“Of the four Sunni schools of sharia, it is the Shafi’is who have said that circumcision of girls is compulsory. The Reliance of the Traveller, a respected manual of Shafi’i jurisprudence, states “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 clitoris” (section e4.3).
As Indonesia is a country in which Shafi’i Islam predominates, it is hardly surprising that female circumcision is commonly practiced among Indonesian Muslims, from Java to Aceh. There is a close correlation between Shafi’i Islam and the frequency of FGM. Regions where the Shafi’i school predominates are also the places where FGM is more frequent. These include Egypt, southern Arabia, Bahrain, Kurdistan, Somalia, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. The oft-recited claim that FGM is not a religious practice is proved false, not only because it is more frequently found in Shafi’i areas, but also because it was introduced, along with Shafi’i Islam, into Southeast Asia, a part of the world where it had previously been unknown.”
Female Genital Mutilation is a federal crime in the United States, as is the transportation of people for the purpose of carrying out this barbaric, and illegal act. Furthermore, these laws have been in effect in the United States for 20 years.
Despite this, government estimates are that more than 500,00 females in this country are at risk of FGM. There is international resistance to this practice. From the UN, to Obama, and to even Muslim Brotherhood member Imam Magid, who has said
“Those who believe that FGM is a religious practice, they misunderstand the teaching of the prophet Muhammad.“
Very well, but he might want to tell that to, for example, the followers of Imam Shafi’i whose legacy is alive, and well.
If “sparking a conversation” about this is really the goal, then that conversation should directed towards the people actually doing it, not towards credulous non-Muslims.
FBI Reaching Out About Female Genital Mutilation
A report showing the number of women at risk was published in January by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the figure was much higher than previously estimated. A separate report last year by the non-profit Population Reference Bureau (PRB) determined that women and girls most at risk were concentrated in major cities like New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., where large diaspora immigrant communities have coalesced.
Female genital mutilation, also called cutting or FGM, involves partial or total removal of the external genitalia for non-medical reasons, with no discernible health benefits. Nearly one-third of the estimated 513,000 women at risk are under the age of 18, according to the CDC and PRB data.
The FBI is proactively investigating tips and leads on this illegal practice. Investigators are hoping victims and community members who are opposed to it will come forward and report cases.
Earlier this year, the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recognized the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (February 6) in a joint statement calling for eradication of the practice. The United Nations leads the zero-tolerance campaign, estimating that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.
Last July, President Barack Obama elevated the issue during a speech in Kenya. “There’s no excuse for sexual assault or domestic violence, there’s no reason that young girls should suffer genital mutilation, there’s no place in a civilized society for the early or forced marriage of children.” Obama said. “These traditions may go back centuries; they have no place in the 21st century.”
Practitioners claim they are abiding by deeply rooted beliefs and traditions. But it is more broadly seen as a human-rights violation. “It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls,” the U.N. said in a statement.
Despite being a criminal violation in the U.S., the practice continues in a variety of ways. “We believe some of it is being conducted by medical practitioners—physicians, nurses, midwives—and some by female elders within the communities who have the distinction of being what is called a cutter,” said Special Agent Kerry Sparks, who focuses on FGM cases as part of the FBI’s International Human Rights Unit (IHRU).
After legislation banning FGM in the U.S. was passed in 1996, some young women were sent on trips to their home countries to have the procedure. In 2012, Congress passed additional legislation, the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act, making so-called “vacation cutting” illegal.
In 2005, two Southern California individuals pled guilty to charges related to a plot to allegedly perform FGM on two minors. In 2006, an Ethiopian man living in Georgia was convicted on charges of aggravated battery and cruelty to children for performing FGM on his 2-year-old daughter.
Unfortunately, it is a rare occasion when someone steps forward to report this crime to law enforcement. Most states don’t have their own laws criminalizing FGM, so many people may not know it’s a federal violation.
“A lot of our efforts focus on increasing community awareness,” said Thomas Bishop, chief of the IHRU. “We want people to know that the FBI is committed to preventing FGM within the United States.”
Anyone who has information about an individual who is suspected of assisting or facilitating the practice of FGM is urged to submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov.
Have a tip we should know? Your anonymity is NEVER compromised. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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