Female Islamic clerics push for anti-FGM lessons in madrassa curriculum

FGM

Speaking in Kipini, Tana Delta, the group said this will bolster the fight against the illegal cultural practice.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A union of female Islamic religious tutors (Ustadhat) in Tana River County has urged the National Council of Imams to incorporate teachings against female genital mutilation in madrassa.

Speaking in Kipini, Tana Delta, the group said this will bolster the fight against the illegal cultural practice.

"Our girls need to know that it is ungodly for them to undergo what they are forced to go through, and nothing provides a better platform for such talk than in madrassa," said teacher Mwanakheir Abdallah.

The campaign against the cut has been slow because clerics interpret the Quran according to how they understand it, Ms Abdallah said.

Whereas the facts against FGM drawn from the Holy Book are transparent, she said, clerics are too shy to share the information with congregants because they fear being victimised.

"What we have been asking ourselves is if the cut is bad, and most of us agree that it is ungodly and harmful, then that should be the talk across the religious centres in the county, starting with our children," she said.

Defenders of their colleagues

Mwanagarusi Mohammed, a teacher, said that if children are taught about the cut, they will grow to be defenders of their colleagues and a source of reliable information.

But she stressed that the push should not be mistaken for incitement against religious beliefs, as it does not seek to weaken the scriptures but to clarify them for future generations.

"Religion should champion the truth and make a clear path for people to heaven. We must eliminate doublespeak and be vicious in the war against FGM as teachers of religion," she said.

The teachers also urged the government to scale up the fight to end the cut by 2030 by making their threat real.

Whereas the government has been issuing threats to perpetrators of FGM, they said, children in the county still undergo the banned procedure during the holidays and some are sneaked out of the county for it.

They proposed medical checks for children under 12 years old to verify their state, adding that action should be taken against parents who children are found to have undergone the procedure.

"The war against FGM did not start two years ago; it is more than 10 years old and there is a commitment to meet the deadlines, but the government must go hard in meeting this deadline," said activist Muslima Omar.

Meanwhile, the tutors appealed for support from other lobby groups in pushing for anti-FGM lessons to be included in the madrassa curriculum.

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