FGM, or female genital mutilation, is a rite of passage for young girls, found in many parts of the world. The practice is largely found in Africa, and in some parts of the Muslim world outside of Africa. This practice is among the vilest things that may be done to a girl. It is justified on grounds of keeping a girl sexually pure, and thus more valuable when it comes to marriage.
It is unclear why or when FGM began to be practiced. The practice is best known among Muslims, and among those it is African Muslims who are most infamous for it. It is the case that FGM is found in nations with a substantial Christian population such as Benin, 42%, and Cameroon, 40%, though it is not clear that African Christians or animists practice FGM. For our purposes we will look at FGM among Islam.
Among Muslims FGM is justified upon grounds of Islamic teaching, as well as tribalist ideas of honor. It is found in the Hadith, the saying and deeds attributed to Muhammad, that circumcision is to be performed upon both boys and girls. It is likely that Muhammad borrowed male circumcision from Jewish communities in Arabia. Circumcision has also been practiced among ancient Egyptians, and other groups, including Christians.
As the world turns some women, who have survived FGM, are speaking out against it. Muslim women in India, according to the Hindustan Times, are slowly working for it to be made illegal throughout their country. As African and Indian Muslims are migrating all over the world, many have carried the practice of FGM with them into their new homes. Now FGM is performed in places as diverse as Holland, France, UK and the United States. One case in particular should draw attention.
A pair of Michigan doctors, Jumana Nagrawala, Fakhruddin Atttar, and Attar’s wife, have been accused of performing FGM on many girls in Minnesota and Michigan. The case has yet to go to trial but some of the facts are known. These three persons are alleged to have committed FGM upon possibly as many as 100 young girls.
The three parties are currently accused of circumcising as many as 100 girls in the last 12 years. This case was brought to light by the Detroit Free Press, which says, “The defense has argued that the Attars did not engage in any criminal act and that the procedure at issue is a protected religious rite-of-passage that involves no cutting, but rather a scraping of genital membrane. They also argued the Attars are not a danger to the society and have no reason or desire to flee, convincing U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to release them on bond.”
The Attars are members of a Shia sect called Dawoodi Bohra. Dawoodis, who call FGM khatna, have engaged in this practice not only the US, but also in India. If they are convicted, Dr. Nagrawala and Dr. Attar face up to life in jail, while Attar’s wife may face up to 20 years.
This practice is largely being ignored by Western authorities and activists. Feminists prove their cowardice in eliding the whole issue of FGM. I examined several major feminist organizations, and blogs, and found very little on FGM. The last piece on the National Organization for Women website that discussed FGM, was written in June of 2010. By contrast, the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation, founded and named for the feminist critic of Islam and FGM-survivor, has made these issues primary part of their work.
Feminism’s original goal was to stand up for women and girls who were kept silent by social pressure and bias. Why is it not decrying this evil from the rooftops? Why does a so-called feminist Linda Sarsour ignores the issues in her own faith, and claims Jews cannot be feminists? When will progressive women decide that the suffering of little girls is worth their time?