Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Female Genital Mutilation: An Islamic Or "Cultural" Practice? (Introduction)

It has been revealed today that new cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Birmingham have increased by nearly a third, according to new figures.

The number of incidents increased from 52 between October and December 2015 to 67 from January to March this year – a 28 per cent rise. The statistics were released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

In total 1,242 newly recorded cases of FGM were reported across the country in the same time period. Back in February, it was revealed that more than two cases of female genital mutilation were being reported in Birmingham and the West Midlands every day.

According to the 2011 census, Birmingham is over 20% Muslim. Does this have any bearing on the alarming figures reported today? Aside from a handful of blinkered cultural relativists, most people appear to agree that FGM is medically unnecessary, misogynistic, and barbaric. Reacting to today's news, an NSPCC spokesman said:

There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM. It doesn’t enhance fertility and it doesn’t make childbirth safer. It is used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health. FGM or female circumcision is usually carried out for religious, cultural or social reasons. But let’s be clear – it is child abuse and it causes long-lasting physical and emotional damage. The practice must stop.

And yet despite the prevalence of this practice throughout the Islamic world, there have been persistent attempts to claim that it has nothing to do with Islam at all, and is merely a “cultural” practice that carries no sanction in the Qur’an and hadith.

A forthcoming series of posts here at Eye On Islam will explore this issue in depth, establishing whether or not Islam encourages FGM, and the extent to which it is practised in Muslim communities around the world. The first part will be published tomorrow, and will examine whether FGM is really just an "African problem", as characterised by the likes of Islamic apologist Reza Aslan.

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