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The Reasons of Persistency and Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in Africa

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Meinardus says the Muslims and Copts share the same view of the “ ideal woman” as a circumcised woman. The Copts of Upper Egypt believe that “ Mary, the Virgin Mother, and Theotokos (God-bearer), was circumcised, for to think of her as being uncircumcised would be to question whether she was really a woman” (Meinaradus, 2000, 328). Not only was FGM sanctioned by Coptic Christianity but its legitimacy was further confirmed by Islam. History indicates that in Medina female circumcision was practiced during the time of the Prophet Mohammed (Salama, 1980). In Islam, female circumcision is mentioned in several hadith, which are a collection of Mohammed's sayings and a record of some of his activities.

Hadiths are the foundations of Sunna which are the reports by human sources on what Mohammed said and did, which in turn show the customs Mohammed practiced (Saadawi, 2002). One hadith states that as Mohammed was passing by a woman circumcising her daughter, he said to her “ Do not remove all of it” (Meinaradus, 2000, p. 326). Another author discusses a different hadith that states, “ Circumcision is my way for men, but is merely ennobling for women” (Ammar, 2006, p.

120). There is mention in Islamic doctrine regarding female circumcision. Since, however, Mohammed allowed excision in practice but limited it in scope, there are grounds to believe that Islam does sanction some form of female circumcision. As a direct outcome of its religious and cultural roots, not to mention centuries of practices, efforts to combat FGM have not met with the expected success. In 2008, various United Nations agencies committed themselves to the effort to combat the practice. Besides the launching of widespread awareness campaigns which are designed to educate populations on the hazards of the practice, these agencies are incentivizing governments to take a stand against FGM (Nation’ s Health, 2008).

They are actively engaged in the incentivization of governments through the provision of financial aid, not to mention the funds that they pour into the relevant FGM awareness campaigns.    

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