Statement BPE On The Problem Of Female Genital Mutilation

By • on October 1, 2013

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The following statement can also be found on the OSCE website.

Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa (BPE)

Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa (BPE)


OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Working Session 3

Tolerance and Non-Discrimination

Prevention of Violence against women and children

Warsaw, September 24, 2013

Recognizing the Problem: Female Genital Mutilation Permitted in Teachings of Islam

Arguably, the most severe form of violence against women and children is female genital mutilation.

The Annotated Agenda notes on page 8 that

participating States have a duty to prevent, investigate, and punish the perpetrators of such violence [against women and children], as well as to protect victims, especially women and children […].

It is therefore especially troubling that reports of rising numbers of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the OSCE region.

These reports mention 30 million girls worldwide are at risk of being subjected to FGM in the next decade. According to a report (1), FGM remains almost universal in Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Egypt and there is little discernible decline in Chad, Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Sudan or Yemen. While these countries are not participating States, it is obvious that they are predominantly Muslim countries. Western news articles about female genital mutilation routinely assert that it is solely a cultural practice, not justified by any religion. Yet again and again we see Muslim imams (2) justifying it, and it is sanctioned in Islamic law (3)

United States:

More and more girls in the United States are at risk of being “cut” in order to be marriageable. The risk runs especially high in immigrant families from Africa and the Middle East. “[A] study cited analysis of data from the 2000 census that found between 1990 and 2000 the number of girls and women in the United States at risk of the procedure – which involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia – increased by 35 percent. […] The United States has had a law in place against FGM since 1996 and 20 states have passed their own statutes. But, according to the report, as of 2012, there have been no prosecutions under federal law, and only one criminal case has been brought forward under a state statute.”(4)

United Kingdom:

Even though it is illegal in Great Britain, and as many as 66,000 girls have been subjected to this barbarity there, the British have never managed to prosecute anyone for it. There are indications of 1,500 new cases of FGM in one hospital alone. Staff are fearful of getting involved [in preventing the practice] because they see the practice as a cultural issue rather than abuse. This despite FGM being a crime since 1985.(5)

Reports(6) of a [Somali] dental practitioner being “struck off by the General Dental Council for offering the illegal procedure in more than a decade provide evidence that there are indeed doctors willing to perform FGM in Great Britain


Reports show that more than 8,000 girls were subjected to the practice of FGM in 2010 despite penalties up to five years prison time.(7)

Recommendation to participating States:

Violence against women and children can only be combatted if the problem is recognized. This recognition is especially important with respect to the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation.

  • We recommend that participating States recognize that FGM is not a cultural practice, but a religious one as it is endorsed by many Islamic clerics and scholars due to its justification in Islamic law.
  • Endorsement, performance and support of FGM must be reported to the authorities and prosecuted.
  • Legal penalties for FGM should be raised.
  • Educational awareness programs in health education should be introduced.
  • As for best practices, it is deplorable that none exist yet.




(3) “The definition under Islamic law for female circumcision is exclusively the removal of the uppermost extra skin at the top of the clitoral glans.” (Australian Iman, see footnote 2) “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





  • Holger Postulart

    As much as we endorse efforts to end FGM, we see the recommendation to recognize FGM as religious and not a cultural practice as rather counter-productive if not dangerous. NGOs and international organizations are struggling since decades to end the widespread opinion that FGM is an Islamic or religious issue. The fact that Muslim communities practice FGM does not make it a religious practice.

    Your statement gives one defending source only, and you fail to clarify that the Australian Imam is an opponent to “female genital mutilation” which he distinguishes from his personal definition of “female circumcision”. Thorough research will lead to many statements from Imams and Muslim scholars that oppose FGM as a “non Islam tradition”. Muslims speak out against FGM just as much as anybody else. The former head of al-Azhar, Shaikh Tantawi, and 34 Mauritanian scholars who did so are just two examples among many.

    In recognizing FGM as a religious practice, you will undermine all these positive efforts and give even more power to the defending scholars.
    We say “yes” to the reinforcement of laws; to the passing of laws where they do not exist; to educational and awareness raising programs.
    We protest against the recommendation to recognize FGM as a “religious practice” which would also be in opposition to the UN resolution adopted in December 2012 and signed by all member states including those who are OSCE members.

    Holger Postulart
    Executive director
    Global Alliance against Female Genital Mutilation

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  • Aeneas

    Some urls that relate to the issues raised:
    Islamic Law on Female Circumcision
    Qur’an, Hadith and Scholars:Female Genital Mutilation,_Hadith_and_Scholars:Female_Genital_Mutilation
    AMJA Senior Committee Member: Female Genital Mutilation Is ‘an Honor’ per Islam

    Islamic leaders really need to issue a ban against FGM so that their opposition, and the opposition of Islam itself, to FGM can be made crystal clear. Similarly leaders of other religions should issue similar statements to make clear that FGM is not sanctioned by any religion.

    What is needed is legislation that imposes heavy penalties on anyone who facilitates or knows about FGM procedures being conducted, and fails to report it (i.e. not just penalties against those performing the procedure).

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