Human Rights Briefing

The Question of Female Genital Mutilation

Around 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM and in Africa, it is estimated that 101 million girls 10 years and above have undergone FGM.

FGM is a social convention and is often thought necessary for raising a girl. It is linked to what some people consider proper sexual behaviour and the fact that the procedures were believed to reduce a woman’s libido so she would resist ‘illicit’ sexual acts. Also, FGM is often associated with some cultural ideas of femininity and modesty and the notion that girls should be ‘clean’ after the removal of body parts that are considered ‘unclean’. There are no religious scripts that suggest it but practitioners often believe there is religious support. Some religious leaders support it, some consider it irrelevant and some contribute to the elimination of it. Leaders of communities and religions, circumcisers and sometimes medical personnel can contribute to encouraging the practice and in some societies it is considered a cultural tradition which is used as an argument to continue the practice.

Since 1997, efforts have been made via research, work in communities and changes to policy to fight FGM. Progress includes:

  • Wider involvement to stop FGM internationally
  • International monitoring bodies and resolutions that condemn the practice
  • Increasing political support to end FGM and revising legal frameworks

In 2008, WHO with 9 UN partners issued a new statement on the elimination of FGM. 2010, WHO published a “Global strategy to stop health care providers from performing Female Genital Mutilation” in collaboration with other key UN agencies and international organisations. Finally, the UN General Assembly accepted a resolution on the elimination of female genital mutilation.

The Question of Protecting the Rights of Religious Minorities in Theocratic States

Theocracy – this is when a leader of a state has a strong connection their divinity. For example, Moses led the Israelites and Muhammad ruled the early Muslims.

Egypt’s theocratic future – according to an article from December in 2012, Morsi tried to rush through  a charter that cemented the Muslim Brotherhood’s deal with the military and granted generals a bit of independence if the generals accommodated the brotherhood’s ambitions politically. Many say that the absence of non-islamists and religious minorities from the assembly drafted it which showed the reason for the large relationship between Islam and Politics.

In India, deep religious diversity can cause problems between different religions and within the religions as well. And just to note that by late 1980s, Islamic political movements emerged in countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Chad, Senegal, Turkey Afghanistan, Pakistan and even Bangladesh.

The first amendment in the USA is known for giving people the right to freedom of speech however, it claims that ‘congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech….to petition the government for a redress of grievances’

It thus states that if you are religious, you have the right to be part of any religious affiliation without fear of discrimination and so clearly shows the USA aims to be as open with religious minorities as possible and protect them.