Ayaan Hirsi Ali, refugee from radical Islam, quoted in an excellent article by Christopher Hitchens: "I left the world of faith, of genital cutting and forced marriage for the world of reason and sexual emancipation. After making this voyage I know that one of these two worlds is simply better than the other. Not for its gaudy gadgetry, but for its fundamental values."
In the Winter 2007 issue of the Middle East Quarterly, Thomas von der Osten-Sacken and Thomas Uwer have an excellent article on the brutal subject of female genital mutilation in the Islamic world, citing some shocking figures, for example: 97% of girls in Egypt are mutilated in this way. They write, "Among social activists and feminists, combating female genital mutilation (FGM) is an important policy goal. Sometimes called female circumcision or female genital cutting, FGM is the cutting of the clitoris of girls in order to curb their sexual desire and preserve their sexual honor before marriage. The practice, prevalent in some majority Muslim countries, has a tremendous cost: many girls bleed to death or die of infection. Most are traumatized. Those who survive can suffer adverse health effects during marriage and pregnancy. New information from Iraqi Kurdistan raises the possibility that the problem is more prevalent in the Middle East than previously believed and that FGM is far more tied to [the Muslim] religion than many Western academics and activists admit."
The authors give the example of Iraqi Kurdistan, where "Midwives often perform the operation with unsterilized instruments or even broken glass and without anesthesia on girls four to twelve years old. The extent of mutilation depends on the experience of the midwife and the luck of the girl. The wound is then treated with ash or mud with the girls then forced to sit in a bucket of iced water. Many Kurdish girls die, and others suffer chronic pain, infection, and infertility. Many say they suffer symptoms consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder syndrome. [...] Most women referred to the practice as both a tradition and a religious obligation. When asked why they subject their daughters to the operation, many women respond "it has always been like that." Because the clitoris is considered to be "dirty" (haram, the connotation is forbidden by religion), women fear that they cannot find husbands for their daughters if they have not been mutilated; many believe men prefer sex with a mutilated wife."