Country: United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Population: 5.6 million
Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:
No widespread studies have been conducted but small-scale studies indicate that FGC does occur in the UAE. In a study of 200 Emiratis published by the Dubai Women’s College in their magazine ‘Desert Dawn’ (2011), 34% of female respondents had been cut.
From studies, it appears that Type IV is the most prevalent form of FGC.
FGC is legal in the UAE; however the Ministry of Health prohibits it being performed in state hospitals and clinics. This does not however stop parents getting their daughters cut in private clinics or at home.
History of FGC in UAE:
In the UAE, 96% of the population is Muslim and many consider FGC as a religious tradition. However, others argue that it is not supported by Islam or the Qu’ran, and thus oppose it.
The expatriate population of UAE has reached almost 90%. The Social Institution and Gender Index (SIGI) claims that the majority of FGC in the UAE is carried out amongst Sudanese, Somali and Omani communities, rather than those of UAE descent. FGC continues relatively un-checked in rural areas and private clinics where the ban does not apply.
Current efforts to abandon FGC:
The Dubai Women’s College survey (a small study) found that 99% of men surveyed opposed the practice, as did 82% of women.
Despite the high opposition statistics, there are still beliefs that FGC is a religious requirement. It is also thought that FGC prepares a girl for marriage and once a girl is cut she will be more chaste and pure, making a better wife.
It is understood through anecdotal evidence that girls from the UK and other European countries have been taken to UAE to be cut. The UK does have extra-territorial legislation, meaning that taking a child abroad to be cut is an offence in the eyes of UK law. However, this is very hard to police.
The Desert Dawn article concluded that the levels of ignorance surrounding FGC is responsible for its high prevalence rate.
Major ethnic groups:
South Asian 58%
Other Asians 17%
Muslim (Islam - official) 96% (Shia 16%)
Other (includes Christian, Hindu) 4%