From The Australian. I have also heard this defence of FGM argued in England from a young man who claimed to be a medical student.
A MUSLIM leader and outspoken opponent of female genital mutilation says female circumcision, which he defines as the partial removal of the clitoral hood, is not only an utterly distinct practice, but the "divinely ordained right of a woman" under Islam.
Sydney-based Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences and Human Development founder and president, Imam Afroz Ali, appeared on the ABC's 7:30 program in October, condemning female genital mutilation and saying he had been told by community members of its occurrence in Australia.
But Imam Afroz defines female circumcision and female genital mutilation as "two very different, and unrelated, kinds of acts; the former being permissible and the latter completely forbidden under Islamic law".
The imam, who was yesterday unable to be contacted, made the argument in a paper entitled Mutilating Facts: Setting the Record Straight About Female Circumcision & Genital Mutilation, published this year on his SeekersGuidance website.
"Islamic law permits by definition, by prophetic statement and by practice female circumcision," he wrote. "The definition under Islamic law for female circumcision is exclusively the removal of the uppermost extra skin at the top of the clitoral glans. Female circumcision in its legitimate form is a personal and human right of a woman; genital mutilation is a horrible crime."
Imam Afroz indicated he believed the practice should only be performed on post-pubescent women. The imam argued his definition of female circumcision was the same as labiaplasty, or genital cosmetic surgery, which was legal in Australia.
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists vice-president Ajay Rane said he had three main concerns about Imam Afroz's paper. "Firstly, I felt that there was confusion in the article itself. On the one hand, he's saying female circumcision is supposed to be a woman's right in Islam, on the other, he's saying it's a cultural thing," he said. "The second issue is that of consent, and the third is who does these procedures? How do you train them to understand the difference between removal of a small and large amount? How do you control that?"
Professor Rane said the American and Australian and New Zealand colleges of obstetrics and gynaecology condemned all clitoral de-hooding operations, whether defined as legal labiaplasty or cultural female circumcision. "There's no science behind them to support enhancement of sexual performance or feelings, and they can cause horrific complications," he said.