A UN report published on 25 July claimed that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (better known as the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS), planned to make 4 million women and girls undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Mosul area. ISIS, however, denied this claim. Today, over 125 million girls and women have undergone the gruesome operation, ridding them of their external genitalia.

FGM is sometimes known as female circumcision, but it is far more painful and harmful than the removal of the foreskin from the penis. The World Health Organisation has identified four different types of FGM, ranging from the removal of the clitorial hood, to the removal of all external genitalia and sowing the vaginal gap almost closed. The operation is often executed using an old-fashioned razor blade, with or without disinfectants or  anesthesia. Though the ritual is pre-Islamic (it has occurred in 19th century Christian communities) and it is performed in Coptic communities and is even heard of in Jewish groups, the phenomenon is often associated with Islam, despite the fact that there is no mention of FGM in the Quran, or the Bible, because of the conservative views many Muslims have on women. The ideology for women in Islam is for them to be humble and sheltered. The ritual of female circumcision has a mainly local and cultural origin, and is most common in Arab areas.

The Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant is a military bond that is more and more considered to be a state (though unrecognised by the UN), and they are gaining power as more Arab Muslims tend to agree with the bond’s conservative views. Isis is considered to be one of the most extreme Jihad terrorist groups, which urges the world to live by Al-Qaeda rules, and sees itself as a Salafi movement, claiming authority over all Muslims worldwide. Its conservative views concerning sex make it an easy target for allegations regarding FGM.

FGM often causes serious harm to a woman’s body, as the operations are executed in a very amateur manner, and it deals with a very sensitive area. Apart from that, women do not have a say in whether or not they want to undergo the operation, and it is very unsanitary. Human Rights Watch says: “FGM violates women’s and children’s human rights, including their rights to health, to be free from violence, to life and physical integrity, to non-discrimination, and to be free from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.” The treatment is irreversible and serves no health or safety purpose. The procedure is sometimes executed right after a girl is born, and over half of the girls living with FGM, were mutilated when they were younger than 5 years old.

Because of menstrual flow, urine, sexual intercourse and childbirth, women who have undergone type 3 FGM, where the vaginal opening is sown together entirely or partially, have to go through the treatment several times. The vaginal gap and external genitalia have a purpose for the female body, and harming those body parts is a massive breach of numerous rights women have.

There are major cultural and religious differences between Isis and Western countries, but FGM violates international human rights. Not only Isis, but all countries that apply the treatment to women and children are harming actual people in a physical and mental way. The idea that FGM “protects” women from sexual harassment and their own desires is a poor excuse to oppress them on a massive scale.