Closing Statement to Consultative Meeting about FGM Abolition

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Closing Statement


Consultative Meeting to Develop a Comprehensive Communication Strategy and Plan of Action to Abolish Female Genital Mutilation FGM in Sudan



I have been requested by the organizers of this workshop to make this final statement, which I preface by recognizing the positive contribution of the GOS, the UNICEF, other UN agencies, NGOs, contributers from Sudanese States, Media personnel, and last but not least Ms. Silvia Luciani, in the resounding success of this workshop. It has been a well prepared, well attended, participatory, gender balanced, and efficient workshop, which identified the problem of FGM, analyzed its multiple harmful effects, high lightened its violation of women, children and indeed global Human Rights, called for a broad National, Governmental, and International alliance to eradicate it, and charted a seven points stratagem to that purpose. A stratagem, which would involve cultural, legal, informational, educational, health awareness, financial, and surveillance means to eradicate the obnoxious practice.

To this impressive performance, I would like to add the following observations:

          FIRST: The findings and recommendations of this workshop should provide ammunition for the promotion of the FGM problem from its specialist and elitist credentials along the BABIKIR BADRI and the Society for the elimination of harmful practices programs, into a National problem.

SECOND: The recommendations have rightly sought to decline any links between FGM and Islamic and Christian religions requirements.

There are four main sayings of the Prophet supporting a form of the practice, they are:

  • That circumcision is required of men (سنة) but recommended for women (مكرمة)
  • That he directed Um Atiah to cut at the surface and not crave when circumcising.
  • That he said that if the two genitals come into contact, then the couple should wash from intercourse. He referred to the genitals as the circumcised organs.
  • That he said that he spoke about five requirements of cleanliness, one of which is circumcision.

The four sayings have been faulted on the credentials of the narrators and the substance of their meaning. Several erudite Muslim Ulema have faulted the credentials of these sayings of the Prophet: Imam Al shawkani in his Nail Al Awtar vol. 1, said: “Ibn Al Munzir said: There is no truthful saying of the prophet on the issue of female circumcision”. Said Sabig in his Fikh Al Sunnah vol. 1 said: All prophetic sayings on female circumcision are weak and none could be accepted”.

However, we need to go further and not only make the case that FGM is not a religious duty, but that its abolition is a religious duty.

The Prophet has said that there is no harm nor harmful response in Islam (لا ضرر ولا ضرار) there are numerous Prophetic sayings, which recommend the enhancement of sexual pleasure between the couples. There is a general Quranic basis for acceptable and unacceptable behavior in Islam, Al Araf 157: “He commends them to the requirements of the general moral sense (المعروف) and forbids them from that which is abhorrent (المنكر), he allows them all that is good (الطيبات) and prohibits all that is detestable (الخبائث).

Religious beliefs are not neutral in the conduct of life. The marginalizers of religion have done a double disservice to themselves and to the community: They isolated themselves from the grassroots, and they left the considerable influence of religion to be manipulated by reactionaries. Religion should be positively engaged in the campaign against FGM.

THIRD: FGM enjoys a cultural position of honor in our society. It is described by terms, which commend it. The worst insult to a person is to call him or her the son or daughter of an uncircumcised mother (ود الغلفا). It is second only to insult their religion (سب الدين). We need a cultural and literary campaign to turn the tables and demonize FGM. The whole terminology has to change:التسمية: تشويه تناسليات الأنثى الخارجية لا الطهارة، السالمة لا الغلفا..الخ

FOURTH: I would like to share with you an autobiographical note: I had a great love and respect for my mother, she tearfully narrated two stories to me in my childhood: One about two beautiful girls of her cousins who died after being circumcised, the second about how she was forcefully had her cheeks cut up to scar them. Freud once said that every male harbors feelings of sadism and every female feelings of masochism. If he was looking for evidence for his masocho- sadistic theory in Sudan, he would not have been disappointed: Lips and gums are bombarded with needles to fix a black coloration in them, so are limbs for tattoo purposes, nostrils and ears and ear lobes are pierced in several places, cheeks are ploughed for scars, widowed women are actually tortured, and finally the external genitalia are decapitated. That scenario produced a revolution that made me insist that females must not be touched even for the relatively benign purposes of earring holes. I hope that my feelings will be shared by as many peoples as possible to eliminate these damaging practices.

Finally, I must thank the workshop organizers for this purposeful opportunity, and the Hilton administration for their services, which if anything could be faulted on is over catering and over pampering. However, that is another less important issue to address the issue of obesity.

Thank you.