Displaying items by tag: Female genital mutilation
Treating female genital mutilation costs USD 1.4 billion per year globally: WHO
Female genital mutilation (FGM) exacts a crippling economic as well as human cost, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
“FGM is not only a catastrophic abuse of human rights that significantly harms the physical and mental health of millions of girls and women; it is also a drain on a country’s vital economic resources,” said Dr Ian Askew, Director of WHO’s Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research. “More investment is urgently needed to stop FGM and end the suffering it inflicts.”
New modelling reveals that the total costs of treating the health impacts of FGM would amount to USD 1.4 billion globally per year, if all resulting medical needs were addressed. For individual countries, these costs would near 10% of their entire yearly expenditure on health on average; in some countries, this figure rises to as much as 30%.
The interactive modelling tool that generated these data was launched on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
Severe physical and mental health impacts for women and girls
Women and girls living with FGM face serious risks to their health and well-being. These include immediate consequences after being cut, such as infections, bleeding or psychological trauma, as well as chronic health conditions that can occur throughout life.
Women who have undergone the procedure are more likely to experience life-threatening complications during childbirth. They may face mental health disorders or suffer chronic infections. They may also have pain or problems when they menstruate, urinate or have sexual intercourse.
All of these conditions warrant much-needed medical attention and care.
“High healthcare costs for countries mount because of the tragic personal impacts on women and girls. Governments have a moral responsibility to help end this harmful practice,” says Dr Prosper Tumusiime, Acting Director for Universal Health Coverage and the Life Course in the African Regional Office of WHO. “FGM hurts girls, imposes lifelong health risks on the women they become, and strains the healthcare systems that need to treat them.”
Preventing FGM brings major benefits for women, girls, communities and economies
Using data from 27 high-prevalence countries, the Cost Calculator demonstrates clear economic benefits from ending FGM. If it were abandoned now, it shows that the associated savings in health costs would be more than 60% by 2050.
In contrast, if no action is taken, it is estimated that these costs will soar by 50% over the same time period, as populations grow and as more girls undergo the procedure.
Since 1997, great efforts have been made to end FGM, through work within communities, research, and changes in legislation and policy. 26 countries in Africa and the Middle East now explicitly legislate against FGM, as well as 33 other countries with migrant populations from FGM-practicing countries.
WHO is also working with countries to raise awareness of the harmful impacts of the practice among their health workers, and to engage them in prevention efforts.
“Many countries and communities are showing that abandoning female genital mutilation is possible,” states Dr Christina Pallitto, scientist at WHO. “If countries invest to end female genital mutilation, they can prevent their girls from undergoing this harmful practice and promote the health, rights and well-being of women and girls.”
Female genital mutilation is internationally recognized as a human rights violation. It has no medical benefits and causes only harm. WHO’s position is that FGM must never be carried out.
The FGM Cost Calculator will be available here, as of 00:30 CET 6 February 2020:
Notes for Editors
FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. More than 200 million girls and women alive today are estimated to have undergone the practice across 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.
FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and 15 years of age.
About the FGM Cost Calculator
The WHO FGM Cost Calculator shows the economic cost of treating the health complications caused by FGM across 27 high-prevalence countries. These costs were calculated using the WHO One Health tool and other available scientific evidence.
Users of the tool can calculate costs by country in a ‘business as usual’ scenario; a scenario of partial abandonment of FGM, and full abandonment of FGM over a 30-year period. In addition, the distribution of costs by different types of health complications is presented by country.
The tool does not consider other indirect costs that hit families and communities, or the socio-economic impacts of the practice, which would be significantly higher still.
The 27 countries modelled include Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Còte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Soudan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen
Published: News release, Geneva
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.
FGM was practiced among the pre-Islamic Arabs and has survived among some Arab communities after the advent of Islam. Its practice today is widespread despite the generally negative opinion of Muslim scholars concerning it.
FGM is seen as an injury and violation of the physical integrity of a female child. Islamic law and religion only validates circumcision of the male child. There have also been international efforts to persuade practitioners to abandon it, and in 2012 the United Nations General Assembly, recognising FGM as a human-rights violation, voted unanimously to intensify those efforts.
Female circumcision is prevalent in Malaysia. The issue is, however, intermingled with cultural and ethnic sensitivities. Malaysia has no laws in reference to FGM. The practice in Malaysia usually involves a prick or a slit at the top of the clitoris and is widely contested whether it should be construed as FGM at all. Similar practices exist among Malay Muslims of southern Thailand and Indonesia.
The procedure was previously performed by village midwives but with rapid urbanisation, it has moved to formal healthcare settings, clinics and hospitals.
This also brought with it a dilemma for doctors — whether to perform the procedure and if so, how exactly to do it. Doctors turned to the Health Ministry, which then consulted the National Fatwa Committee in 2009.
Mary Ainslie in her study, The 2009 Malaysian Female Circumcision Fatwa, wrote that rather than continue dialogue with medical practitioners or open up discussions with international Islamic organisations, the committee’s immediate response was “to draw up and issue the fatwa very quickly in early 2009”. The fatwa puzzled many in the ministry as it marked a paradigm shift in the practice with female circumcision moving it from being sunnah (recommended) to being wajib (obligatory).
In other Muslim countries, religious leaders have debated the FGM. Reportedly, in 2006, the Cairo-based Egyptian Dar al-Ifta convened an international conference of scientists and Islamic scholars, and after exploring a diverse range of opinions, it concluded that the mutilation presently practised in some parts of Egypt, Africa and elsewhere represents a “deplorable custom which finds no justification in the authoritative sources of Islam, the Quran and the practice of the Prophet”.
The former grand mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, emphasised that Islam is a religion of knowledge, learning and research. While FGM was previously practised as a social custom (and not a religious requirement), it becomes a religious obligation to say unequivocally that the practice of FGM is today forbidden in Islam.
In countries, such as Burkina Faso and Senegal in West Africa, religious leaders themselves have led the call for abandonment of the practice and with success.
There is no reference to FGM in the Quran whatsoever. No ruling of general consensus (ijma’) nor of an analogy (qiyas) with the male circumcision has been recorded. The one hadith that is often quoted in support of FGM is problematic and seen as forgery.
Thus, it is reported that a Madinah woman, Umm Atiyyah, practiced FGM and other women used to go to her for the purpose. Then it is added that the Prophet told her one day: “Oh, Umm Atiyyah! Take the smallest amount (of the skin) so as not to weaken (the body); for it gladdens the face and adds enjoyment for the husband.”
Al-Baihaqi and Abu Dawud have recorded slightly different versions of the hadith. Abu Dawud has followed it with the comment that the chain of transmission of the hadith is weak and broken in parts (da’if, munqati’).
One of its narrators is Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Kufi. Some hadith scholars have identified him and Muhammad b. Sa’id al-Kadhdhab were one and the same person, who was believed to have fabricated 4,000 hadiths, and was executed for it by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur (d. 775CE). Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal has confirmed that he was a zindiq (heretic) which was why he was executed.
Contemporary Egyptian scholar, Mohammad Salim el-Awa, has quoted a large number of prominent Muslim scholars, including Zayn al-Din al-‘Iraqi (d.1403 CE), Muhammad b. Ali al-Shawkani (d. 1839 CE), Sayyid Sabiq (d. 2000 CE), Yusuf al-Qaradawi and others to say that the hadith is unreliable and should be discarded.
Mohammad Salim draws the conclusion that FGM is a violation of the physical safety of young girls, and it is a fallacy to label FGM as permissible (mubah).
We now have two conflicting syariah positions, which affect the people’s lives. Both cannot be correct. It is likely that there is some weakness in both versions.
Since there is no scriptural ruling on FGM and it is the subject of juristic conflict, the issue may be determined on rational grounds, by reference perhaps to the benefit (maslahah) and harm (mafsadah) thereof. General tendency among Muslim scholars, and also the international opinion, is inclined to suggest that its harm outweighs its benefit.
A gradual approach and campaign to discourage the practice may be advised, starting perhaps with parents, as the current Mufti of Perlis has also suggested, that parents should stop sending their female children to be circumcised. It is an individual right and should be left to their personal choice. Education and the mass media should also play a role.
Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.
Published in: New Straits Times, Friday 14 December 2018