Malaysia

Country: Malaysia

Population: 30 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:

Unknown.

There is no national prevalence data for Malaysia. Small scale studies show results ranging from 62% to 90% of women cut. According to the results of a university study (involving 1,000 female respondents), more than 90% of the Malay Muslim female respondents had been cut.

Type practised:

Typically Types I and IV are practiced; practitioners usually prick the genitalia (Type IV) or cut off a small piece of the clitoral hood.

Legal status:

There are no laws on FGC in Malaysia.

History of FGC in Malaysia:

FGC is a rite of passage whereby a symbolic ritual of pricking girl’s genitalia occurs after 40 days of birth. A needle is used to prick the genitalia lightly and sometimes piercing, incising, scraping and cauterising the genital area is conducted. This depends on the person performing the procedure, and the region the girl is from.

It is relatively common in rural villages in the northern part of the country, where it is generally carried out by traditional practitioners – though in recent years, private health practitioners have also begun to carry out the practice.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

Little information is available on current efforts to abandon FGC in Malaysia. Some awareness-raising campaigns are focusing on spreading the message that the practice of FGC is unnecessary.

Sisters in Islam raise awareness of the practice and that it is not required by religion.

Ongoing challenges:

Some reports claim that FGC is gaining popularity amongst adult women, converts to Islam, and in urban areas. FGC is not conducted by doctors in government hospitals but in private ones, so those that can afford private consultations are the growing middle-class professionals. Young mothers celebrate it on personal blogs suggesting that a purportedly dying tradition is facing resurgence.

A lack of awareness in rural areas of the issues surrounding FGC poses a major barrier to efforts to address the practice. The only widespread conversations come from the government who are seemingly in support of FGC. In 2009, the Malaysian government sponsored the 86th conference of Malaysia’s Fatwa Committee National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs, and decided that FGC is part of Islamic teachings and it should thus be observed by Muslims, with the majority of the jurists in the Committee concluding that FGC is obligatory (wajib). The fatwa noted harmful circumcision methods are to be avoided. In response to this fatwa, the Ministry of Health has taken steps to make the FGC obligatory for Muslim women. Moreover, in 2012 the Malaysian government health ministry proposed guidelines to reclassify and allow female circumcision as a medical practice. As a result, Malaysian women claim religious obligation (82%) as the primary reason for FGC, with hygiene (41%) and cultural practice (32%) other major motivators.

Languages:

Malay (official)

English

137 indigenous languages

Major religions:

Islam 61.3%

Buddhism 19.8%

Christianity 9.2%

Hinduism 6.3%

In the news:

FMT News - Much to be done against abuse of women and children, says report

FMT News - Muslim doctors against female circumcision; FGM is not part of Islamic teachings despite being widely practised by a large section of Muslims in the country

FMT News - Nothing Cut-and-Dry About Female Genital Cutting

The Express Tribune - FGC rates rise in Malaysia

Global Post - Female genital mutilation on the rise among Southeast Asian Muslims

The Malaysian Insider – Opinion: Wrong to Cut Our Girls

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