Religion and FGM

FGM is practised by members of all major religions

Key Findings

FGM is an ancient traditional practice that has been taking place for over 2,000 years. It is often mistakenly believed that FGM should be performed for religious reasons.

Both Christian and Islamic scholars have explicitly taken a stand against FGM, producing clear statements that it is not a religious requirement and is in oppoisition to the core principles of each faith.

However, at the community level, many people still believe that FGM is a religious requirement.  In order to shift these deeply-held beliefs, local faith leaders must speak out against the practice on the basis of the religious statements that exist.  (For more information on these, see 28 Too Many's Religion and FGM Factsheet below.)  It is essential that local faith leaders are trained on FGM and what each religion actually says about it, so they can speak out wth confidence and credibility.

Peace. Love. Tolerance. Key Messages from Islam and Christianity on protecting children from violence and harmful practices concludes:

Both Christianity and Islam honour women and girls.  Both religions agree that God has created humans in the best form and the sanctity of the human body must always be protected from harm.  On these grounds, there is religious consensus that FGM/C is a detrimental social and cultural practice, which has no relation or justification in religion, either Christianity or Islam.  Hence, abandoning this harmful practice is a religious and moral duty.

Religious Requirement

FGM is NOT required by any religious script

Practising Faiths

FGM is practised by ALL the major religions at differing rates depending on location

FGM and Religion

The practice of FGM pre-dates all the major religions

Religious Leaders

Leaders of all faiths have a critical role to play in the work to end FGM internationally

Call to action

FGM is not required by any of the major religious texts, and many faith leaders have spoken out against it.  A shift in the belief that FGM is required by the major Abrahamic religions is essential to reducing and eventually eliminating FGM.  Both governments and activists need to work alongside leaders of all faiths to bring about lasting change.

Research and Resources