The elephant in the room here is the role of Islamic jurisprudence in perpetuating the practice:
“Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna [commendable according to the word or example of Muhammad, but not obligatory], while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.” – Umdat al-Salik e4.3.
The Shafi’i school of jurisprudence, which is present or dominant in many of the countries mentioned below, holds it to be obligatory.
As this report notes, the girls’ risk is heightened by the fear of addressing the subject over the possibility of being branded a “racist,” but the cruelly ironic result is a racist double standard: if there were not cultural “sensitivities” clouding the issue, the practice would be eradicated “yesterday,” as it ought to be.
More than three thousand London girls are at risk of genital mutilation every year, experts warned today.
The report by black and ethnic minority women’s organisation Imkaan found that in the city 3,500 baby girls are born every year to mothers who have suffered female genital mutilation, and therefore are at risk themselves. This is an increase of 65 per cent in 10 years.
Imkaan is calling for all school teachers to be trained to help girls who are facing violence and is calling on David Cameron to tackle the issue.
Marai Larasi, director of Imkaan, said: “It is not acceptable that in 2011 many girls and women living in Britain face extreme, violent threats to their safety and even to their lives. These issues are neglected because of fears of being labelled at best culturally insensitive and at worst racist.
“There would be outrage and a national scandal if this were happening to little white girls. Every girl should be protected, no matter her background.”
The report’s authors said girls from African families, as well as Afghan, Turkish, South Asian, Kurdish, Arab and Irish traveller families are among those who could be at risk, and stressed that education for health professionals is needed to tackle “a dangerous postcode lottery of support services for girls and women should they try to find help”.
The report also noted that hundreds of women could fall victim to forced marriage every year. The Forced Marriage Unit dealt with 330 cases of women and girls at risk of forced marriage in London last year.