Muslim groups call for female circumcision to be medicalised
A number of Sri Lankan Muslim groups have called on the government to medicalise female circumcision.
In representations made to the Parliamentary Committee on Women and Gender, members of the All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulama, All Ceylon YMMA Conference, Centre for Islamic Studies and United Religions Initiative urged the Health Ministry to withdraw a recent circular prohibiting medical professionals from carrying out female circumcision.
In their submission, the joint Muslim groups stated that the Muslim community is very concerned about moves to ban this obligatory Islamic duty on the grounds that it is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
“We wish to categorically state that the practice of female circumcision is an obligatory Islamic duty, that it confers numerous benefits and is not Female Genital Mutilation. As such we condemn all moves to ban the practice of female circumcision by legislation and/ or by government bodies and urge that no moves be taken in this direction which we will regard as an unwarranted intrusion on and infringement of our religious duties guaranteed by the law and constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”, the Muslim representatives said in their submission. “We also request the Ministry of Health to withdraw a recent circular it issued prohibiting medical practitioners from performing the procedure and to issue a fresh circular excluding Islamic female circumcision a.k.a hoodectomy from the definition of FGM”
Joint Spokesperson Noor Hazeema Haris said that although Muslims wholeheartedly support the abolition of traditional practices harmful to women and children such as FGM, in case it is shown to exist in Sri Lanka, the Islamic practice of female circumcision is vastly different. She pointed out that this religious obligation practiced by the Muslims of the country for centuries in keeping with the requirements of the Islamic faith is not FGM. This was evident from the Joint Ministry of Health (MOH) and WHO report on Violence and Health in Sri Lanka in 2008, which states categorically that FGM does not exist in Sri Lanka.
She pointed out that while countless Sri Lankan Muslim Women have undergone childbirth deliveries in Governmental and Private Hospitals over the past decades, not a single case has arisen where Muslim women have been shown to have undergone FGM. It is therefore very clear that Sri Lankan Muslim women have never experienced FGM.
She further pointed out that female circumcision practiced by Muslims is a very minor procedure similar to male circumcision where the prepuce of the clitoris is removed. This is the same as hoodectomy which is a legal cosmetic procedure chosen by women to improve genital hygiene and enhance their sex lives.
“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 w