Women NGOs urge govt to ban female genital mutilation


PETALING JAYA: Two women non-governmental organisations have once again urged the government to ban female genital mutilation by enforcing laws that protect a woman’s rights.

“Malaysia should ban female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and work with health and religious authorities as well as with the community to end the practice imme­diately.

“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 yesterday.

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 UN’s 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 can endanger their health and well-being,” she said.

Sivananthi added that even CEDAW committee members from Muslim countries such as Egypt have asked the government to revisit its 2009 decision by the National Fatwa Committee.

Meanwhile, 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 the modern Islamic world has made a clear stance that FGM has a “clear harm factor and is categorically unIslamic”.

Previously, the government had reaffirmed its stand that female circumcision was part of Malaysian culture.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had said that female circumcision in Malaysia was unlike the forms that were practised in some African countries, adding that it was also cultural.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, had 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 which included pricking or nicking of the genitals.