is estimated that over 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with or
at risk of suffering the associated negative health consequences of FGM
year 3 million girls and women are at risk of FGM and are therefore exposed to
the potential negative health consequences of this harmful practice.
has no known health benefits, and those girls and women who have undergone the
procedure are at great risk of suffering from its complications throughout
procedure of FGM is painful and traumatic, and is often performed under
unsterile conditions by a traditional practitioner who has little knowledge of
female anatomy or how to manage possible adverse events. Moreover, the removal of or damage to healthy
genital tissue interferes with the natural functioning of the body and may
cause severe immediate and long-term negative health consequences.
practice of FGM is prevalent in 30 countries in Africa and in a few countries
in Asia and the Middle East, but also present across the globe due to
practice is deeply rooted in a strong cultural and social framework. It is
endorsed by the practicing community and is supported by loving parents who
believe that undergoing FGM is in the best interest of their daughter.
beliefs sustaining the practice of FGM vary greatly from one community to
another, although there are many common themes. However, the primary reason is
that it is part of the history and cultural tradition of the community.
its cultural importance, we need to acknowledge the fact that FGM is a harmful
traditional practice that violates the rights of girls and women. Therefore, FGM has to be eliminated.
FGM is practiced among some adherents of the Muslim, Christian, Jewish faiths
and some animists’
FGM is erroneously linked to religion. FGM it is not particular to any
religious faith, and predates Christianity and Islam. At the community level,
those who carry out FGM offer a mix of cultural and religious reasons for the
and Muslims alike erroneously believe that circumcision of girls prevents them
from promiscuity and makes them more attractive for future husbands; mothers
fear that their daughters cannot get married if they’re uncut.
first reference to circumcision in the Bible is found in the Book of Genesis
17:10, in which God ordered Abraham to circumcise his sons. It reads “This is
my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to
keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. (Genesis 17:10)”
circumcision is not mentioned at all in the Bible and is rejected by
Christianity for this reason. Moreover, whereas male circumcision does not
mutilate the male sex organ, FGM damages the healthy female sex organ and
deforms what God has created.
also repudiates FGM because of its immediate and long-term adverse health
effects and refutes claims that female circumcision protects a girl’s chastity
before marriage. Christianity believes that virtue cannot be imposed but must
be gained by spiritual growth.
association of FGM with Islam has been refuted by many Muslim scholars, who say
that FGM contradicts the “Do no Harm” principle of Islam. FGM is not prescribed
in the Quran and is contradictory to the teachings of Islam.
the Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomar says: “FGM must be stopped in support of one
of the highest values of Islam, namely “Accept no harm and do no harm to
another.” in accordance with the commandment of the Prophet Mohammed.
some Christians and Muslims alike believe that FGM is compulsory for followers
of their religion. Because of this flawed linking of FGM to various religions,
especially Christianity and Islam, religious leaders have an important role to
play in dissociating FGM from religion.
leaders have the access, the power and the influence to change things. If we
don’t have the support of religious leaders, as advocates, then it may be hard
to stop FGM. The power of religion/religious leaders in shaping perceptions and
influencing public opinion is well-known.
leaders have led the way in tackling development, gender, and health issues, Religious
leaders can also lead the way to ending FGM.
and most importantly, Religious leaders should focus on de-linking FGM from
religion among their congregations.
the capacities of these religious leaders can be built to speak out against
FGM. This will enable them dissuade their members from the harmful practice.
Explaining that girl children who do not undergo FGM grows up to be healthy
women and no less female than girls who do.
on their influence, it would be easier for religious leaders to drum support
from religious faiths against FGM.
leaders can encourage their members to come up with drama episodes on the
dangers of and the need to end FGM.
leaders can encourage their youth to use social media to campaign against FGM.
End FGM information circulating among religious faithfuls will strike up
discussions about ending the harmful practice of FGM.
leaders have the potential to fastrack the actualization of zero incidence of
FGM dream across the globe.
various religious faithful understand clearly that FGM is not linked to their
religion, then many adherents will have a change of mind-sets.
leaders (Christian and Muslim) are highly influential persons’ in the community
and, therefore, their involvement will help to fast-track FGM total abandonment
Religious leaders (Christian and Muslim) can play a
key role in the prevention of FGM by sharing the information through
sensitizing their members
also regular interactions with families provide them with unique
opportunities to share such information. Findings show that providing health
education on FGM to people during consultation will go a long way to end
Religious leaders (Christian and Muslim) as advocate is therefore very
important. This will make the members therefore to see the need to end cutting
It is assumed that Religious leaders (Christian and
Muslim) can lead the campaign to #endcuttinggirls
with more passion. The campaign will be more impactful with Religious leaders
(Christian and Muslim) coming on board. In changing the mindset of individuals/communities
that still believe in and/or practice FGM and
that all religious leaders (Christian and Muslim) should take
action to end the practice, committed within or outside a denomination. Less is
known however about the involvement of religious leaders (Christian and Muslim)
Research suggests that there are several ways to win
religious leader’s (Christian and Muslim) support as allies in FGM abandonment
training programs for religious leaders (Christian and Muslim), particularly
those living in the areas where FGM is widely practiced, should focus on what
FGM is, why it is practiced, its health impact and ways to prevent it. Such
trainings must also sensitize the religious leaders (Christian and
Muslim) to the fact that FGM is a violation of girl’s and women’s right to
religious leaders (Christian and Muslim), as a focus of FGM abandonment programs, should be
given the opportunity to reflect on their own beliefs and think critically
about how these views may fuel the continuation of the practice.
Having shared that enhancing the capacity of religious
leaders (Christian and Muslim) to lead the campaign to end FGM in religious
settings in Nigeria, we also understand that religious leaders (Christian and
Muslim) need to come to the realization of its importance in ending FGM/C.
Hence, there is need for enhancing the capacity of religious leaders (Christian
and Muslim) across LGAs, Towns, Communities and states in Nigeria.
In conclusion, religious
leaders (Christian and Muslim) are major stakeholders in the fight against
FGM/C and must be engaged.
learn more about the @endcuttinggirls Campaign, please visit endcuttinggirls.org for information. You may also follow our social media handles
on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, using @endcuttinggirls
this point, I will end the presentation to give room for questions and
contributions from participants. Thank you all for reading our tweets