Female circumcision on the rise in Malaysia

Published: February 20, 2015



Syahiera Atika, a 19-year-old Malaysian girl  has happily embraced western-style capitalism but in contrast strictly follows the local interpretation of Islam as she informed the Vice of her circumcision.

Female circumcision involves the surgical removal of all or part of a woman’s clitoris. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classed this procedure as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).




WHO also defines it as an operation that “involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”




Syahiera however, rejects the notion that it is inhumane and says that “I’m circumcised because it is required by Islam.” She refers to it as ‘wajib’, which means any religious duty commanded by Allah.

“I don’t think the way we do it here is harmful,” she said, adding that “it protects young girls from pre-marital sex as it is supposed to lower their sex drive. But I am not sure it always works.”

According to a 2012 study conducted by Dr Maznah Dahlui, over 93 per cent of Muslim women surveyed had been circumcised. This made Syahiera among the majority of Muslim women in Malaysia.

Dr Dahlui also noted that the procedure was increasingly performed by trained medical professionals in private clinics, instead of by traditional circumcision practitioners.

Shocking to Western sensibilities, Dr Maznah insisted that Malaysia’s version of the procedure in less invasive than in other parts of the world.

Obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Mighilia of the Global Ikhwan private clinic located in Rawang, north of Kuala Lumpur, admitted that she performs a more drastic version with a needle or scissors. “I just take a needle and slit off the top of the clitoris, but it is very little,” she said. “Just one millimetre.”

WHO has declared FGM to provide no medical benefits whatsoever. It simply reflects the deep-rooted inequality between the sexes. For this reason, the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 unanimously passed a resolution calling it a “human rights violation” and urged states to ban the practice.

Some Malaysian medical practitioners also defend the practice by passing judgment onto other countries. “We are very much against what is going on in other countries like Sudan,”says Dr Ariza Mohamed, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at KPJ Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

“That is very different from what we practice in Malaysia,” she said adding “and there is a big difference between circumcision and female genital mutilation.”




All Malaysians however, do not support the practice. Syarifatul Adibah, who is the Senior Programme Officer at Sisters in Islam, a local women’s rights group, insists that female circumcision isn’t once mentioned in the Quran.

Instead she points to its popularity as a stemming from an increasingly conservative interpretation of Islam. “Previously it was a cultural practice but now because of Islamisation, people just relate everything to Islam. And when you link something to religion, people here follow it blindly, they don’t enquire,” she explained.

The practice is not banned in Malaysia, although public hospitals are prevented from performing the surgery. More concerning however is that in 2009 the Fatwa Committee of Malaysia’s National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs ruled that female circumcision was obligatory for all Muslim women, unless it was harmful.

Correction: In an earlier version, FGM was incorrectly mentioned as FMG. The mistake is regretted.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Parvez
    Feb 20, 2015 - 11:27AM

    What is the CII doing? Why is this not made compulsory in Pakistan!! Recommend

  • asim
    Feb 20, 2015 - 11:40AM


  • Sara
    Feb 20, 2015 - 11:49AM

    Correction: It shud be FGM rather then FMG as said in the article.Recommend

  • Ali
    Feb 20, 2015 - 12:20PM

    @Parvez. Have you lost your main? It isn’t Islamic at all then why should it be practiced in Pakistan? Please get you research done and then respond. Had it been so, men would’ve been circumcised completely to rid them for sexual desires. Recommend

  • yafra khan
    Feb 20, 2015 - 1:14PM

    Like seriously ET? VICE is your source????Recommend

  • The truth
    Feb 20, 2015 - 2:02PM

    In reality male circumcision is also not in the Qur’an but is followed anyway Recommend

  • Feb 20, 2015 - 8:04PM

    What is done to girls in Malaysia is far less harmful than what is done to boys. The Malaysian version of female circumcision excises a rice grain-sized portion of the female prepuce, while male circumcision removes the entire male prepuce. Yet you only report on the female version. You want inequality of the sexes? You’re perpetuating it.Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Feb 20, 2015 - 9:12PM

    Few recent news reports in ET:
    (1) Girls/ women willing to go to sever ISIS in Syria and Iraq and become sex slaves of ISIS terrorists. Some such girls/women were so brutally abused sexually that they had to be admitted to hospitals.

    (2) Girls/women being attracted to ISIS terrorists posing with Nutella and Kitten.

    (3) Girls/women supporting FGM.

    Looks like girls/women are happy demeaning themselves, serving as sex slaves and brutally abused sexually by men.

    BTW, FGM is also in practice to some extent in India and to a good extent in Pakistan, mainly practiced by Bhora community. There were few articles/blogs on this in ET.



  • Anita
    Feb 21, 2015 - 6:43AM

    she says”it protects young girls from pre-marital sex as it is supposed to lower their sex drive” what are thy doing to prevent men from having pre-marital sex, or does it only apply to females – again? Ridiculous, in some parts of the world they cut women to lower their sex drive and in other parts the develop a pill to increase female sex drive (new pill developed in America). How about just leave it as it is supposed to be from nature!Recommend

  • Zalmai
    Feb 21, 2015 - 8:20AM

    Mental retardation has become an epidemic among the converted. The converted are trying to one up their proselytizers. Outdated cultural practices are being confused with religion by the converted people that are adopting dubious customs in order to gain an honorary identity and kinship with Muslims from Arabia and Africa that are perceived as more pious. Recommend

  • Roze
    May 20, 2015 - 12:44AM

    The proper form of female circumcision (hoodectomy) where only the prepuce of
    the clitoris (equivalent of the foreskin in males) is removed can benefit countless women, both in terms of hygiene and sexual pleasure.

    See this lovely article: http://www.anvermanatunga.net/english/female-circumcision-the-hidden-truth-by-asiff-hussein/Recommend

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