74 Y/O Sudanese Man Unlikely Advocate For Ending Female Genital Mutilation

female-genital-mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation is one of the most horrific crimes against a human body, and while it is something that definitely needs to be stopped, it won’t just take legislation and criminal punishment to stop cultures and communities in certain areas of the world practicing this unnecessary evil. It will also take a lot of education and communities coming together to change their traditions internally, so they recognize the dangers of why the world wants this stopped.

We often report on major campaigns around the world working to stop this practice and educate people who still advocate the procedure, but we are happy to report the story of a man within one of the cultures, who still forces female circumcision on its young girls, who is actually trying to stop this abomination.

His name is Sheikh Mohamed Saeed, he is 74 and he is a leader in the Wad Sharefai Refugee Camp in Kassala, Sudan, according to the UNFPA. According to a health survey in 2010, roughly 88% of Sudanese women and girls aged 15-49 have been subjected to FGM, which is a hell of a lot of females.

There are numerous health risks associated with FGM including excessive bleeding, hemorrhaging, complications with reproductive organs and in some extreme cases, death.

Typically men don’t get involved in matters of FGM, they leave it to the elderly women to lead the way, but Sheikh Mohamed was sick of witnessing this awful practice go on and decided to speak up in an attempt to change things.

“For a long time I had the feeling that our women are suffering from the different types of violence, however, I thought life is like this,” he said.

Sheikh-Mohamed

In December 2013, Mr. Saeed was selected to attend a training on FGM, organized by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and supported by UNFPA. The training addressed all aspects of the issue, including the reasons it is performed, the human rights concerns underlying the practice, as well as its consequences.

“After the trainings and the information I got exposed to, and the tough discussions we had through the course of all this, I said to myself, how can a man be a leader without taking such a challenge and fighting for positive change?” Mr. Saeed said.

He is now an ardent advocate for the abandonment of FGM and has become a champion for change for the women in his community. He goes around to mosques speaking to his people about why FGM needs to be stopped and even challenges those who question his mission. Sheikh Mohamed is especially urging religious leaders to take the lead on this issue.

Recognizing the ability of men to influence the practice, Mr. Saeed has set up a men’s network in the camp, through which he and other male leaders advocate ending FGM.

“It is never too late,” Mr. Saeed told UNFPA. “We can always do something to make a change.”

And UNFPA, in partnership with Kassala University’s faculty of community development, is working with local women’s organizations to raise awareness of the dangers of FGM. The women’s groups also advocate for the elimination of child marriage and domestic violence as well.

We’re pretty blown away by this story and have more hope than ever that if a well-respected male Muslim leader can take a stand against injustice toward women, there is no reason why others shouldn’t.

female-genital-mutilation

 

Sheikh Mohamed Saeed

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