Is FGM a matter of Religion?

Religion is often the first answer given when people are asked why they practice Female Genital Mutilation – but is this link between FGM and religion founded?  Why is FGM still practiced in the name of religions that do not impose it? How can we deconstruct the ideas around FGM and religion in our work towards the abandonment of FGM?

To support the debate, we drafted a thematic note containing information on the supposed link between religion and FGM, as well as resources and questions to inform the debate. We invite everyone interested in the subject to read this note.

Two experts contributed in the thematic discussion organized by the CoP FGM in May 2019:

  • the Imam Moussé Fall, coordinator of the Islam and Population Network from Senegal, an active network in the fight against FGM, especially through awareness-raising activities of religious leaders; 

  • scholar and activist Maryam Sheikh Abdi’s who has contributed to the Population Council report « Delinking Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting from Islam » and the study « A Religious Oriented Approach to Addressing FGM/C among the Somali Community of Wajir, Kenya», available in the thematic note.

Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh S., Sami A, 2012, Centre de droit arabe et musulman. Circoncision masculine et féminine : débat religieux, médical, social et juridique., Access here

Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh S., Sami A., 1994, To Mutilate in the Name of Jehovah or Allah: Legitimization of Male and Female Circumcision, Access here 

Bouhdiba A., 1975, La sexualité en Islam, Access here

Cohen, Shaye J. D., Oakland,University of California Press, 2005. Why Aren’t Jewish Women Circumcised? Gender and Covenant in Judaism here

Christianize: Exode 4:25, Josué 5: 7, Actes: 7: 8, Romains 2:28, Romains 4:11, 1 Corinthiens 6:18

Earp B.D., Hendry J., Thomson M., 2017, Reason and paradox in medical and family law: shaping children’s bodies, Access here 

El-Damanhoury I., 2013,  The Jewish and Christian view on female genital mutilation, Access here 

End Cutting Girls Nigeria, 2017,  Islam does not support FGMC, Access here (video)

Hayford S., Trinitapoli J., 2011, Religious differences in Female Genital Cutting : A Case Study from Burkina Faso, Access here

Human Rights Without Frontiers, 2018, Women’s Rights & Religion. A report on women’s rights and Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  here

Islam and Population Network, Nigeria, Position Paper

Lethome Asmani I. and Sheikh Abdi M., 2008,  Delinking Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting from Islam, Access here

Mahmoodi O., 2016, Survey on religious views on FGM,  Access here

Newell-Jones K., , 2016, Baseline Research Report: Empowering communities to collectively abandon FGM/C in Somaliland, Access here 

Offiong A. V., Daily Trust, 2018, Stories of Nigerian women mutilated in secret (Christian perspective), Access here 

Qur’an, Hadith and Scholars: Female Genital Mutilations, Access here

Serour, G. and Abd El-Hameed Ragab, A.R., 2013, Excision (MGF): Entre utilisation incorrecte de la science et compréhension erronée de la doctrine, Access here

Shafi School Religious Thinking, Access here

Sheikh Abdi M., Population Council 2007, FRONTIERS Program: A Religious Oriented Approach to Addressing FGM/C among the Somali Community of Wajir, Kenya. Access here

Sheikh Abdi M., 2008, Survey on religious views on FGM, Access here

Stop FGM Middle East, 2005 (a), Religion or Culture, Access hereStop FGM Middle East, 2005 (b), Fatwas against FGM, Access here

UNICEF, 2013, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting : a statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change,Access here

Women’s Rights & Religion. A report on women’s rights and Christianity, Islam and Judaism, Access here


“The Community of Practice on Female Genital Mutilation” is part of the “Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM” project, supported by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM”.
The project is coordinated by AIDOS in partnership with GAMS Belgium.

The views expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UNFPA, UNICEF or any other agency or organization.

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