A debate about female circumcision in Sudan took place on "Shabab Talk," a show on Germany's Arabic-language Deutsche Welle TV channel. During the debate, Sudanese Professor Muhammad Uthman Saleh said that he supports forms of female circumcision that only remove "a very small bit of the clitoris." Dr. Muhamad Muhedin Elgemiabby, who is the head of the Ana Assudan organization and who was present at the debate, said that there is no medical or scientific need to remove the clitoris, and that it "has no substantiation in the shari'a." Dr. Elgemiabby said that such a thing happens only in "backward societies." A female audience member said that female circumcision should be abolished by law, but Sudanese MP Al-Sadeq Abu Al-Bashar, who was also present, said that he opposes such a law on religious grounds. MP Al-Bashar said that Muslims must abide by their religion, and that the religious texts state that female circumcision is "medically beneficial to the woman and increases her beauty." The debate aired on September 25, 2018.
Following are excerpts:
Jaafar Abdul Karim: "I would like to ask Professor Uthman about female circumcision. Are you telling us today that female circumcision must be stopped immediately, and that women should not be circumcised?"
Professor Muhammad Uthman Saleh: "I don't want to confuse the viewers, but I will have to say: Yes and no. All forms of circumcision that include the amputation of the female genitalia are haram and forbidden, but there is a form of circumcision about which the scholars disagree. It is the reduction of the woman's [clitoris], in a way that does not include the removal of the genitalia. Some scholars say that this is acceptable."
Jaafar Abdul Karim: "And what is your own position?"
Professor Saleh: "With regard to the first form of circumcision – I support the prohibition and criminalization of the removal of the genitalia."
Jaafar Abdul Karim: "And what about the second form of circumcision?"
Professor Saleh: "Fifty-fifty..."
Female Debate Participant: "Why, Sheikh? Why do you support this?"
Jaafar Abdul Karim: "Wait, wait, wait..."
Professor Saleh: "Let me tell you honestly. It's not something I have an unequivocal opinion about, but I've heard some women... With your permission..."
Jaafar Abdul Karim: "No, with your permission... You said fifty-fifty. You said it yourself. I have met girls, about whom you say 'fifty-fifty,' who suffer on a daily basis. They suffer pain when they get their periods..."
Professor Saleh: "You are wrong, brother. There is something called 'reduction' you don't know about, because you are not Sudanese. Reduction is the removal of a very small bit of the clitoris. I have asked some women and they said to me: By God, the removal of that bit brings purity, cleanliness, and pleasure."
Dr. Mohamed Muhedim Elgemiabby: "I am Dr. Mohamed Muhedin Elgemiabby, head of the Ana Assudan organization."
Jaafar Abdul Karim: "What do you say? Is [FGM justifiable] from a medical perspective, like Prof. Uthman said."
Dr. Elgemiabby: "There is no need whatsoever to remove the clitoris or anything else. I'm saying this from a scientific perspective. I used to have a show on TV. I had on the show a female doctor who claimed female circumcision is permissible. She could not provide any evidence. We oppose on medical grounds the amputation of any part of the female body. It is extremely harmful and has no substantiation in the shari'a. I personally... My daughters are doctors, engineers, and also the little ones... We have no such thing as FGM in our nuclear or extended family. Such a thing occurs only in backward societies. Let me tell you something. FGM must be dealt with by spreading awareness, not by legal means."
Jaafar Abdul Karim: "Forty-one percent of women say that they support female circumcision."
Dr. Elgemiabby: "They are the ignorant ones. We doctors are speaking now. No woman should subject her daughter to the crime of female circumcision. I'm a doctor. You cannot imagine how many circumcised girls come to me with all kinds of diseases... By the way, we had a religious scholar on TV once, and he said that uncircumcised girls are impure and smell different. That man is an ignoramus!"
Female Audience Member: "Spreading awareness is very important, but it also takes a long time, and in the meantime, there are girls who are undergoing circumcision. The law must abolish this completely. Even if a single girl undergoes circumcision, there should be a law to protect her. No girl deserves to go through this."
Jaafar Abdul Karim: "How come there is still no such law?"
Female Audience Member: "This question should be directed at the MPs. What's the delay?"
Jaafar Abdul Karim: "We have an MP here. You oppose such a law. Why?"
Al-Sadeq Abu Al-Bashar: "I oppose it on religious grounds. First of all, we must distinguish between harmful circumcision and circumcision according to the Sunna. The religious jurists have ruled about this. We are Muslims and must abide by the teachings of our religion. There are clear religious texts that say that Sunni circumcision is medically beneficial to the woman and increases her beauty."