It has nothing to do with Islam, we’re endlessly told. Yet those who object to its banning so often turn out to be…Islamic scholars.
By Marwa Al-A’Sar for DPA (thanks to all who sent this in):
In an act that has sparked outrage among Egyptian women’s rights activists, a controversial Islamic scholar filed a lawsuit against the minister of health protesting against a recent ban on female circumcision, a practice referred to by rights groups as female genital mutilation (FGM).
Egyptian Sheikh Youssif al-Badri claims the ministerial decree violates the Egyptian Constitution as well as Islamic principles.
Conservative Muslim and Christian Egyptian families have their daughters circumcised as a means to preserve their chastity. Recent studies revealed that about 90% of Egyptian women have been subjected to the practice.
In June, the Health Ministry banned doctors and nurses from carrying out the procedure. The announcement followed the death of an 11-year-old girl in Upper Egypt as a result of the procedure. Medics who carry out circumcisions may face imprisonment and being stripped of their medical licences.
While al-Badri argues that the practice is necessary in curbing women’s sexual inclinations, women’s rights activists and physicians disapprove of his view.
“Many of the circumcised women who seek our help were traumatised, having no ability to lead a normal sex life, which affects their relationships with their husbands,” said Nihad Abul-Qomsan, head of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights.
She accused Muslim sheikhs in the Arab world of being distracted from the vital issues. “No one of the sheikhs coming up with such arguments has ever considered in his agenda the deteriorating socio-economic conditions we are undergoing,” she noted. “Instead they try to play the role of the Islam advocates.”
Egypt’s top Islamic and Christian authorities were quick to voice support for the ban, saying the practice had no basis either in the Qur’an or in the Bible.
“The Constitution is based on the Islamic sharia law, which does not stipulate FGM, giving a wife the right to enjoy sex with her husband,” Khalil Mustafa Khalil, who holds a master’s degree in FGM legislation, told the independent al-Badeel newspaper.