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Malaysia Ministry Reclassifies Female Genital Mutilation As Medical Practice


May 9, 2006
Debate is raging in Malaysia over Muslim female genital mutilation as the country's health ministry reportedly develops guidelines to reclassify it as a medical practice.
In 2009, the Fatwa Committee of Malaysia's National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs ruled that "female circumcision", as it has become known, was obligatory for Muslims but if harmful must be avoided.
Human rights activist Azrul Mohamad Khalib has written a scathing commentary calling for abolition of the practice.
He says it has no religious or medical benefits.
But according to the results of a university survey the practice is widespread, with more than 90 per cent of Malay Muslim female respondents reporting they have been circumcised.
Azrul Mohamad Khalib told Radio Australia's Connect Asia: "It certainly is a surprising figure, really. The study involves more than 1,000 female respondents and when we look at it, around 90 per cent or so are Malay Muslims."

Azrul Mohamad Khalib is also communications and resource mobilisation adviser of the SPRINT project with the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
He said that to have anecdotal evidence "captured" in the study is really "both surprising and a little bit disappointing".
What about the suggestion that the health ministry may be about to register the practice?
He said: "One of the things I find quite alarming with regards to this development is that the Ministry of Health is actually depending on a fatwa, a religious opinion that was actually issued by the national fatwa council, in which they made it obligatory, or 'wajib', for all Muslim women to be circumcised.
"It seems that the Ministry of Health is now (instituting) that fatwa.
"So, in contrary to quite a number of best practices as well as a WHO (World Health Organisation) advisory, the Ministry of Health is taking steps now to sort of make it standardised, or medicalised, in such a way that it might be applied to all public health-care facilities."
At the moment the practice is carried out generally by traditional practitioners, as well as private health practitioners, the activist said.
"One of the things that those working on gender issues in Malaysia have come to realise is that a barrier when we deal with these sort of issues is the lack of awareness - the 'why' of such practices and how harmful it can be.
"Certainly when it comes to female circumcision, the position that has been taken is that if it does do no harm why not do it? Well . . . if there are no benefits to doing it, why do it?
"One of the first steps that we are trying to push out forward is that we are very much trying to spread awareness that such practices are unnecessary.
"They're not required by religion, they're not having any medical benefits whatsoever and certainly when we look at it it's strictly cultural in its entirety.
"But as you mentioned, it is going to be extremely hard if more than 90 per cent of the Malay Muslim population already practising it."

Source: http://www.muslimwomennews.com/n.php?nid=7023

When will people just leave well and good alone? It's a disgusting practice and disappointing that people in the 21st century still insist it's a good idea.
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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
How frightened are people that they feel they must implement and enforce beliefs and practices that are primitive ... or is that my own bias speaking? Maybe it is not primitive to violate the physical and emotional space of another human being. If social pressure to undergo this procedure is so great that even the girls want to have it done, what good is my bias? Does a girl have the opportunity to chose? I don't think so. Even in situations where most seek this procedure, there are some girls, and parents of those girls, who would like to opt out but have a problem doing so.

Read about Waris Dirie author of Desert Flower and victim of female genital mutilation



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