Sharia which is Islamic law provides for differences between role, rights, and obligations of men and women. Though does the Quran or Hadith mention that women have to be housewives. In majority Muslim countries women exercise varying degrees of rights with regards to marriage, divorce, civil rights, legal status, dress code, and education based on different interpretations.
A high value is placed on female chastity. To protect women from accusations of unchaste behavior, the scripture lays down severe punishments towards those who make false allegations about a woman's chastity. However, in some societies, an accusation is rarely questioned and the woman who is accused rarely has a chance to defend herself in a fair and just manner.
Female genital mutilation or FGM has been erroneously associated with Islam. In fact it is practiced predominantly in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where in certain areas it has acquired a religious dimension due to the justification that the practice is used to ensure female chastity.
Female genital mutilation or female circumcision as it is sometimes known is defined by the World Health Organization as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons." It is practiced mainly in 28 countries in western, eastern, and north-eastern Africa, particularly Egypt and Ethiopia, and in parts of Asia and the Middle East. The World Health Organization estimates that 140 million women and girls around the world have experienced it, including 101 million in Africa.
FGM is typically carried out between the ages of 4 and puberty, although it may be conducted on younger infants and adults. It may take place in a hospital, but is usually performed without anesthesia by a traditional circumciser using a knife, razor or scissors. The practice is rooted in gender inequality, cultural identity, ideas about purity, modesty, aesthetics, status and honor, and attempts to control women's sexuality by reducing their sexual desire, thereby promoting chastity and fidelity. In communities that practice it, it is typically supported by both women and men.
The World Health Organization offers four classifications of FGM. Type I usually refers to removal of the clitoris and clitoral hood. Type II is removal of the clitoris and inner labia. Type III involves the removal of all or part of the inner and outer labia, and usually the clitoris, and the fusion of the wound; a small hole is left for the passage of urine and menstrual blood, and the wound is opened for intercourse and childbirth. Around 85% of women who undergo FGM experience Types I and II. Type III is the most common procedure in Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan, and in parts of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Mali. Type IV refers to miscellaneous procedures such as symbolic piercing of the clitoris or labia, cauterization of the clitoris, and cutting into the vagina to widen it.
Religious views on FGM have often been highly critical. Evidence suggests that FGM might be a cultural relic from pre-monotheistic African tribal religions, given that the practice is mentioned as far back as 163 BC. Muslim scholars have often been divided on whether it should be considered as a non-religious traditional custom, or whether it should be specifically condemned by religious authorities.
In Islamic texts, FGM is referred to as