Thailand

Country: Thailand

Population: 67.7 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:

Unknown.

Type practised:

The most commonly practiced form of FGC in Thailand is Type IV.

Legal status:

There is currently no law prohibiting FGC in Thailand.

History of FGC in Thailand:

FGC is believed to occur in southern Thailand, notably in the Satun province. It is thought that insurgent violence in the south has led to reduced education availability, whilst at the same time cultural practices are proliferating as a consequence of persecution. Southern Thailand has very similar cultural practices to northern Malaysia, where FGC is also known to occur. While many Islamic scholars do not consider FGC to be mandatory, as it is not mentioned in the Qu’ran, by some it is thought to signify the entrance of a girl into the Islamic community. There are both opponents and defenders of FGC in certain provinces of Thailand.

Merli found that in southern Thailand, FGC has strong links with birthing traditions and rites for the postpartum period, and in this region it is linked with a girl/woman joining the Islamic community. This is despite the fact that FGC is not mentioned in the Qur’an, although it does appear in some weak hadiths, which are open to interpretation by religious scholars.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

No known abandonment efforts.

Ongoing challenges:

An article by Merli found that in the southern province of Satun, FGC was upheld by women but generally opposed by men, which is also true of many other practicing communities. Merli argues that this may be due to men’s deeper knowledge of the scriptures of the Qu’ran, whilst women have lower literacy levels. It is thought that FGC is not essential but will cause a softening of the girl’s character, allowing for a successful marriage.

Additional information:

Reasons for performing FGC vary in Thailand, ranging from preventing the excessive growth of the clitoris, to the understanding that it is required by religion.

In central Thailand it was found that FGC was performed on girls up to 11 and considered as marking the full entrance of the child into the human group. However, the acceptance of the baby as a human is usually associated with simple acts of recognition, such as feeding with a small amount of rice (in Tai Yong in northern Thailand). FGC is usually reserved for the formal acceptance into Islamic community. However, there are some concerns in the local Muslim community that some people belonging to Dakwah movements from India, who had moved to Thailand were trying to introduce FGC with deeper excision.

Practising ethnic groups:

Thai 75%

Chinese 14%

Other 11%

Languages:

Thai

English (secondary language of the elite)

Ethnic and regional dialects

Major religions:

Buddhist (official) 94.6%

Islam 4.6%

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