According to various members of Sri Lanka’s Muslim communities, female circumcision should not be classed as genital mutilation, Reuters reports. The communities have strongly condemned criticism of ancient cutting rituals performed on girls.
Representatives of Sri Lankan Muslim communities, such as the Dawoodi Bohras, Moor and Malay Muslims, say the procedure their girls undergo isn’t the same as those performed in regions such as Africa, where their vaginas are often sewed as part of the procedure.
“It is completely false to associate FGM in Africa, where the clitoris is seriously damaged or removed, with khatna in Sri Lanka. Khatna involves making just the mildest of nicks on foreskin of the clitoris as required by our religion. There is no clinical evidence to show that it has negative health impacts or causes any kind of psychological trauma.” said Jamila Husain, spokesperson for a body representing the Dawoodi Bohra community in Sri Lanka.
Members of Sri Lanka’s Moor and Malay Muslim community, say calling “a nick on the hood or prepuce of the clitoris” genital mutilation damages their communities reputation.
“We do not mutilate or cut our girls. Our religion requires it and it actually helps to keep the area clean and hygienic and prevents infections. In fact, this procedure actually helps women gain more pleasure during sexual intercourse.” said Asiff Hussein, vice president at the Centre for Islamic Studies in Sri Lanka, Reuters writes.
However, two Bohra women interviewed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation said the procedure they were subjected to as young girls involved damage to the clitoris, and maintained the would not allow their daughters to undergo the khatna. In India, a group of women from the Dawoodi Bohra community have urged the government to prohibit the procedure.
Last year, a UN report on genital mutilation listed 30 countries which practice cutting, most of which in Africa. Others, however, believe that genital mutilation is practiced in over 45 countries and is more common in Asia than is commonly believed.
The World Health Organization classifies genital mutilation into four types, all of which are considered by the UN to be a violation of the rights of women and girls.