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A rural community calls for an end to FGM - Daily News Egypt

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A rural community calls for an end to FGM

By Ignacio Artaza I recently visited the village of Beir Anbar in the district of Koft, Qena governorate, and listened to the powerful statement this community is conveying to the rest of the country to put an end to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The whole village, from young schoolchildren to village elders, …

Ignacio Artaza
Ignacio Artaza

By Ignacio Artaza

I recently visited the village of Beir Anbar in the district of Koft, Qena governorate, and listened to the powerful statement this community is conveying to the rest of the country to put an end to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The whole village, from young schoolchildren to village elders, came together to denounce FGM as “violent”, “wrong” and “harmful”.

Even today, many girls and young women are subjected to genital mutilation in the name of ‘tradition’.   According to the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey, at least 91% of Egyptian women between the ages of 15-49 have undergone genital mutilation.  The people of Beir Anbar made it clear that Egyptian girls and women deserve a new tradition – a tradition of protecting and safeguarding their rights.

But the joint efforts of families, community activists, authorities, development agencies and media are gradually making a difference to phase out this traditional harmful practice.   Let us be clear:  there is no justification – moral, religious, cultural, medical or otherwise for this practice.  ‘Cutting’ demeans, dehumanises and injures.  It is a human rights violation that must be actively opposed until it is ended.

As we gathered inside the community centre, a group of school girls came forward and delivered the following message:  “I am born perfect with my body whole. Why do you want to cut us, and take away the rights that God gave us?  What you are doing to us is a crime that takes away our childhood and our innocence.” The audience – boys, parents, teachers, and local authorities- stood up and cheered in support.

One particular case concerning FGM that has attracted much interest in Egypt over the past year is that of Soheir El-Batei.

While some facts may be disputed, this much is clear: Soheir was a 13-year-old schoolgirl.  She was a child.  And she was a victim of female genital mutilation.  She died in June last year as a result of complications caused by an illegal, medically unnecessary ‘traditional’ procedure.

On the very day I was visiting this village, the Misdemeanor Court in the district of Aga, Daqahleya governorate, dismissed the case.

Legislation outlawing female genital mutilation in Egypt has been in place for more than half a decade.   But that legislation must be strengthened to ensure that it fully protects the rights of women and girls, and to ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice.

The United Nations Development Programme has been combating FGM since 2003.  Presently, UNDP is supporting the National FGM Abandonment Programme in partnership with the National Population Council (NPC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), local authorities and civil society organisations, and is implemented thanks to the generous contributions of the European Union, and the Governments of Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany.

Ignacio Artaza is Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme in Egypt

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  • SparklingMoon

    We could not find any verse of the Holy Qur’an giving any instruction with respect to female circumcision.

    Sahih Bukhari, the most authentic book of traditions does 
    not relate any such tradition. Second to Bukhari in terms 
    authenticity is Sahih Muslim, which again does not record
     any tradition with regards to this.Indeed, of the six 
    authentic books of traditions, five do not contain any
     mention of the subject. 

    Only the sixth authentic book of traditions, ‘Sunnan Abu Dawud’ mentions the tradition, Umme ‘Atiyyah Ansariyyah relates that there was a lady in Medina who used to circumcise girls.

    The Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) said to her, ‘do not cut off
    too much, as it is a source of pleasure for the woman and
    more liked by the husband. (Abu Dawud; Kitabul-­Adab;
    Abwabun-­Naum; Babo Ma Ja’ fil-­‐Khitan; Hadith No.5271)

    At this juncture we would like to mention that Abu Dawud has a note recorded with this tradition which says,‘this 
    report is Da‘if (substandard)’.

    Similarly the account of Islamic Law offered by Abu Dawd
     states, ‘the tradition reporting female circumcision has many different versions and each of them are substandard, unsound and seriously doubtful.’ In similar vein all the accounts mentioned in this regard are regarded by scholars of traditions and asma’ur– Rijal as being mostly substandard.

    As far as the books of traditions are concerned, superiority can be assigned to Moatta Imam Malik which enjoys the distinction of being an earlier book of traditions. Its writer was a resident of Medina and when he was collecting the various accounts, of Companions of the Holy Prophetsaw were alive and present. Indeed a vast majority of the population of Medina was composed
    of Companions (ra). Yet Mo’atta Imam Malik does not record any tradition whatsoever that mentions female circumcision.

    Another important matter to consider (about this tradition) is that although reports are presented which instruct on how to do female circumcision and upon some of its attendant factors but there is no tradition in existence that reports that the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) instructed or commanded women to go and get circumcised. Even the promoters of the idea do not put any such tradition forward in support of their assertions.

    We also take into consideration the fact that the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) went into fine and extensive details when teaching the Islamic to the Muslims. Indeed this was done to such anextent as to prompt a Jew to aver (sarcastically) that the Muslims’ prophet had taught them everything, including how to wash after answering thecall of nature.

    The holy Companions (ra) also made certain that they understood Islamic law extensively. Neither women nor men lagged behind in any way in correctly understanding these issues. Issues such as menstruation, puerperal hemorrhage, post coition bathing, the prayer to be read while a husband and wife were consummating their relationship, all were explained to the Muslims. Some women even used to come and directly inquire about issues such as wet dreams. One Muslim lady went to see the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) complaining of her husband’s method of establishment of sexual relations to seek elucidation on the matter.

    The blessed Holy Prophet of Islam (sa) who was a compassionate father to them and who was an embodiment of mercy would explain such issues with extreme wisdom. Furthermore, our kind mothers—the Mothers of the believers (the wives of the Holy Prophet of Islam (sa)—would elaborate affectionately upon issues they were able to assist with.

    Is it not strange then that something as important as female circumcision, if it were indeed a source of respect for the woman should have been left out so completely? Neither the Mothers of the believers nor anyone else mentioned a single word about this important issue.

    It would be wrong to claim that it is not mentioned because it is too embarrassing or demands concealment when it was such an important commandment for half of the members of an Islamic society.

    • Minymina

      We were all born the way god intended, to alter that design is an insult.

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