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Resisting FGM in Malaysia: One fathers story

The Milla Project

When my daughter was born, I remember there being a huge rush of nurses, doctors, students and various other medical attendants swirling around the doors of the delivery room. On a whiteboard next to the entrance was a hastily drawn-up list of all the various expecting mothers who were delivering at the time. Drawn in smaller fonts right next to the name of the mothers were the words indicating whether the mother was Muslim or not, the expected sex of the baby, and if the baby was a girl born to a Muslim mother, whether she would be circumcised or not. Before long a medical attendant came rushing up to me and asked me whether I wanted my daughter to be circumcised. Before I share with you my decision, let us consider the facts, myths and issues surrounding female circumcision.

Female circumcision is probably one of the least well-known facts about the Malay community. Some non-Malay men who have married Malay women are not even aware of this fact. But it’s there, it happens, and it is even conducted by medical professionals. There has been a general effort by WHO and various other medical and women’s NGOs to eliminate the practice of Female Circumcision (or Female Genital Mutilation as some quarters call it) around the world. These efforts often meet with strong resistance from the local populace due to the strong connection the practice has with local cultures and traditions.

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