clear
Wednesday, 1 April 2015
In Thailand’s Muslim south, authorities turn a blind eye to FGM
Share
clear

From the Guardian

Eight-week-old baby Amiyah grimaces when sunlight falls on her face as though she isn’t used to the idea of having been born yet. On a Saturday afternoon, in Thailand’s southern Pattani province, her Muslim mother has brought her to a small clinic so midwife Dah can slice her clitoris for sunat. The practice, a form of female genital mutilation (FGM), has been banned by the World Health Organisation.

In majority Buddhist Thailand, the public health department says FGM does not happen. But in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, ethnic Malay Muslims are a majority. . .Here, midwife Dah says she has cut almost all female births she has attended.

She holds a sterile surgical blade, . . mops up a drop of blood with a cotton swab, recites the name of God, and declares the baby “circumcised”. “I feel relieved that I have done my duty,” the mother says.

 

FGM as practised in Thailand falls under type IV in the WHO’s classification, which involves pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterisation. Types I and II involve excision of either clitoris or labia or both, and type III includes a procedure where the vulva is sutured together after removal of the clitoris and labia. The WHO says the procedure has no known health benefits, arises from a deep-seated gender-bias, and amounts to a violation of both children’s and women’s rights.

Just across the border in Malaysia, a study conducted in 2011 showed 93% of Muslim women have been cut, including in Kelantan state on Thailand’s border, which is culturally and religiously similar to Pattani. Though the practice dates back centuries for Muslims living across the Malay peninsula, Malaysia’s highest religious authority did not issue a fatwa until 2009 requiring the cutting of all Muslim women.

Malaysia’s fatwa has put health workers in an awkward position. As women increasingly give birth in hospitals, mothers looking for a safe way to cut their female babies are essentially asking doctors to break WHO guidelines.

To reduce the prevalence of FGM in Malaysia , Saira Shameem, who works for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Kuala Lumpur, is working with health authorities to make the practice symbolic, with a routine alcohol swab performed by obstetricians at birth. “What the fatwa does not do, is it does not specify what the procedure should be,” she says, “that allows us an avenue to define the procedure in a non-invasive, non-harmful manner and shift the practice accordingly.”

Dr Patimoh Umasa is one of the only female doctors in Yala, where she runs a small clinic on the edge of the city’s Muslim quarter. She knows the WHO guidelines, and doesn’t believe what she does directly contravenes them. “If it is done by a doctor and they are using the right technique, then never mind,” she says. “It’s just a little. Just an incision, no excision.”

But doctors such as Nawal Nour, director of the Global Women’s Health Centre at Harvard Medical School, believes a “right technique” does not exist. “There are girls who suffer short and long-term consequences, even from type IV,” she says. “The clitoris on a baby girl is tiny, and in error, cutters can remove it completely. Also botched jobs can lead to haemorrhage, infection, sepsis and death.”

Back in Pattani, Peung, 33, has gathered her family together to watch her eight-month-old daughter, Mia, being cut by her mother-in-law, who is sterilising a pair of nail scissors with alcohol. Peung is pleased her daughter is now “complete”, but she isn’t sure why.

“I don’t know what the benefit is behind it, but I believe there must be one. I know the prophet said it is desirable for the husband when women are cut. Actually in Islam we believe that women have more desire than men, so there must be something to control the women, give them humility and modesty – and this could be one way to do it. Maybe in the future the scientists will find out and then we will know the benefit. All the girls here in the south do it.”

clear
Posted on 04/01/2015 2:47 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Comments
No comments yet.


Pre-order at Amazon or Amazon UK today!

Order at Amazon or Amazon UK

Order on Amazon.or Amazon UK.


Amazon donates to World Encounter Institute Inc when you shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/56-2572448. #AmazonSmile #StartWithaSmile

Subscribe

Categories

Adam Selene (2) A.J. Caschetta (7) Ahnaf Kalam (2) Alexander Murinson (1) Andrew Harrod (4) Anne-Christine Hoff (1) Bat Ye'or (6) Bradley Betters (1) Brex I Teer (9) Brian of London (32) Carol Sebastian (1) Christina McIntosh (864) Christopher DeGroot (2) Conrad Black (595) Daniel Mallock (5) David J. Baldovin (1) David P. Gontar (7) David Solway (78) David Wemyss (1) Dexter Van Zile (74) Dr. Michael Welner (3) E. B Samuel (1) Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (1) Emmet Scott (1) Eric Rozenman (7) Esmerelda Weatherwax (9725) Fergus Downie (23) Fred Leder (1) Friedrich Hansen (7) G. Murphy Donovan (71) G. Tod Slone (1) Gary Fouse (159) Geert Wilders (13) Geoffrey Botkin (1) Geoffrey Clarfield (330) George Rojas (1) Hannah Rubenstein (3) Hesham Shehab and Anne-Christine Hoff (1) Hossein Khorram (2) Howard Rotberg (13) Hugh Fitzgerald (21159) Ibn Warraq (10) Ilana Freedman (2) James Como (23) James Robbins (1) James Stevens Curl (2) Janice Fiamengo (1) jeffrey burghauser (1) Jenna Wright (1) Jerry Gordon (2516) Jerry Gordon and Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdallah (2) Jesse Sandoval (1) John Constantine (122) John Hajjar (5) John M. Joyce (391) John Rossomando (1) Jonathan Ferguson (1) Jonathan Hausman (4) Jordan Cope (1) Joseph S. Spoerl (10) Kenneth Francis (2) Kenneth Hanson (1) Kenneth Lasson (1) Kenneth Timmerman (27) Lorna Salzman (9) Louis Rene Beres (37) Manda Zand Ervin (1) Marc Epstein (9) Mark Anthony Signorelli (11) Mark Durie (7) Mark Zaslav (1) Mary Jackson (5065) Matthew Hausman (44) Matthew Stewart (1) Michael Curtis (666) Michael Rechtenwald (21) Mordechai Nisan (2) Moshe Dann (1) NER (2590) New English Review Press (87) Nidra Poller (73) Nikos A. Salingaros (1) Nonie Darwish (10) Norman Berdichevsky (86) Paul Oakley (1) Paul Weston (5) Paula Boddington (1) Peter McGregor (1) Peter McLoughlin (1) Philip Blake (1) Phyllis Chesler (139) Rebecca Bynum (7197) Richard Butrick (24) Richard Kostelanetz (16) Richard L. Benkin (21) Richard L. Cravatts (7) Richard L. Rubenstein (44) Robert Harris (85) Sally Ross (36) Sam Bluefarb (1) Samuel Chamberlain (1) Sha’i ben-Tekoa (1) Springtime for Snowflakes (4) Stacey McKenna (1) Stephen Schecter (1) Steve Hecht (27) Ted Belman (8) The Law (90) Theodore Dalrymple (891) Thomas J. Scheff (6) Thomas Ország-Land (3) Tom Harb (4) Tyler Curtis (1) Walid Phares (32) Winfield Myers (1) z - all below inactive (7) z - Ares Demertzis (2) z - Andrew Bostom (74) z - Andy McCarthy (536) z - Artemis Gordon Glidden (881) z - DL Adams (21) z - John Derbyshire (1013) z - Marisol Seibold (26) z - Mark Butterworth (49) z- Robert Bove (1189) zz - Ali Sina (2)
clear
Site Archive