Female Genital Mutilation: A Woman’s Right to Reject it over Religious Cultural Rights
Posted on November 5th, 2017

Shenali D Waduge

Why was Sharmila Seyyid’s invitation to the Tamil Literature Conference revoked? Simple answer is because she spoke openly against the prevalence of female genital mutilation among the Muslim community. We are boasting of democracy but the reality is that this lady who was officially invited to speak at the conference had her invitation cancelled because of influence by Muslim men in the organizing committee who supported FGM! So much for transparency in literature! Sharmila’s research on FGM is extensive and covers Muslim communities living in Mawanella, Akurana, Batticoloa, Ampara, Trincomalee and Puttalam with a child no more than 40 days old becoming victim to the blade! Muslim ladies should not be afraid to come out and go against new religious cultural trends that are harmful to women’s bodies.

It is surprising that while some Muslim women are averse to FMG there are some Muslim ladies who promote it. Why? Many of those who promote it believe it is part and parcel of being a Muslim? How right are they and if so why does it have to be carried out in secret even from a father? The other Muslim women against it believe it is a cultural insertion and has nothing to do with being Muslim. Two schools of thought in conflict no doubt. The health experts in WHO say that FGM can have serious health impacts on women years later. According to WHO it is a violation of a child’s right to health, security & physical integrity.

The All Ceylon Jaamiyathul Ulema issued a fatwa in 2007 stating it is obligatory for Muslim women but for some strange reason removed it from their website. However, the attached document given below is proof they issued it (it is in Tamil). The fatwa however still stands and local Muslim women are obliged to get themselves circumcised because of it. In fact, they could be forced to be circumcised since it is from the highest religious authority of Sri Lankan Muslims. We reliably learn that Non-Muslim women who marry Muslim men are also forced to endure the operation as adults, often without anaesthetics.

The recent article FGM raises its ugly head in Sri Lanka with Kerala Support by Bintari Hamza Zafar is important for many reasons as FGM is now being promoted with involvement of Islamic clerics in Kerala, India. A wholly wrong and distorted campaign is being promoted that women who do not practice FGM are unclean and likely to spread AIDS and other diseases. If that be so then all non-Muslim women should be suffering from AIDS! According to Bintari the practice is being openly promoted by female and male Islamic scholars at Wahhabi Arabic Ladies Colleges for Muslim girls in Malwana and Kal-Eliya. This type of extremism is totally against the cultural fabric prevalent in the country and is promoting extreme forms of religious cultures that are detrimental to the wellbeing of females.

An Indian NGO by the name of Sahiyo has exposed how the practice in Kerala is targeting poor and lower middle class Muslims. This type of ritual is common in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and parts of the Middle East but in this day and age should we be following such tribal cultures?



One wonders why there is a concerted effort to have Muslim women circumcised and that too by extremist Islamic religious scholars. What is confusing is that there are Muslim scholars who say that it is more of a cultural thing than a religious thing, Others who are extremely religious say it is an obligatory duty which every Muslim woman must go through. Yet no one is courageous enough to pinpoint the dangers and risks involved for the women both physically and mentally. Should these factors not be taken up for discussion first. A woman’s body should not have to go through any torment or torture just to satisfy the ideological beliefs of men who are following religious traditions without questioning the essence and the logic behind the call.


Shenali D Waduge


2 Responses to “Female Genital Mutilation: A Woman’s Right to Reject it over Religious Cultural Rights”

  1. samurai Says:

    This is so-called multiculturalism! What hypocrisy and double standards. Where are human rights? I think the Muslim community needs a leader like Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. After coming to power he declared that henceforth only prostitutes would be allowed to wear Burkas or face veils. That promptly ended Turkish women covering their faces.

  2. Vaisrawana Says:

    Thank you Shenali for this enlightening article. Your boldness in calling a spade a spade is praiseworthy. FGM is a particularly vicious instance of Islamic misogyny. It can be described as punishing women in their infancy or childhood for potential (not actual) future ‘misbehaviour’ (due, as Muslim extremists would argue, to the alleged uncontrollable sex urge that women are supposed to be born with that would incline them to be unfaithful to their husbands)! Apologists may argue that its prevalence is more due to culture than to religion. However, scores of similar obnoxious practices in Islam can be traced to its dogmatic texts.

    All religions are false, irrational, and hence basically immoral. Even their ethical codes are essentially flawed, for though sympathetic critics could cite their ethical teachings as justification for allowing them to survive in civilized societies as established of sources of emotional succor in usually stressful mundane living, social cohesion and security, and as benign restraints on possible antisocial behavior of some individual members, religious moral principles are not necessarily ethical; believing in harmful fictions in the name god is not ethical. Fundamentalist Islam is the worst in this respect. Its abominable treatment of women, its murderous intolerance towards people of other beliefs, apostates and alleged blasphemers, dissembling and resorting to deception in dealing with non-Muslims, are unquestionably immoral; but such crimes are justified as god ordained. However, these are usually regarded as taboo subjects to broach even by non-Muslims, non-believing Muslims, or former Muslims due to actual Islamic terror. So-called Islamophobia is a myth created to preempt valid criticism of patent lies of the religion.

    My opinion is that other journalists must take up this subject so that intrepid writers like Shenali would not be left in vulnerable isolation. They can’t be attacked ideologically, though. Similarly, mor and more Muslim women like Sharmila Seyyid must be encouraged to explore the culturally and physically cloistered lives their sisters are condemned to live in the name of a religion that allows the savage custom to survive.

    Now the Tamil Literature Conference is sure to have more Hindu Tamil than Muslim women. Why should that secular organization pander to the unreasonable demands of a minority of its members? Shenal’s article suggests, unintentionally though, the shape of things to come in a divided Sri Lanka, where Muslim fundamentalists are sure to cause trouble to the infidel (non-Muslim) majority that will comprise particularly Tamil Hindus and Sinhalese Buddhists. These two communities will then be forced to unite to defeat the common enemy. Federalists must be mindful of this. They must also win the support of the rational moderate (non-extremist) Muslims who are the overwhelming majority among the traditional Muslims in this country.

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