Egypt: Islamic holy book doesn’t support genital mutilation- Mufti

Egypt: Islamic holy book doesn’t support genital mutilation- Mufti

Thu. July 05, 2007 10:57 am.- By Bonny Apunyu. –

(SomaliNet) Egypt’s state-appointed Grand Mufti, who last week declared female genital cutting as banned in Islam, defended his decision by likening the practice to an ancient custom once wrongly seen as necessary for good health.

Genital cutting of girls, often referred to as female genital mutilation or circumcision, is banned in Egypt although the practice remains widespread as a rite of passage for girls and is often viewed as a way to protect their chastity or maintain cleanliness.

Mufti Ali Gomaa said supporters of female genital cutting, including clerics and doctors, have justified the operation on the grounds of religion and health.

But he described the reasons given to support the practice as “illusions”, saying it is not supported by the Qur’an or Islamic law and that it is only mentioned in certain sayings of the Prophet Mohammad that he described as religiously “weak”.

“So I say with the utmost degree of clarity and with the utmost degree of delineation that this custom is harmful and it is forbidden,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Gomaa said that modern medicine had found female genital cutting to be harmful and compared it to a practice, now extremely rare in Egypt, of making incisions on the temples to relieve blood pressure in the brain.

“This is what ancient medicine was like,” he said. “Now with the development of medicine … the environment has changed.”

“Now we’ve come to depend on and refer to pharmacology and chemistry.”

Last week the Egyptian government strengthened its ban on female cutting by eliminating a legal loophole allowing girls to undergo the procedure for health reasons. The decision came after an 11-year-old girl died while undergoing the procedure at a private medical clinic in the southern province of Minya.

The practice involves cutting off all or part of the clitoris and other female genitalia, sometimes by a doctor but also often by a relative or midwives. Side effects include hemorrhage, shock, and sexual dysfunction.

It is performed on both Muslim and Christian girls in Egypt and Sudan, but is extremely rare in the rest of the Arab world. It is also common in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.

A 2005 UNICEF report said that 97 percent of Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 had been circumcised, but Gomaa was optimistic that the designation of the practice as forbidden and the spread of this message through media would help to curb the tradition.

“It’s just like what happened with the practice of smoking. The Islamic scholars didn’t see… that it was dangerous,” he said. “Now the sheikh of al-Azhar said smoking is forbidden.”-Reuters




Egypt to Ban Female Circumcision, Female Genital Mutilation


June 30, 2007 03:42 PM

By Alexandra Sophie Jerome

CAIRO, 27 June 2007, (

In the Upper Egyptian town ofMinya, 12 year-old Bedur Ahmed Shaker is the latest victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She was, unfortunately, one of the little girls who did not survive. Her mother paid 50.00 EGP (approximately $8.75 USD) for Bedur?s clitoris to be completely removed by a doctor in the impoverished city south ofCairo. But the little one did not survive the trip to the hospital and emergency care could not revive her. Her mother blamed the doctor and the anesthetic for her daughter?s death as opposed to the operation itself, a crude remainder of pre-monotheistic tradition inEgypt.

In 1997, FGM/Female Circumcision was outlawed inEgypt, except under ?exceptional circumstances.? What those ?exceptional circumstances? might be, no one seems to know. There doesn?t seem to be any legitimate reason for female circumcision other than the needle being stuck in the record of tradition.

In 2000, the Egyptian government carried-out a survey of Egyptian women in a study of female circumcision in the North African nation. The study found that 97% of all Egyptian women had been circumcised to some extent, whether it was the complete or partial removal of the clitoris and labia is not specified. It should be noted that this statistic includes both Muslim and Christian women.

Despite the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Papal body of the Coptic community denouncing the practice, the tradition continues in unregulated clinics and is regularly performed by midwives using primitive tools like tin can lids, broken glass, and surgical scissors that resemble toenail scissors, in rural villages and city slums. Up until 1997, a girl could be taken to the hospital to have the procedure done by a trained medical doctor, despite being more taboo amongst the upper classes.

The question now becomes: how will Egyptian authorities regulate the practice? In the case of little Bedur, both her mother and the doctor have been arrested for attempting the procedure, but only because she died. In a society where male/female roles are rigidly defined by centuries of tradition and religious mores, the regulation of such practices will prove difficult. So long as there is a midwife in the village, someone will have to watch her. So long as there is a mother with an uncircumcised daughter, someone will also have to watch her. So long as there are women, someone will have to guard them.


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