The Star Online
4 Feb 2019
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia should ban female genital mutilation (FGM) and work with health and religious authorities, as well as the community, to end the practice, says two women non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
“We appeal to the government to enforce laws that protect a woman’s right to bodily integrity and autonomy, ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Feb 6,” the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (Arrow) and Sisters in Islam (SIS) said in a joint statement on Monday (Feb 4).
Arrow executive director Sivananthi Thanenthiran said FGM has long lasting physical and psychological effects on girls.
“Continuing the practice means further eroding Malaysia’s human rights record.“We call on the government to abolish the practice and implement the recommendations of the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) Committee and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
“All Malaysian girls and women deserve to grow up free from harmful practices that endanger their health and well-being,” she said.Sivananthi added that even Cedaw committee members from Muslim countries such as Egypt have asked the Malaysian government to revisit its 2009 decision by the National Fatwa Committee.
SIS executive director Rozana Isa said Islam did not introduce circumcision of girls to the world, adding that the practice can be traced back to pre-Islamic traditions.
Nevertheless, Rozana said that the modern Islamic world has made a clear stance that FGM has a “clear harm factor and is categorically un-Islamic”.
The government had previously reaffirmed its stand that female circumcision was part of Malaysian culture.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said that female circumcision in Malaysia was unlike the extreme FMG practised in some African countries.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said that her Ministry would look into the issue.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes FGM 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”.
In Malaysia, the most prevalent form of FGM among Muslims is Type I, where the clitoral hood is removed.
Some practise Type IV, a ritual form that includes pricking or nicking of the genitals.