Why is this unlikely to end the practice of female genital mutilation in Sudan? Because female genital mutilation has justification in Islamic law, and Islamic law is considered divine law, superseding all human law.
This story repeats the usual establishment media line: “People in countries where FGM is still common attempt to link it to religion, but the practice has nothing to do with any faith and predates both Christianity and Islam. It has also been denounced by religious leaders worldwide.”
That is only partially true, at best.
Yes, “people in countries where FGM is still common attempt to link it to religion”: “It is a religious thing. Do you want to change religion?” said one Egyptian in response to a campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation. “You only listen to what the West is saying.”
However, the establishment media ignores the fact that actually FGM is mandated in Islamic law: “Circumcision is obligatory (for every male and female) (by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the bazr ‘clitoris’ [this is called khufaadh ‘female circumcision’]).” — Umdat al-Salik e4.3, translated by Mark Durie, The Third Choice, p. 64
Why is it obligatory? Because Muhammad is held to have said so: “Abu al- Malih ibn Usama’s father relates that the Prophet said: ‘Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.’” — Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5:75
“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.’” — Abu Dawud 41:5251
That hadith is classified as weak, but this one is classified as sahih (reliable): “Aishah narrated: ‘When the circumcised meets the circumcised, then indeed Ghusl is required. Myself and Allah’s Messenger did that, so we performed Ghusl.’” — Jami` at-Tirmidhi 108
If Muhammad had the genitals of his favorite wife, Aisha, mutilated, that is a strong endorsement of the practice from the man who is an “excellent example” (Qur’an 33:21) for Muslims.
Why does it matter whether or not FGM is Islamic? Because the practice will never be eradicated if its root causes are not confronted. As long as those Muslims continue to believe that Allah and Muhammad want it done, for some that will override all other considerations, in Sudan and everywhere else.
“Sudan criminalises female genital mutilation (FGM),” BBC, May 1, 2020:
Sudan has criminalised carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM), making it punishable by three years in jail.
Some 87% of Sudanese women aged between 14 and 49 have undergone some form of FGM, according to the UN.
In Sudan it is common for women to get the inner and outer labia, and usually the clitoris, removed.
FGM can result in urinary tract infections, uterine infections, kidney infections, cysts, reproductive issues and pain during sex.
Girls get cut because of a widespread cultural belief that it is essential for girls’ reputations and future marriage prospects.
Why has the ban happened now?
There has been a global trend towards banning the practice.
However, according to a Unicef report carried out in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, the practice is still being widely carried out, despite the fact that at least 24 of these countries have legislation or some form of decrees against FGM.
FGM was already illegal in some Sudanese states but these bans were widely ignored.
BBC Sudan analyst Mohaned Hashim notes that there have been previous attempts to ban FGM across the whole country but parliament under long-time leader Omar al-Bashir rejected the recommendations….
The FGM amendment to the criminal law was approved on 22 April, Reuters news agency reports.
Under the amendment, anyone who performs FGM either inside a medical establishment or elsewhere faces three years’ imprisonment and a fine.
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