

Sunni Islam accounts for 90% of Muslims and has four main groups. These are Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanbali and Hanafi. FGM is recommended by the Hanafi, it is Sunna or highly recommended by the Malikis and Hanbalis and obligatory for Shafi’is[2]

As you would expect, in countries where Shafi’i Islam is practiced, FGM is very common. Egypt and Indonesia are both Shafi’i and have a high instance of FGM. Egypt’s new Islamist friendly Government is now looking at decriminalising this practice. In reality it probably won’t make much difference. Around 97% of Egyptian women are circumcised, whilst Christians make up around 3% of the population.

Sadly, this practice is no longer confined to Third World or Islamic countries. A recent article in Melbourne’s Herald Sun [3] reported that 600 women were treated last year for the effects of FGM, in one hospital in Melbourne (Australia). 

That is one hospital in one city in one year. This pattern is probably being repeated in other Western nations with Muslim populations. The article quotes health professionals, who suspect people are taking their daughters out of the country to have this procedure performed, or are even doing it in Australia.

Famous women’s rights activist Germaine Greer recently weighed in on the debate. On a TV panel show she expressed the opinion that FGM is “a legitimate facet of cultural identity”. She also insisted it had absolutely nothing to do with religion and implied that we shouldn’t judge these people too harshly. 

Her reason was that Western women are mutilating themselves with tattoos and piercings[4].
This argument completely misses the point that mutilating your own body is a personal decision, but to forcibly mutilate the body of another person, particularly a defenceless child, is both legally and morally wrong.

 This would have to be one of the most appalling examples of Cultural Relativism ever. The fact that it comes from a women’s rights activist leaves me in a state of disbelief.

When the cover up of widespread child abuse was discovered in the Catholic Church there was, quite rightly, an outpouring of anger and disgust by the whole population. Newspapers and TV news journalists fell over each other to publish details and calls for action were everywhere.

Why then this eerie silence or mealy mouthed apologies from the press and self-appointed opinion formers? Where is the outrage at this heinous crime? Why don’t our politicians address it? Why is no one being prosecuted? Why don’t these innocent little girls deserve our protection? These are the helpless victims of the poisonous doctrine known as Political Correctness.

[1] (From
[2] Reliance of the Traveller (Islam’s most revered Sharia Law manual)
[3] Herald Sun 05/09/2012

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