Female Circumcision

Female Circumcision Ban Nullified – 3 Issues

Female Circumcision Ban Nullified


Female Genital Mutilation


Female Circumcision Ban Nullified

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a court in Cairo, Egypt, overturned a 1996 government ban on health workers carrying out female circumcision. The ruling had been sought by eight Islamic scholars and doctors who argued that the ban was in violation of religious beliefs and interfered with physicians’ prerogatives to perform medical duties.

“For practical purposes, the ban will remain in effect until a final verdict is reached in the higher courts. In addition, most girls undergo the operation at home at the hands of unlicensed midwives or barbers who use razor blades to cut off part or all the labia and clitoris. In some cases, they also sew closed the vaginal opening until the child is old enough to be married,” the report said.

A recent survey of about 15000 women between 15 and 49 in urban and rural areas revealed that 97% had undergone the operation. Those in favor of circumcision argue that uncircumcised girls will be considered loose or they believe that circumcision helps cleanliness.

Women’s and human rights groups vowed that they would continue their campaign to reverse the ruling and to educate parents against circumcision. “The female circumcision is widespread in North African countries such as Egypt and Sudan, but is viewed with abhorrence in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the Persian Gulf states.”

Female Circumcision Ban Nullified

Dear Editor:

The ruling by an Egyptian court overturning a government ban on female circumcision is a case of a government using religion to maintain a repugnant practice. The Mubarak administration is sacrificing women to quiet the Muslim opposition to appear more religious. As mentioned in the article, the majority of one billion Muslims worldwide do not practice female circumcision.

This custom, which predated Islam, goes against the principles of true Islam, which guarantees a woman’s right to sexual satisfaction. Mounir Fawzi’s claim that it “helps to keep women’s sexual drives to acceptable and reasonable levels” is just a superficial ploy to give legitimacy to medical malpractice, and to pacify the Muslim clerics. What is the result of female circumcision? Only a lifelong sentence of physical and emotional scarring.

We, in the Muslim Women’s League, consider this latest ruling a major defeat in the fight for women’s rights all over the world. It seems that we must increase our efforts with which we educate Muslim men and women in the countries that practice female genital mutilation. If we do not, then women will continue to suffer at the hands of those who will do anything to subjugate women and sustain the status quo. We call on Muslims worldwide to be courageous enough to speak out against this abhorrent practice.

Laila Al-Marayati, President
Muslim Women’s League, Los Angeles, July 1997

Female Circumcision Ban Nullified


The Veil Returns in Surge of Tradition

veiled woman


The Veil Returns in Surge of Tradition

An article published in Los Angeles Times on May 24, 1997, focused on the return of the traditional veil, which covers not only the hair but the entire face, among conservative Arabs of the Persian Gulf. The article quoted a Saudi cleric issuing a fatwa on the veil, saying that “the gates of evil shall open and will be difficult to shut again” if any man can look into a woman’s eyes.

Some women from the United Arab Emirates said in an interview that they consider wearing the veil, or niqab, as their way of being closer to God. Along with piety, reasons given for wearing the veil include pressure from family and friends and its current stylishness. The article mentioned that women have not only taken to wearing the veil but have also stopped using kohl- an age-old Arab version of eyeliner- around their eyes because the clerics have declared women’s eyes as too alluring.

Dear Editor:

After reading “The Veil Returns in Surge of Tradition (May 24), about the veil worn by some women in Muslim countries, I feel compelled to write a response. As an American Muslim woman, I am becoming weary of seeing the same one-dimensional issue rehashed in the media. Yes, the veil is worn by some Muslim women, and if they alone choose to be attired so and they are happy with their own decision, then more power to them.

Let it be known that the Saudi clerics are relying on their male-oriented interpretation of what a woman should wear. These fatwas are certainly not accepted by all Muslims. I wonder why the more pressing issues of poverty and illiteracy of Muslim women are not given the same amount of coverage as the veil.

Fatima Cash,
Muslim Women’s League, May 1997


Egyptian Woman Scarred by Hate

The following letter was in response to an article in Los Angeles Times, published on May 3, 1997, on the rampant violence against women in Egypt.

Dear Editor:

As a Muslim woman of Egyptian origin, I was offended after reading the article. It is disturbing that the article even remotely suggests that Egypt’s epidemic of violence against women is attributed to the practice of Islam.

Unfortunately, in all parts of the world, a common form of violence against women is that committed by husbands on their wives. Despite the outrageous claims made by some religious figures that there are “situations when violence is legitimate,” genuine Islam requires just the opposite. Islam insists that husbands treat their wives with respect and it prohibits any form of physical or emotional abuse.

The Muslim Women’s League acknowledges the suffering of the Egyptian women who were scarred both physically and emotionally by the cruelty of those deranged men. Furthermore, we would like to strongly emphasize that violence toward women has no basis in Islam. Rather, it is a societal problem that must be eliminated through education and the empowerment of women.

Rania Abdellatif,
Muslim Women’s League, Los Angeles

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