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Mauritanian Muslim Leaders Ban Female Circumcision

A group of 30 Mauritanian Muslim leaders have issued a religious edict banning female genital mutilation in the West African country.

Cheikh Ould Zein, head of the Forum of Islamic Thought, says the scholars believe the Koran does not endorse cutting young girls' genitals to limit their sexual activity as women. He said Monday that the leaders also agreed to preach against the practice at their mosques.

The process, also called female circumcision, is common in parts of Africa and involves the surgical removal of the clitoris or other genital parts. The procedure is often performed by women with little or no medical training. It can eliminate pleasure for women during sex and cause lasting pain and complications in childbirth.