How can we use religion as a strategy to tackle FGM?
It appears fundamental to deconstruct religious beliefs as they remain one of the main reasons why communities continue to perform female genital mutilation (7).
In order to achieve this, eminent religious figures taking a stand against FGM seem to be an essential step towards the deconstruction of the links wrongly established between FGM and religious obligation, such as the Muslim scholars of the university Al-Azhar in Egypt, the great Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomar, the ayatollah Fadlallah, the general secretary of the International Federation of Islamic Scholars Muammed Salim A-Awwa etc …
However, many obstacles stand in the way of such public positions (7, 8) :
- The lack of knowledge and doubts on the religious character or not of the practice
- Social pressure and fear of losing one’s social status within the community
- Limited awareness of consequences of FGM
- Underestimations of the severity of the practice by leaders in some communities
- The status of religious figures advocating in favour of the continuation of FGM
Therefore, how can we improve the inclusion of religious leaders in programs aiming toward the end of FGM ?