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Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) is practiced in at least 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a few countries in the Middle East and Asia, and among immigrant populations from these countries in Europe, North America, and Australia. Worldwide, an estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women have undergone the practice, and at least three million girls are at risk each year. The Somali ethnic community in Kenya as well in Somalia, Djibouti, and Ethiopia, has practiced female genital cutting for centuries and the practice appears to have remained largely unchanged. The Population Council’s FRONTIERS program carried out two studies to better understand the practice among the Somalis in North Eastern Province to inform the design and implementation of interventions to encourage its abandonment. These studies confirmed that FGM/C is a deeply rooted and widely supported practice that is sustained through cultural justifications that reinforce its continuation. This booklet is an effort to clarify the truth about Islam and the practice of FGM/C by critically examining the evidence cited by supporters of the practice, especially those who describe it as an Islamic practice.


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