In 2004, FRONTIERS undertook a study on the cultural basis of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) in Kenya’s Somali community. The study showed universal support for FGM/C, and indicated that one of the major justifications is the perception that Islam requires female as well as male genital cutting. Interviews with informants showed that belief in the religious justification overrides arguments about the health and human rights aspects and the knowledge that it is illegal in Kenya. In 2005, FRONTIERS launched an intervention to engage the community in discussions about FGM/C to clarify the religious position. FRONTIERS arranged symposia involving 44 Islamic scholars. Medical experts explained the process and complications of FGM/C, and traditional circumcisers and women described their experiences. Facilitators led discussions on the place of FGM/C in Islamic teaching in terms of Islamic law, shared their views on reasons for practicing FGM/C, and discussed next steps for engaging communities in dialogue. As noted in this brief, scholars agreed that infibulation should end but did not achieve consensus on other aspects of FGM/C.
"Kenya: Islamic scholars find no religious justification for FGM/C," FRONTIERS OR Summary. Washington, DC: Population Council, 2008.
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