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Knowledge, perceptions and attitudes of Islamic scholars towards reproductive health programs in Borno State, Nigeria.
African Journal of Reproductive Health. 2007; 11(1):98-106.Some reproductive health policies and activities of international development organizations continued to be criticized by some religious groups. Such criticisms can be serious obstacles in the provision of reproductive health and rights information and services in many communities. This study was conducted to find the knowledge, perception and attitude of Islamic scholars on reproductive health programs and to get some suggestions on the scholars' role in the planning and implementation of reproductive health advocacy and programming. The data were collected by in-depth interview with representative sample of selected Muslim scholars in and around Maiduguri town in Borno State, Nigeria. All the scholars had vague or no idea of what reproductive health is all about. When they were explaining reproductive health, most of the scholars mentioned some of the rights of women especially the need for maintaining the good health of women and their children as reproductive health. Even though they have poorknowledge, all the Muslim scholars interviewed believed that reproductive health is an essential component of healthy living and the programs of the international development organizations are mostly good, but they have reservations and concern to certain campaigns and programs. Scholars that promised their contributions in enhancing reproductive health have a common condition for their continuous support to any international development organization or reproductive health program. Conformity to Islamic norms and principles are prerequisites to their loyalties. The scholars also advised the international development organizations on the need to identify themselves clearly, so that people know from where they are coming, what are their background, and the program that they want to do and the reasons for doing the program in the community. (author's)
Development and Change. 2007 Mar; 38(2):169-199.This article situates the politics of gender in Afghanistan in the nexus of global and local influences that shape the policy agenda of post-Taliban reconstruction. Three sets of factors that define the parameters of current efforts at securing gender justice are analysed: a troubled history of state-society relations; the profound social transformations brought about by years of prolonged conflict; and the process of institution-building under way since the Bonn Agreement in 2001. This evolving institutional framework opens up a new field of contestation between the agenda of international donor agencies, an aid-dependent government and diverse political factions, some with conservative Islamist platforms. At the grassroots, the dynamics of gendered disadvantage, the erosion of local livelihoods, the criminalization of the economy and insecurity at the hands of armed groups combine seamlessly to produce extreme forms of female vulnerability. The ways in which these contradictory influences play out in the context of a fluid process of political settlement will be decisive in determining prospects for the future. (author's)
The "war on terror", and withdrawing American charity: Some consequences for poor Muslim women in Kolkata, India.
Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism. 2004; 4(1):137-167.While I cannot establish conclusive links between connected events, several pertinent questions have, for me, pointed to tentative but disturbing conclusions. The thrust of this paper comments on the disjuncture between American claims to “liberate” the Muslim woman in its “war on terror,” and the actual consequences for “real” people when political agendas underlie such rhetoric—even for private donor agencies working in the developing world. In the account that follows, I describe briefly some of AAES’s programs, with a focus on their programs for women; its achievements; my own involvement as a CSC “sponsor” of a young girl in the basti; and developments after the events of September 11, 2001. (excerpt)
New Courier. 2005 Nov; 4-5.Kokabar is something of a celebrity in Afghanistan's Parvan province because she ran an underground beauty parlour during the Taliban years, when make-up salons were banned. "The first time the Taliban entered our province, they smashed up my shop and beat up my husband. After that I worked in secret with local brides," she says. Now she has two salons in the bazaar in Charikar city, north of Kabul. She is the inspiration and master trainer for dozens of girls who want to learn literacy and some skills they can use to secure their future. This is a UNICEF-supported scheme, one of several ways the NGO is trying to reach the children, especially girls, left with no hope of an education in a country blighted by a quarter of a century of war - and the Taliban's ban on girls setting foot in class. Crammed into a tiny room with a large mirror, ten of them are watching Noorzia, 15, taking tips from Kokabar as she prepares the face of Samia, 14, with heavy make-up for a "Night of Henna" ceremony, when the groom's family visit the bride's home before the wedding. (excerpt)
Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2004 Dec; 82(12):923-927.Using religion to improve health is an age-old practice. However, using religion and enlisting religious authorities in public health campaigns, as exemplified by tobacco control interventions and other activities undertaken by WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Although all possible opportunities within society should be exploited to control tobacco use and promote health, religion-based interventions should not be exempted from the evidence-based scrutiny to which other interventions are subjected before being adopted. In the absence of data and debate on whether this approach works, how it should be applied, and what the potential downsides and alternatives are, international organizations such as WHO should think carefully about using religion-based public health interventions in their regional programmes. (author's)
New York, New York, UNICEF, 2005.  p.At the UN General Assembly's Special Session on Children, May 2002, 190 high-level national delegations, including 69 Heads of State, resolved to complete the agenda. The document that emerged from the Special Session -- 'A World Fit for Children' -- was adopted by consensus at the General Assembly and served to complement the goals defined at the UN Millennium Summit. 'A World Fit for Children' placed the rights of children at the heart of efforts to promote healthy lives; provide quality education; protect children against abuse, exploitation and violence; and combat HIV/AIDS. In September 2005, five years after the Declaration was adopted, the High Level Plenary Meeting of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly provided the opportunity for world leaders to reflect on progress made towards the MDGs and to deliver on their promises to the world's poorest children. Some advances have been made, but progress on almost all the MDGs -- and the 'World Fit for Children' commitments -- is behind schedule. Without a significant and concerted effort by donors and governments, the targets will not be met -- a scenario of catastrophic consequences for the children. (excerpt)
Habitat Debate. 2002 Dec; 8(4): p..During the darkest days of the Taliban, when women were publicly executed for the most innocent “crimes” and when the gun was the only means of law enforcement, a silent revolution was taking place in cities and towns across Afghanistan. Since 1995, over 80 community-based organizations — many managed by women — in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Bamyan, Heart, Kandahar, Panjshir and Farah — have been running schools, health clinics and business enterprises, thereby providing a unique system of local self-governance in an extremely difficult and complex environment characterized by violence, fear and intimidation. “Our biggest challenge when we started this community development project was to get women involved in the community meetings,” says Samantha Reynolds, UNHABITAT’s Chief Technical Adviser to Afghanistan. “In consultation after consultation I became increasingly frustrated by the fact that there were no women present.” Ms. Reynolds was invariably the only woman in these meetings. (excerpt)
Population 2005. 2005 Mar-Apr; 4(1):11.After two decades of war that ravaged the country and five years of rule by the fundamentalist Taliban regime that curtailed the rights of women, lack of health care, education and opportunities for women are among the many challenges that now confront Afghanistan. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says it is moving fast to improve women’s health and social standing in Afghanistan. "When we asked for help in reconstructing an office for our ministry, UNFPA really acted quickly," says Dr. Sima Samar, minister for women’s affairs in Afghanistan’s interim administration. Speaking on International Women’s Day on March 8, Thoraya A. Obaid, UNFPA executive director, said: "In Afghanistan, after 23 years of conflict including five years of virtual house arrest, Afghan women are more than ready to restart their lives and rebuild their country. They deserve the world’s full support." (excerpt)
Human Rights Quarterly. 2004; 26:799-844.It is often supposed that international human rights standards were negotiated without active participation by Middle Eastern and Muslim states. That was not the case. United Nations records document the contributions of Arab and Muslim diplomats from 1946–1966. Diplomats from the Islamic world did not always agree with each other, but their various contributions resulted in the assertion of a right to self-determination, the most comprehensive statement of universality, culturally sensitive language about religious beliefs, and a separate article promoting gender equality. Initially they proposed robust mechanisms for implementation, and they actively opposed the isolation of socioeconomic rights into a separate covenant. Not all of their efforts were successful, and not all of their positions were liberal. While their role as participants and promoters of human rights should not be exaggerated, neither should it be discounted. (author's)
Gender, Technology and Development. 2004 Sep-Dec; 8(3):437-439.The Asia Pacific NGO Forum 2004 was held at Mahidol University, Salaya Campus, Thailand, from 30 June to 3 July 2004 to discuss the advancement of women in the region over the past 10 years. More than 700 women (and a few men) from 35 countries discussed the goals achieved since the Beijing conference in 1995 and the emerging issues in the advancement of gender equality. On the first day there was an opening ceremony followed by workshops and a film. Four plenary sessions and parallel workshops and seminars on the 12 areas highlighted by the Beijing Platform for Action were held during the workshop. Plenary sessions on four topics were organized: Celebrating Women's Gains, Confronting Women's Issues; Asian Women in Muslim Societies: Perspectives and Struggles; Transnational Women's Movements: Challenges and Future Politics in the Period of Globalization and War; and Women's Rights, Democracy, and the Challenges for Sustainable Development. There was considerable focus on the negative and positive aspects of globalization as seen in its impact on women and marginalized people and the enhancement of exchange of information, experiences, and solidarity of the women's movements. (excerpt)
JAMA. 2004 Apr 28; 291(16):1947-1948.Politics and rumors in Nigeria are threatening to derail efforts to finally eradicate poliomyelitis around the world. Smallpox is the only disease that has been completely banished from nature, and the goal of repeating such success with polio is tantalizingly close. In the past, polio paralyzed more than 350000 children in more than 125 countries annually. Last year, the disease was limited to just six countries-Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria, and Pakistan-and affected only 758 individuals. But cases are now being reported in countries surrounding Nigeria that were previously free of the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) blamed the spread of the infection on suspension of immunization campaigns last year in Nigeria's northern states. These areas are largely Islamic and, as reported by the British Broadcasting Channel and other media, some Muslim leaders suggested the vaccine was contaminated and would cause AIDS and infertility in women. Other published reports noted some Muslim leaders in northern Nigeria also believed that these vaccines were contaminated in an effort by the United States to decimate the Muslim population. (excerpt)
In: An agenda for people: the UNFPA through three decades, edited by Nafis Sadik. New York, New York, New York University Press, 2002. 113-135.The remarkable originality and achievements of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in September 1994, have sometimes been disregarded in the years since. Most fair-minded people acknowledge that ICPD succeeded in its main aims. But for those of us who participated in earlier population conferences and in the preparations for Cairo, it can be said to have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams -- in terms of its intent and programmatic content at least. In addition, it helped mobilize the population, health, women's rights and allied communities to shape a broad agenda for the population and related development fields for the next two decades. Of the three international conferences organized by the United Nations to help build world consensus on the need to address population issues, ICPD was by far the most successful, measured by numbers attending, levels and quality of delegates, international media attention, and the quality of the final consensus -- and an important watershed. After long preparation and vigorous debate, more than 180 countries agreed to adopt the 16-chapter ICPD Programme of Action. The 115-page document outlines a 20-year plan to promote sustainable, human-centred development and a stable population, framing the issues with broad principles and specific actions. The Cairo Programme of Action was not simply an updating of the World Population Plan of Action (WPPA), agreed to at Bucharest and revised at Mexico City, but an entirely fresh and original programme, calling for a major shift in strategies away from demographic goals and towards more individual human welfare and development ones. ICPD was the largest intergovernmental conference on population ever held: 11,000 representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations agencies and intergovernmental agencies participated, 4,000 NGOs held a parallel forum, and there was unprecedented media attention. ICPD was not just a single event, but an entire process culminating in the Cairo meeting. There were six expert group meetings, and regional conferences in Bali, Dakar, Geneva, Amman and Mexico City. There were many formal and informal NGO meetings and three official Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings. Other crucial influences came from the 1987 Safe Motherhood Conference, the 1990 World Summit for Children, the 1990 Jomtien World Conference on Education for All, and the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights. (author's)
Psychologie de l'Éducation. 2000; (3):163-169.This article sheds light on the role of breastfeeding in child development and on the psychological aspects of breastfeeding. Indeed, in addition to bringing to infants the nutrients necessary for their growth, and some elements necessary to the maturity and to the integrity maintenance of several physiologic systems, breastfeeding also brings them affection and love. For the newborn, the first contact with the world is through its mother's skin, and assuming the leading role in this primary function, the breast is associated with the first gestures of love. Between the mother and the child, a double relation takes place: the first is the feeding properly speaking, and the other consists of the ensemble of little gestures of care that accompany breastfeeding. Indeed, the infant feels the need to communicate with its mother and to exchange affection with her; the affection is communicated through the breast and the bottle cannot communicate affection. The changes experienced by the pregnant woman's body include preparation for milk production. This milk is rich in sugars, proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals. For a proper growth of the newborn, the mother must mobilize her own reserves in order to let them pass into the milk. In line with these ideas, the author of this article mentions several studies that have been conducted on maternal milk versus artificial milk with the intention of encouraging mothers to diversify their diet and sensitizing the pharmaceutical industry to the importance and the quality of the relation to the growth of infants. International health organizations have developed several study programs in various countries in order to draw up an inventory of the problems and to establish recommendations on the benefits. From a medical standpoint it is clear and obvious that breastfed children are less likely to contract infectious and digestive diseases in comparison to those fed with artificial milk. This fact is explained by the bacteriological purity of maternal milk. In addition it contains antibodies, immune cells, and bacteriostatic molecules inhibiting bacterial proliferation, while bottles prepared even with the greatest care are not able to prevent some infections. Consequently, WHO and UNICEF recommend breastfeeding children until they are at least two years old, given that the immune system does not reach full maturity before age five. And, in fact, the Koran recommended the same thing, long before them.
Female circumcision: strategies to bring about change. Proceedings of the International Seminar on Female Circumcision, 13-16 June 1988, Mogadisho, Somalia.
Rome, Italy, AIDOS, 1989. VIII, 148,  p.This book contains the proceedings of the 1988 International Seminar on Female Circumcision in Somalia. The first part relays the introductory addresses presented by the Assistant Secretary General of the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party, the Somali Minister of Health, the Italian Ambassador to Somalia, the World Health Organization's resident representative in Somalia, and the President of the Somali Women's Democratic Organization. Part 2 offers five reports on efforts towards international cooperation to eliminate female genital mutilation undertaken by North/South women's organizations, the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, the Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development, and the World Health Organization. Part 3 includes three reports on religious and legal aspects of female genital mutilation, and part 4 presents reports of eradication efforts ongoing in Egypt, Nigeria, the Gambia, and Sudan. The fifth part of the volume is devoted to six reports on aspects of the practice of female genital mutilation in Somalia as well as eradication efforts that involve an information campaign and training. Part 6 reprints the reports of the working groups on health, the law, training and information, and religion, and the final part covers the final resolutions and closing addresses by a UN Children's Fund representative, a representative of the UN Commission for Human Rights, and the Assistant Secretary General of the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party. The Inter-African Committee's Plan of Action for the Eradication of Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children in Africa, approved by the seminar, is contained in the first appendix, and a list of seminar participants is attached in the second.
[Unpublished] . , 101 p.This study was conducted by a working group of religious leaders from Al Azhar formed by request of UNICEF. The point of the study is to establish religious support of practical health care for children. The idea was endorsed by the religious leaders and a working groups was created to research the Koran in an effort to make the strongest possible theological case for child health care. 6 specific issues were to be supported: (1) immunization of children for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, polio, and tuberculosis; (2) treatment of diarrheal dehydration with oral rehydration therapy; (3) promoting improved health practices; (4) support for breastfeeding; (5) encouragement of early treatment of respiratory infections; (6) immunizing pregnant mothers for tetanus. A number of TV events were shown during the religious program (Fi Rihab El Iman) which concentrated on child protection and sound upbringing as well as how to effectively meet the child's needs before and after birth. The working groups produced 6 research papers that drew heavily from the Koran, hadiths and famous quotations. UNICEF supports issuing these papers together as a reference book for people in related fields. This booklet is a synthesis of the research papers and has been widely disseminated attention was paid to use very simple language so as to maximize its appeal and effect.
[Unpublished] 1986. 6 p. (WHO/CDD/CMT/86.1)This article presents an overview of current therapeutic practice as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) Diarrheal Disease Control Program. The recommendations apply solely to acute diarrheal disease in infants and children. Therapy for such cases is primarily concerned with the prevention or correction of dehydration, the maintenance of nutrition, and the treatment of dysentery. The various approaches to treatment considered are: 1) oral rehydration, which is highly effective for combating dehydration and its serious consequences, but does not diminish the amount or duration of diarrhea; 2) antimotility drugs, none of which are recommended for use in infants and children because the benefits are modest and they may cause serious side effects, such as nausea and vomiting; 3) antisecretory drugs, only a few of which have been properly studied in clinical trials, virtually all of which have important side effects, a low therapeutic index, and/or only modest efficacy. Consequently, none can at present be recommended for the treatment of acute infectious diarrhea in infants and children. 4) aciduric bacteria, on which conclusive evidence is still lacking; 5) adsorbents: kaolin and charcoal have been proposed as antidiarrheal agents in view of their ability to bind and inactivate bacterial toxins, but the results of clinical studies have been disappointing. 6) improved Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS): this may turn out to be the most effective and safest antidiarrheal drug. 7) antibiotics and antiparasitic drugs for a few infectious diarrheas (e.g., cholera). Antibiotics can significantly diminish the severity and duration of diarrhea and shorten the duration of excretion of the pathogen. No antibiotic or chemotherapeutic agent has proven value fort the routine treatment of acute diarrhea; their use is inappropriate and possibly dangerous. It is concluded that oral that oral rehydration is the only cost-effective method of treating diarrhea among infants and children.The Inter-African Committee's (IAC) work against harmful traditional practices is mainly directed against female circumcision. Progress towards this aim is achieved mostly through the efforts of th non governmental organizations (NGO) Working Group on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children and the IAC. In 1984 the NGO Working Group organized a seminar in Dakar on such harmful traditional practices in Africa. The IAC was created to follow up the implementation of the recommendations of the Dakar seminar. The IAC has endeavored to strengthen local activities by creating national committees in Benin, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Togo. IAC activities in each country are briefly described In addition, the IAC has created an anatomical model, flannelgraphs, and slides to provide adequate educational material for the training of medical staff in teaching hospitals and to make village women aware of the harmful effects of female circumcision. The IAC held 2 African workshops at the Nairobi UN Decade for Women Conference. The African participants recognized the need for international solidarity to fight female circumcision and showed a far more definite and positive difference in their attitude towards the harmful practice than was demonstrated at the Copenhagen Conference/ Forum of 1980. At the United Nations level, female circumcision is receiving serious consideration. A special Working Group has been set up to examine the phenomenon. Finally, this article includes a statement by a sheikh from the Al Azhar University in Cairo about Islam's attitude to female circumcision.
Conscience. 2002 Spring; 23(1):15-7, 42.During the UN Beijing Plus 5 conference in March 2000, both Catholics and Muslims were well represented at the proceedings. The progressive network included both religious and secular nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including: the Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network, the Girls' Power Initiative of Nigeria, Catholics for a Free Choice, the Albanian Family Planning Association, and the Ecumenical Women 2000+. On the other hand, the conservative network consisted of both religious and secular NGOs, including: the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, the World Family Policy Forum at Brigham Young University, the National Right to Life Committee, Concerned Women for America, the National Institute of Womanhood, Global Helping Advance Women and Children, and United Families International. It is noted that tensions between the conservative and progressive camps at the UN are always palpable and each camp regularly monitors the other's activities. A propensity on both sides to objectify the moral status of their opponents was also detected.
Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2000 Sep; 32(3):675-81.This paper describes the application of primary health care principles in the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It arose from a doctoral supervisory experience on a joint program for women students, operating between a British and Saudi Arabian University. The research looked at nutritional advice given by diploma-level nurses to pregnant women attending primary health care centers in Saudi Arabia. The supervisor supported research that drew on internationally recognized trends in nursing research (the reflexive learner) while attending to local requirements and conventions of the culture. The student was encouraged explicitly to site the research within the framework of Islamic teaching and Saudi culture. The Qur'an was used as an overarching framework within which the tenets of primary health care were explored. This was seen to be crucial in addressing WHO and the International Council of Nurses' views on contextualizing nursing for the greatest benefit of the population. This was of particular relevance in Saudi Arabia where research carried out in the community by women is novel, and as yet there are no nurse theorists from within Saudi culture. (author's)
Bethesda, Maryland, Sisterhood is Global Institute, 1996. , xiv, 168 p.This manual presents a multidimensional framework that allows grassroots Muslim women from various backgrounds to examine the relationship between their basic human rights as inscribed in major international documents and their culture. The introduction contains the manual's objective and background, the major international sources of women's rights, the major premises upon which the manual is based, the theoretical framework of the communication model (involving a communicator, an audience, a medium, and a message), the general structure of the model, and a note to facilitators. The next section presents the learning exercises that can be used by facilitators and participants to discuss women's rights 1) within the family; 2) to autonomy in family planning decisions; 3) to bodily integrity; 4) to subsistence; 5) to education and learning; 6) to employment and fair compensation; 7) to privacy, religious beliefs, and free expression; 8) during times of conflict; and 9) to political participation. Section 3 contains a workshop and facilitator evaluation form. Appendices contain auxiliary material such as relevant religious passages, descriptions of the first heroines of Islam, samples of Arabic proverbs concerning women, the text of international human rights instruments, and a list of various human rights and women's organizations in selected Muslim societies. The manual ends with an annotated bibliography.
The recommendations of the International Conference on Population and Development: the possibility of the empowerment of women in Egypt.
CORNELL INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL. 1996; 29(1):191-223.This paper opens by pointing out that Muslim support of the recommendations contained in the Program of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was gained only because ICPD participants agreed that individual country compliance would be limited by national constitutional statutes and religious doctrine. If Egypt interprets the ICPD's "full respect for ... religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds" to mean "limited by" these factors, Egyptian women will remain unable to control their fertility. After this introduction, the first section of the paper summarizes the ICPD recommendations. Part 2 describes Islamic notions of women's role in society, and the third part shows how these ideas are mirrored in Egyptian society through an analysis of the importance of family and motherhood, Egyptian sexual standards, the veiling of women, and female genital mutilation. Part 4 considers the Islamic influence on Egyptian law, and the fifth part outlines past Egyptian efforts to achieve equality between the sexes. The paper ends by presenting the reforms that Egypt will have to institute to implement the ICPD recommendations. These include eliminating laws that perpetuate traditional gender roles and sexual standards. Egypt will also have to promote education as a key to empowering women and implementing the ICPD recommendations. It is also noted that women's organizations must play a key role in the reform process and that the process must take Islamic law into account.
LINKS. 1997 Jun; 1-2.Under the Taliban, which took control of Kabul in Afghanistan in October 1996, Shari's law has been interpreted strictly; women cannot work outside the home, cannot be educated, and must wear the burkha. Professional and educated women have moved to Pakistan. According to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) 1995 figures, the literacy rate among women is 15%; among men it is 45%. This will only worsen if the education of girls is banned. International nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) report that interpretation of the law varies with district; girls under 10 years of age can attend school in some areas, and some Taliban commanders are more liberal than others. The 30,000 households headed by women will fall into poverty if the women cannot work and have no other means of support. Women's relationships outside the home will be determined entirely by men. Gender roles will change because men will now have to take over jobs women formerly performed outside the home: taking children to clinics, shopping, and collecting water. Women's support groups will collapse because visiting will be difficult and hospitality will be too expensive. International agencies have distributed food and provided work to women in their homes; men are used to communicate with the women. This has been done at risk. Oxfam UK/I, which cannot deliver quality humanitarian aid without working with both women and men, will attempt, through a witnessing and influencing strategy, to persuade the Taliban to become more moderate.
INTELIHEALTH NEWS (ON-LINE). 1997 Apr 10; 2 p.In April 1997, the UN announced that the UN Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, and the UN Population Fund have mounted a joint effort to create the crucial momentum to achieve elimination of female genital mutilation. Each year, 2 million girls undergo female genital mutilation, which involves partial or total excision of the external female genitalia usually by traditional practitioners wielding crude instruments. Female genital is a deeply-rooted traditional practice, which many communities believe is essential to initiate girls into womanhood. Other misconceptions include the notion that Islam requires such mutilation and that the practice increases fertility and the healthiness of offspring. The effects of female genital mutilation include pain, infection, urine retention, hemorrhage, death, sexual dysfunction, and psychological trauma.
The political and legal struggle over FGM in Egypt before and after the International Conference on Population and Development.
In: Intersections between health and human rights: the case of female genital mutilation, by Elizabeth Kirberger, Kate Randolph, Nahid Toubia. New York, New York, Research, Action and Information Network for Bodily Integrity of Women, 1995. 10-7.During a workshop on eradication of female genital mutilation, a speaker noted that female genital mutilation has become a highly political issue in Egypt since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Before the ICPD, female genital mutilation had no place in the Islamic agenda although the practice had received the attention of several nongovernmental organizations. Attitudes towards female genital mutilation are tied to larger views about women's status and to political attempts to control women and their sexuality. Airing of the CNN film depicting the mutilation of an Egyptian girl forced the government to denounce the practice and to promise the international community that it would work to eradicate it. After the ICPD, the Islamic organization Al-Azhar launched a campaign against the eradication of female genital mutilation in an attempt to squash any fledgling move toward women's liberation and to embarrass the government. The campaign depicted female genital mutilation as a part of Egypt's cultural identity which must be preserved to resist Western oppression and domination. Female genital mutilation was a safe issue for the Islamic groups to forward since they knew the government would be unsuccessful in using legislation to eradicate it. The Minister of Health responded to this pressure by proclaiming that female genital mutilation must be performed by physicians. The Grand Mufti, the official interpreter of Islamic law, simply referred the matter to physicians. Those in Egypt who are fighting to change women's status and attitudes can not afford further sensationalization of this issue. Rather than using legislation in a futile attempt to change attitudes, court cases have been entered as a tool to raise awareness about the way female genital mutilation has been used as a political tool. These court cases carry the risk of failure but action has been enjoined against the Minister of Health for violating the code of medical ethics and a 1959 ministerial degree forbidding the practice of female genital mutilation in public hospitals. The court case against Al-Azhar charges that the organization violated its mandate by issuing a fatwa claiming that female genital mutilation is part of Islam. Only the Mufti has the authority to issue a fatwa.
CANADIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY / CAHIERS CANADIENS DE SOCIOLOGIE. 1995 Winter; 20(1):81-90.An estimated 20,000 government delegates, UN representatives, nongovernment organizations, and media representatives participated in the 1994 UN Population Conference held in Cairo. Most UN conferences are carefully prearranged in a series of preparatory meetings, with the actual conferences simply being ceremonious occasions during which political leaders can read prepared scripts and sign a consensus document. The Cairo conference, however, was different. The Vatican and its Muslim country allies voiced their firm opposition to abortion, cohabitation without marriage, and sexual behavior which deviates from their religiously-prescribed norms. Secular leaders countered vigorously and the debate was on. This ideological conflict sparked an enormous amount of attention, both in the international media and through word of mouth. A compromise was eventually reached on wording which, without condemning abortion, stressed that abortion must not be considered a means of family planning. Conference officials may feel that the proceedings were out of control and a general waste of valuable conference time. On the contrary, however, a far greater international impact will be felt from this Cairo conference compared to other UN conferences without comparable controversy and international media attention. Had not the Pope and his Muslim country allies taken such a firm opposition stand to general consensus at the conference, proceedings would have rolled along without controversy, and the message of the event would have been disseminated little beyond official circles. The 1994 Cairo conference indeed contributed to a worldwide movement.
[The population debates of Cairo from an Islamic viewpoint] Die Bevolkerungsdebatte von Kairo aus muslimischer Sicht.
EUROPA ARCHIV. 1994 Dec 10; 49(23):667-74.This paper focuses on Islamic attitudes toward the population issues discussed at the International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in September 1994. (ANNOTATION)