Mutilating women for the sake of Islam

By Mira Aziz – 24.4.19

Muslim women in Malaysia, such as myself, are being mutilated at a young age, allowing men to dominate our sexuality and definition as women, creating suffer and agony to young girls for the sake of Islam. It seems that as much as the Malaysian society becomes more modern and accepting, the methods to keep women disempowered are reasoned using religion, to “Islamize it”, because who can claim anything against the undefeatable Fatwa committee and their unquestionable rulings.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) has urged Malaysia government several times to eliminate the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) without Success.

FGM is an African practice, spreading nowadays to other Middle-Eastern and Asian countries, and includes 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 essence, the purpose of FGM is controlling and affecting women’s sexuality and purity, limiting her ability to enjoy any sexual contact or intercourse and often causing grand complications in both the genital and urinal systems.

However not specifically related to Islam, Muslim countries such as Malaysia claim that the practice is part of the Islamic teachings and should be practiced by Muslims. The Malaysian national Fatwa committee observed the practice in 2009, claiming that the practice is harmless if done in accordance the Ministry of Health guidelines. 

Although the majority of Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria, criticized the practice. The practice is obligatory in Malaysia, where the most prevalent form of it is the removal of the clitoral hood after the female baby is born, either by the midwife or the doctor. FGM is regarded as any other immunization required for female babies. Muslim parents can be exempted from mutilating their child only in case the practice can bring medical harm to the baby.

Malaysia is a member of the Cedaw and ratified the treaty in 1995, therefore obliged to submit a report on the status of women’s rights and implementation of the treaty. However, Malaysia’s progress was reviewed by the committee only in 2006 and 2018, as the country failed to submit the reports.

My personal experience as a modern woman that has been circumcised in an early age is quite confusing – I hear about women enjoying sex and even having orgasms, while I am not able to experience it. It feels more like hearing about how everyone enjoys the feast you are attending, but not being able to taste the food. For me intercourse is something I have to do with my husband, another task as any other, just like washing the dishes, doing laundry or cooking dinner. My family, by practicing FGM on me and mutilating me, took away my liberty to be a whole person, created great pain for me both mentally and physically. The fact that this practice is advocated as a method to create better Muslim women is just another way to control us so we will remain silent and obedient. Malaysian women can be great women, wives and mothers without this great suffering.

I am terrified by the fact that I might carry a daughter next time I get pregnant, letting her get through this experience knowingly, mutilating her for the sake of what my country regards as Islam, and knowing with a broken heart that I didn’t fight enough for a better upbringing for her.

I can only hope the international community will take greater actions in order to prevent more girls from going through this hell.