Put stop to female circumcision, SIS urges govt

Sisters In Islam says female genital mutilation is forbidden in several countries. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: Sisters In Islam (SIS) has voiced disappointment over Putrajaya’s continued support for female circumcision despite the fact the practice is not mentioned in the Quran.

In an email interview with FMT in conjunction with International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the NGO referred to the government’s reiteration that FGM, which includes female circumcision, is part of Malaysian culure.

This, it said, was mentioned in Malaysia’s reporting of the Universal Periodic Review in November 2018.

FGM is a procedure of cutting or removing some or all of the external female genitalia. SIS says two of the four types of FGM classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are practised in Malaysia.

Type 1, it said, involved the partial or total removal of the clitoris and or the fold of skin surrounding it, while Type 4 involves harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes.

This includes pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterisation.

“FGM is done out of religious belief and cultural obligation. Islam did not introduce circumcision of girls as a practice for Muslims, and female circumcision can be traced back to pre-Islamic traditions,” it said.

It said that Dar al-Ifta al Misriyyah, which is among the pillars of the religious foundations in Egypt, alongside Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, Al-Azhar University and the country’s religious endowments ministry, even declared all forms of FGM to be religiously forbidden in May 2018.

“It further said that banning FGM should be a religious duty of all Muslim countries due to its harmful effects on the body,” it said.

SIS said many Muslim majority countries did not practise FGM, including Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

A stumbling block to its eradication here, it said, was the understanding of many Muslims on female circumcision who believe that it is “wajib” (mandatory) and part of culture.

“What is more concerning is the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) 2009 fatwa stating that female circumcision (FC) is mandatory.

“Even though this fatwa was not gazetted, the reality is that in general, fatwas have a strong influence over individuals and communities in their personal decision-making,” it said.

The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy meanwhile said that from a health perspective, there is no scientific data or medical evidence which justifies the need or benefits of FGM.

Its CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib said FGM was unlike male circumcision which has “clear, demonstrable benefits”, including improved hygiene and in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

“If there is no medical benefit, no religious obligation or any benefit whatsoever to performing female circumcision, then why do it?”

He said there was a health ministry circular which prohibits female circumcision in all public facilities.

“The ministry should extend that prohibition to all healthcare facilities, private and public.

“We should prohibit and criminalise the act of female circumcision to protect our infant daughters and girls from harm,” Azrul said.