Goodluck Johnathan may have lost the election, but like many politicians leaving office, he has taken the opportunity to do something important and controversial. He has outlawed so-called "female circumcision" other wise known as Female Genital Mutilation or FGM. This is a process in which the external parts of the female sexual organs are cut away - supposedly with the intention of taking away a woman's ability to feel pleasure and thus insuring her virginity at marriage and later fidelity. It does often remove a woman's sensations of pleasure from sexual intercourse, it also often causes them to lose the ability to reproduce, causes infections, and even death. It is a terrible practice inflicted on about 125 million women every year, and about 1/4 of Nigeria's female population.
The practice is found typically in Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East, where a few isolated Christian communities also do it, but also occurs in places like Malaysia and a few other Asian nations. Anthropological and historical evidence suggests that it is a cultural practice the predates the adoption of Islam, not a religious one, but like so many other things it gets sanctified and people find religious justification for doing something they would have done anyway.
I could mention several passages from the Qur'an against the practice, such as:
“The One Who has ‘perfected everything’ He has created and began the creation of human beings from clay” (Qur’an 32:7)
“Allah is the One who made the Earth a habitat for you, and the sky as a structure, and He designed you, and has perfected your design.” (Qur’an 40:64)
“(Satan said), ‘I will command them and they will change Allah’s creation.'” (Qur’an 4:119-120)
to argue that altering a woman's body in this way is a violation of Allah's perfection, and akin to blasphemy.
However, I am not an Islamic scholar by any stretch of the imagination. The reason I am sharing this is two fold:
1. We need to be aware of the suffering of other people, particularly those who lack the social power to create change, at home and abroad.
2. When we hear of practices that disgust us we should not be quick to condemn a faith system. There are lots of things that people do in the name of Christianity that disgust me, but that does not invalidate my faith.
Education, as always, is the key.