Calls to medicalise female circumcision grow
Posted on September 19th, 2018

Fatima Yasmin 

Muslim religious organisations in Sri Lanka have called on the government to ‘medicalise’ female circumcision to ensure the procedure is done under hygienic conditions. In their submission before the Parliamentary Committee on Women and Gender early this month, the Muslim groups stated that the Muslim community was very concerned about moves to ban the procedure on the grounds that it was Female Genital Mutilation.

Spokeswoman Noor Hazeema Haris said that although Muslims wholeheartedly supported the abolition of traditional practices harmful to women and children such as FGM, the Islamic practice of female circumcision was very different.

She pointed out that female circumcision practiced by Muslims was a very minor procedure similar to male circumcision where the prepuce of the clitoris was removed. It is something that is arranged and done by women. Those who say this is male oppression against women are mistaken. It is we who do it just like our mothers and grandmothers and countless generations of our women have done. We continue to practice it because we know it benefits us. Even educated Muslim women support it wholeheartedly”, she said, adding If as medical complications have arisen among some women circumcised by Osthamamis (traditional female circumcisors without medical training) as alleged by women’s rights groups, it is all the more reason to medicalise the procedure instead of prohibiting it, which will only drive the procedure underground and put girls and women at unnecessary risk”.

The move is a very dangerous one since it could lead to greater acceptability of FGM among the country’s Muslims. There have been many complaints raised against the traditional practitioners including use of unsterile instruments and harming the clitoris in some cases. However the solution is to ban it altogether rather than medicalising it.

But analysts warn this could lead to an uproar from religious parties and have political implications since parties that come out against FGM risk losing a large and influential Muslim vote bank. The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, an organization of religious scholars issued a fatwa in 2008 stating that female circumcision was obligatory, and were among the parties that made representations to medicalise the practice early this month.

It is a also matter of concern to women’s rights groups that the said Parliamentary committee agreed to accommodate the representations and requested that medical evidence be submitted to prove that female circumcision of the type prescribed in Islam causes no harm and benefits women as stated by the representatives.

A female doctor who performed the procedure before a health ministry circular came into effect last month prohibiting medical professionals from performing it, and whose name has been withheld here at her request, said that she welcomed the move to medicalise it. I performed about 25 circumcisions a day in a private clinic, mostly infants. But there were women too. Some were newly married and wanted to be circumcised at their husbands’ request. All I do is remove a little bit of skin covering the clitoris. I use a very fine instrument for the babies. It takes only a few minutes. In the case of adults, I inject an anaesthetic before proceeding to circumcise them. My patients tell me it’s only the injection that hurts a bit and that after that they don’t feel a thing. It’s sore for a few days, but heals fast. There is a huge demand for this service. It’s a shame that its now going back into the hands of untrained women who have no proper medical knowledge and who use unsterilized instruments for the purpose.”.

A young mother who had her infant daughter circumcised by a traditional practitioner also agreed. Doctors refuse to do this now, and I was forced to get it done by an Osthamami. She took out a blade which looked as if it had been used many times and made a cut to my daughter’s genitals. Some blood came out. I could not bear to look. Later I checked it and noticed a cut had been made in the skin over the clitoris but the foreskin had not been removed. This is an improper circumcision according to my sister who is an Aalimah (Religious scholar) and so I will have to get her circumcised again. Why are these so-called women’s groups against doctors doing it? We will practice it whether they ban it or not” she said irately.

However a member of a prominent women’s organization said that prohibiting the practice is the right thing to do. FGM has been condemned as a violation of the rights of women and girl children by the World Health Organisation. WHO makes no distinction between FGM and the type of circumcision practiced here. It’s all the same. How can you cut these girls and call it a religious obligation. I understand there is a strong religious argument for the practice, but we cannot let religion affect the health of girls and women”, she added.

And so the debate goes on – to ban or medicalise. But one thing is for sure. It won’t be an easy battle. Not only does the religious establishment support the practice, but most local Muslim women are very much for it. The government and women’s activists will have a hard time convincing them to abandon it.

7 Responses to “Calls to medicalise female circumcision grow”

  1. Hiranthe Says:

    This is contradictory.

    1. If people are telling that this is good, then go ahead and do it and deny the so called “almighty God” who said to have created the ideal being in humans. If we are created as ideal species, there can’t be anything left for us to cut off to make it work.

    2. If you believe in the creation of the almighty god, then forget about all man-made rules and go with the god.

    Prophet Mohamed introduce circumcision to men at that ancient time because people in the deserts did not have access to water easily to clean themselves. It was on hygienic basis.

    People used to eat dead animals and were catching various deceases. Therefore, he introduced the Halal method to make it certain that the animal’s flesh was fresh to eat. They had nothing else to eat in the deserts, no vegetations.

    But today’s world, no one sells dead animals meat. They are all slaughtered animals flesh. So what is the purpose of Halal now?

    Same story. If God created other animals for humans to consume, why chanting a verse of Holy Koran? They don’t do it when eating Gods other creations like fruits and veggies.

    It is clear that all these rules were brought to suit the society at that time.

    It is high time Islam come out of this conditioned shell.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    One thing I cannot understand is why Muslims are so obsessed with male and female genitalia? Why can’t they get on – like with the rest of the world – like normal people?

    As for animal sacrifices – why can’t they sacrifice a part of their own body -say a finger, a hand, a let or even a part of the sexual organ as a sacrifice to God. I am sure he will be much pleased with the individual as it is a real and meaningful sacrifice other than an innocent animal who has no idea why it is being killed and called a sacrifice of somebody else?

    Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country – (cut out the multicultural bullshit) and we don’t want to be seen as a country that mutilates be they males or females with government auspices.

    In the first place as Hiranthe says, God seems to have got tired at the end of his wonderful creation and left somethings undone! If we are to correct all His mistakes, then all sheep, cattle, horses, camels, elephants should be circumcised!

  3. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    This Fastest Breeding Religion followers are brainwashed or brain dead. The year is 2018 and science has proven
    these mythical gods don’t have a shred of evidence to support them. Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution proved
    to the world how the 2-legged creatures evolved over 3000 million years to become what we are today. Then
    his book, The Tree of Life, explained all these other creatures came to being, and the whole world (honest people
    only) accepted all his theories to be 100% true. Then NASA’s missions showed the world, earth is a ‘grain of
    sand’ in the vast vast universe where distances are measured in light years and to this day no scientist know
    where the edges are. The Sun is 93 million miles away from us. Look at the night sky and the stars you see
    are objects billions of miles away from us. They look so tiny since the vast vast distance from us. Some of them
    could be suns in different solar systems. God’s work? Not in the year 2018! Not for the people with brain cells >0.

    In the year 0000 or 600 people believed in anything. People even used to worship mountains, trees etc in the
    days. Is there any wonder then people believed in mythical gods in the year 0000 or 600. Today, religions has
    to be accepted they have to pass the science test. All these god based religions fail miserably while Buddhism
    passes the test with flying colours. Tthese religion of convenience followers kept the god alive by money and
    power meanwhile the fastest breeding religion propagated it by multiplying and outnumbering the natives.

    This dirty, disgusting, sub human trick used to turn old Buddhist afganisthan, pakesthan, maldives, bangladesh,
    malaysia and indonesia to mussies within a few hundred of their arrivals in those countries with their Baby
    Machine Wives.
    The dirty, disgusting, sub human trick worked in the olden days since people didn’t know until the menace
    came to their door. Today, in this tv, internet, phone age people going to know and going to fight back to save
    their livelihoods. That’s what happened in Myanmar. Fast multiplying mussies from bangladesh crept over the
    border to fertile lands of Myanmar and multiplied and multiplied thinking they will get a country on a plate after
    murdering a few thousand natives. But it backfired and mussies had to crept back to bangladesh with babies
    hanging from all sides. This is what these mad, brain washed, brain dead mussies want to do to Sri Lanka using
    the Baby Machines.

    Stop multiplying like …. It will only lead to bloodshed. Read Chalres Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and do some
    good in this life so you can be a two legged creature in the next liife (Buddhism). If you want barbaric
    practices of konakapala in both sexes, go to where you came from. Sri Lanka is a civilized country with
    civilized people. Follow a true religion not a religion of convenience which don’t regard sins as sins. This is why
    Buddhism disappeared from india quickly since it didn’t fit the society with caste system, animal sacrifices,
    inequality etc. Buddhism has no place for those and people quickly got rid of it only to pay for their sins in
    their next lives.

    Check Buddhism’s five precepts. That alone is enough for any honest human to understand what a religion is. What’s more all the law counts under the sun accept them as sins while all the religions of conveniences don’t.

    Refraining from:
    harming living things.
    taking what is not given.
    sexual misconduct.
    lying or gossip.
    taking intoxicating substances eg drugs or drink. This alone is enough for any honest human to understand
    what a religion is. Not a religion of convenience. No emails/tweets from mythical god to kill non believers etc. etc.

  4. Ukkubandage Gunasinghe Says:

    I agree 100% all the comments above. This BS coming from Wahabis. They are trying to destroy our culture. This time to come together all Sinhala people. If we do so we do not have to worry about vote bank. Today problem is we are divided and very few patriotic people concern what is happening in our country.

  5. Dilrook Says:

    All acts of bodily harm to humans and animals in the name of any ritualistic belief or religion must be banned. It is disgusting, barbaric and causes needless sufferings.

    This includes circumcision of males and females, animal sacrifices at Munneswaram, skin piercings in Kataragama, etc., walking on hot ash, carrying heavy stuff including crosses, etc. Banning the use of elephants in Perahera must also be considered as it goes against Buddhist teachings. Dalada Perahera was started by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe who was a South Indian. He obviously had little understanding of Buddhism and copied a similar procession in South India.

    An innocent animal with tied and bleeding feet, deprived enjoyment of its natural habitat and torture cannot be associated with Buddhism. It is an insult to both. Being mindful of this fact now, I find it very difficult to enjoy such events. If Buddha were to witness it, will he approve it?

    Mindfulness is in short supply in Sri Lanka despite our Buddhist heritage.

    With time things will change. For instance, during our childhood a song by the name “karakena rode punchi karaththe” was popular. However, in today’s context that would attract criticism over child labour, depriving schooling, etc. Things have changed and as a nation we must change too. Otherwise we will be left behind.

  6. Randeniyage Says:

    Fully agree with Dilrook, 100% , noted with interest the statement “Mindfulness is in short supply in Sri Lanka despite our Buddhist heritage” may be that is the reason Ven. Udaeriyagama Dhammajeeva Thero started “Sati Paasala” programme.

    When a group of lay people came to visit Buddha in a possession beating drums and making noise he chased them away asking ” who are these fishermen ? ” or something similar. The Buddha never tolerated noise making. How then this could go with our Peraheras ?
    Torture of elephants especially in the name of Buddhism is a great sin ( paapakamma). It is much worse than use of elephants to lift or drag heavy weights in the past. Another thing is Vedi Bana preaching by politicians on Vesak days which too is a great paapakamma.

  7. Christie Says:

    What about cosmetic surgery in this area to make it look beautiful?

    Some do cut and chop to increase stimulation.

    What is important is let kids grow as normal and let them decide what to do with cutting, chopping or piercing.

    What about Hindu practices. Hindu practices are useful when these Indian Colonial Parasites claim refuge in the West claiming that they have been tortured.

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