“Why did they do it to us? I will never do this to my daughter.” As the world marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) this week, SAT-7 viewers and programs are speaking out against this devastating practice, which affects almost 50 million girls and women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
In a live call to SAT-7 ARABIC women’s program Today Not Tomorrow, a woman from Upper Egypt shared her experience. “They thought it was important for chastity. But it was very bad for us. They told us to listen only and not talk, eat what is offered to us even if we don’t like it, and to be silent even if we hear something we don’t agree with.”
The call came in an episode focused on grandmothers and how their experiences compare to those of their daughters and granddaughters. The presenters sympathized with the caller and explained how these unhealthy traditions were rife and affected women in many households.
The practice of FGM has been passed down for generations in some countries of the Middle East and many parts of Africa. Although the procedure is harmful for the short and long term health of girls and women, many families still put their daughters through it in the belief that FGM is a religious requirement.
FGM refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. According to UNICEF, almost 50 million girls and women in the MENA have undergone FGM, with most cases in Egypt and Sudan. 
Today Not Tomorrow is challenging accepted cultural and religious practices, such as FGM, that perpetuate the mistreatment of women, and is equipping them to think critically about their core beliefs. It is part of a major five-year Gender Equality and Freedom of Religion or Belief (FORB) project. 
Another program on SAT-7 ARABIC has also recently tackled the difficult subject of FGM. The Heritage explains how Jesus’ teachings bear upon different contemporary topics with the aim of correcting common wrong perceptions about what the Bible says.
In the episode on FGM, Pastor Youssef Samir was very clear about the Christian perspective. “Sometimes people use religion to justify the crime of female circumcision. It is nothing less than a crime. Nothing in the Bible mentions female circumcision,” he said. “Jesus doesn’t agree to anything that would demean the value of people. Female genital mutilation demeans women.”
The episode also featured an interview with a psychologist, Dr Eman Saddik, who explained the impact of the practice on girls and family relationships. “Unfortunately, parents trick their daughters into the surgery. They buy her things and promise her things before the surgery as if she is going to a party. After that she comes face to face with her physical pain, bleeding, and emotional distrust in her family.”
Several SAT-7 programs have addressed the subject of FGM over many years, interviewing victims to share their stories, and inviting experts to explain the damaging effects on the women who undergo the procedure.
As the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is marked this week (6 February), please pray for an end to this dangerous and dehumanizing practice.