Addressing Genital Mutilation with Justice, Not Deception

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), meaning all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, is a horrendous practice, which must be combated not only through criminalization but also through education regarding its traumatic effects.  This physically painful mutilation, falsely done in the name of preserving sexual modesty and chastity, is one of the most overt forms of misogyny in the world today.  As I believe that it should be robustly fought against, I also see that opportunists in America are misusing this oppression as a means of promoting and enabling Islamophobia for political purposes and monetary benefit.

The recent nationwide campaign to promote a documentary supposedly made to empower Muslim women titled “Honor Diaries” which was produced by the notorious anti-Muslim organization Clarion Project formerly known as the Clarion Fund attempts to highlight FGM/C as a Muslim issue.  Whereas some Muslim girls are victims of FMG/C, the problem with this narrative is that this form of mutilation is primarily done in certain countries in Africa, not the majority of the Muslim world, plus its victims’ families are practitioners of indigenous faiths, Christianity and Islam.  Hence, the narrative projected by Clarion Project and its enablers is fallacious in the sense that this problem is not specifically Muslim, nor are the vast majority of Muslim women stretching from North America to Indonesia subjected to this cultural torture.

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the state of Washington to ban and give legal consequences for those performing FGM/C.  I’m in agreement with such legislation on the surface.  The problem becomes when supporters of such legislation, as with the so-called anti-sharia laws or restriction of foreign laws legislation, intentionally use such an issue, which is not widespread in America, as a means of subtly promoting Islamophobia under the guise of preventing a problem before it takes root.

I’m an advocate for protecting the rights of women as well as providing increased funds to states for improving access for providing counseling to immigrant communities that are from countries in which FGM/C is widely practiced.  This can be done, however, without unjustly portraying American Muslims in the process to further marginalize the community in the socio-political arena.  True justice by nature cannot be achieved through unethical tactics.

As Imam Ali (May Allah Ennoble His Face) said, “The victor by means of mischief is a loser.”  As we as a nation strive to become a “more perfect union” with “liberty and justice for all,” it’s our responsibility to make sure that we help those in need without injustice being committed in the name of protecting and empowering women who have been victimized.

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