Religious Leaders pledge support for FGM elimination in Nigeria

Rafat Salami, Abuja

Religious leaders in Nigeria, have pledged to support government’s effort at eradicating Female Genital Mutilation/cutting FGM/C.

Wife of Nigeria’s President Aisha Buhari had on February 9th launched a national response to eliminate FGM/C, during which she charged all sectors, groups and levels of government to support the project.

In separate interviews with Voice of Nigeria both Muslim and Christian leaders say the practice erodes the pride of a woman and constitutes dangers to her.

Alhaji Busair Salaudenn who runs a centre for Islamic cultural awareness in Ibadan the Oyo state capital said female circumcision was not Islamic and not in the Quran.

”As a scholar of Islam we have never come across any literature that says female should be circumcised. Even circumcision as a whole is not an issue that belongs to the fundamentals of Islam. When we say something is fundamental, it means something you should do, failure of which keeps you outside the fold of Islam”, he said.

Alhaji Busair blamed those who associate Islam to female circumcision for cultural practices to religion.

Also speaking, the Venerable Dr promise Oparah Anozie, Priest of the Anglican Church in Owerri in Imo state also said female circumcision has no biblical basis.

He said ”It doesn’t have any base in the bible, the bible talks about male being circumcised and not women and there is no place for female genital mutilation and cutting in the scriptures.”

The Nigerian association of circumcision family, a registered body of people who practice traditional circumcision, has also joined in the campaign to end FGM. Its patron Chief Abiola Ogundokun, told Voice of Nigeria that members are willing to stop FGM but asked for more enlightenment on the health hazards of FGM among its members.

‘‘We now understand why women should not be circumcised. I believe that there should be dialogue with families that do circumcision, to sit down as use them as campaigners so that when parents bring their girl children to us, our people would be enlightened to stop the circumcision’’, he stated.

Nigeria is among 193 countries that agreed to the new global target of eliminating FGM/C by 2030, a practice that the  National Demographic Health Survey 2013 says have been inflicted on 25% of women.

FGM/C is an extremely harmful traditional practice, documented in 28 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Little is known about the origin of the practice, which predates contemporary world religions.

A new global target and call to action to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2030 was launched on February 6, International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM by UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, and UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake