Equal status for women in society is, in my view, a key to the successful demographic future of the world. So we need to pay tribute over the next 16 days (really, only 16 days??) to activism against gender violence. Violence obviously represents the extreme example of the subjugation of women by men (not to mention by other women who buy into the idea of male superiority). Female genital mutilaton (FGM) is one of these acts of violence and only a few days ago an Egyptian court rendered a not guilty verdict against a doctor who had performed FGM on a 12-year girl who died as a result of the operation, as reported by the Guardian:
The first doctor to be brought to trial in Egypt on charges of female genital mutilation (FGM) has been acquitted, crushing hopes that the landmark verdict would discourage Egyptian doctors from conducting the endemic practice.
Raslan Fadl, a doctor and Islamic preacher in the village of Agga, northern Egypt, was acquitted of mutilating Sohair al-Bata’a in June 2013. The 12-year-old died during the alleged procedure, but Fadl was also acquitted of her manslaughter.
No reason was given by the judge, with the verdict being simply scrawled in a court ledger, rather than being announced in the Agga courtroom.
Sohair’s father, Mohamed al-Bata’a, was also acquitted of responsibility. Police and health officials testified that the child’s parents had admitted taking their daughter to Fadl’s clinic for the procedure.
Despite his acquittal, the doctor was ordered to pay 5,001 Egyptian pounds (about £450) to Sohair’s mother for her daughter’s manslaughter, after the pair reached an out-of-court settlement.The idea behind this is that since it reduces the pleasure from intercourse, it also reduces the risk of adultery.
According to surveys by Unicef, an estimated 91% of married Egyptian women aged between 15 and 49 have been subjected to FGM, 72% of them by doctors. Unicef’s research suggests support for the practice is gradually falling: 63% of women in the same age bracket supported it in 2008, compared with 82% in 1995.This practice has nothing to do with Islam, per se. Rather, it is a cultural practice that continues to emphasize the lower status and "fallibility" of women compared to men. There is a world-wide movement against it and we all need to support that however we can.