In certain parts of Africa, female genital mutilation (FGM) has been linked to religion, with Muslim communities mistakenly believing that the practice is a religious requirement. But in Côte d’Ivoire, religion is also being put at the service of fighting FGM.

El Hadj Kassoum Traoré, an imam at a small mosque in Belleville — one of the poorer areas in the commercial hub of Abidjan — sets aside time during the Friday prayer for explaining the dangers of FGM to worshippers. The weekly prayer is an obligation for able Muslim men.

Since beginning his battle against FGM almost two months ago, Traoré has also called on believers to refrain from having their daughters mutilated, and to condemn those who practise FGM — sometimes referred to as female circumcision. In addition, he has asked circumcisors to stop carrying out FGM.

Each week, Traoré meets elders from the Muslim community of the area to debate circumcision.

“The practice of excision isn’t authorised anywhere in the Qur’an or the Bible,” he says. “This is a traditional and customary practice … But the risks [of FGM] are such that we must think of putting an end to it.” (MORE)


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