The sixth of February each year is celebrated as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as part of the United Nations campaign to effectively educate people about the horrific consequences of FGM and to end genital mutilation of women and girls around the world.
This day also highlights the importance of providing a platform for speaking against this horrendous practice and to encourage women to speak up and to seek help to counter this challenge if they come across to it.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), FGM ‘comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’.
According to a conference held recently in Malta, between 39% and 57% of migrant women living in Malta are at risk of female genital mutilation. These are very shocking figures, despite the fact that this procedure is illegal in Malta. This shows that people are not very well aware of these laws, so there is a crucial need of providing sufficient knowledge and awareness. Moreover, it is estimated that around 180,000 women are at risk of FGM in Europe.
According to the WHO, there are no known health benefits of this practice; it is very painful and harmful practice. Such ‘procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths’.
It is thought that the practice is more than 2000 years old, but erroneously some associate it with the religion of Islam. As far as Islam is concerned, there is no concept of female circumcision in Islam. This ancient barbaric practice is cultural in its origins and has absolutely no link to Islamic teachings, because this practice existed for centuries before the advent of Islam.
The truth is that, FGM is not even mentioned in the Holy Quran and also not by the Prophet Muhammad. The Holy Quran does not instruct women to be circumcised. Moreover, there is not a single example found of this practice in the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s family.
So, how it could be labeled as an Islamic practice?
In fact, Islam laid down principles of loving and caring treatment of women. Prophet Muhammad insisted that women should always be treated with kindness and consideration. He often used to say that if a man had daughters and he arranged to have them educated and took pains with their upbringing, God would save him from the torment of Hell. Regarding women as wives, he said that: “Remember, you must always treat your wives well.”
The question is why this practice is continued till today? I think, ignorance, lack of understanding, lack of awareness, social or cultural pressures appear to be some of the reasons why this inhumane crime continues till today.
It is highly recommended that governments and communities should work hard to provide sufficient understanding and awareness about FGM to all the people, men and women, so this harmful practice is completely uprooted from the world. In addition, strict laws should be made and equally enforced. Religious leaders should also play their role in educating their people.
As far as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is concerned, it proactively plays its role to raise awareness about this issue, including many others. It has also published an article in its monthly magazine ‘Id-Dawl’ (www.ahmadiyya.mt/id-dawl) to educate people about FGM.
Furthermore, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community advocates for the equality, education, and empowerment of women. The community has always condemned the barbaric practice of FGM; and it is actively raising awareness that FGM is not an Islamic practice at all. It is committed to work with other communities to uproot this practice decisively; and it stands united around the world conveying a key message of ‘Zero Tolerance for FGM’.