The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (IZRS) has defended the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), claiming that Islamic law justifies the practice.
The organisation released an “Islamic legal opinion” this week arguing that a form of so-called “female circumcision”, involving the removal of parts of the genitals, is justified, Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger reports.
IZRS Secretary-General Ferah Uluca said that while the paper justifies the practice, it does not call on Muslims to perform it as a duty. Ulucay said it is up to each parent to decide, but the paper does claim the practice is not harmful to the girl involved.
The paper also uses a United Nations Population Fund report to back its argument comparing FGM to male circumcision — but the report cited states that the health consequences of male and female circumcision are much different.
The “Sunna circumcision” is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Type 1 FGM which involves either the removal of the clitoral hood (prepuce) only (Type 1a) or the removal of the clitoris with the prepuce (Type 1b).
FGM has been illegal in Switzerland since 2012 and those found to practice any form of it are liable to be imprisoned for up to ten years.
Many advocates for FGM justify the process as “female circumcision”, claiming that it is separate from FGM. One such Islamic scholar, Irish Muslim leader Ali Selim, made this argument earlier this month saying: “I’m not an advocate of female genital mutilation but I am an advocate of female circumcision.”
The United Nations and the WHO make no distinction between various forms of female circumcision, labelling them all FGM.
Cases of FGM have skyrocketed across Europe due to mass migration policies with the UK seeing 5,000 cases in 2016 but no prosecutions, despite it being illegal.
In France, a recent report from an anti-FGM charity claimed that up to 30 per cent of the girls living in Paris’s heavily migrant-populated suburbs were at risk of FGM.
The prevalence of FGM has not been limited to Europe either, with more and more cases being seen in Canada as well.