Precedence Set Against Female Genital Mutilation In Norway
Two Gambian Islamic religious leaders, including the leader of the Muslim Council in Oslo and a Somalian are facing prosecution for aiding and abetting female genital mutilation (FGM) in Norway. The religious leaders allegedly told a 20-year old Somalian girl to consent to mutilation, providing her with inaccurate information in an attempt to convince her that "the practice was neither harmful or dangerous." If convicted, the three face three to eight years imprisonment. The Norwegian governments' prosecution of these men is seen as a major step toward fighting FGM among African immigrants in Europe. Female genital mutilation is a brutal and debilitating ritual that some cultures, the majority of which are in Africa, practice. As citizens from these nations immigrate, the practice is forced underground in their new countries or families send their daughters abroad for mutilation. Female genital mutilation involves the painful sewing of the vagina and/or removal of the clitoris. Research findings indicate that between 85 and 115 million women and girls worldwide have undergone the practice, victims of FGM face possible health risks including death from excessive bleeding, infection or complications during childbirth, blockage of the birth canal with scar tissue and sexual dysfunction. Cultural myths surrounding the practice claim mutilation as a symbol of chastity, a rite of passage and a link to fertility.
Media Resources: The Independent 9 October 2000, Feminist Global News Wire