Female Circumcision

Female circumcision encompasses a wide range of procedures, ranging in severity from a nick on the clitoral hood to cutting off all the external genitals and sewing up the vaginal opening. In its more extreme form, it is known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

This Al Jazeera Report gives a very brief overview of the practice:

The acknowledged authority on female circumcision, the World Health Organization (WHO), recognizes four types of female circumcision:

TYPE IExcision of the prepuce with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.
TYPE IIExcision of the prepuce and clitoris together with partial or total excision of the labia minora.
TYPE III    Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).
TYPE IV   Unclassified: includes pricking, piercing or incision of clitoris and/or labia; stretching of clitoris and/or labia; cauterization by burning of clitoris and surrounding tissues; scraping (angurya cuts) of the vaginal orifice or cutting (gishiri cuts) of the vagina; introduction of corrosive substances into the vagina to cause bleeding or herbs into the vagina with the aim of tightening or narrowing the vagina; any other procedure which falls under the definition of FGM given above

Age of Consent

The term is almost exclusively used to describe traditional or religious procedures on a minor, which requires the parents’ consent because of the age of the girl. When the procedure is performed on and with the consent of an adult it is generally called clitoridectomy, or it may be part of labiaplasty or vaginoplasty.

What are the health implications of this procedure?

FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies. Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, hemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue.

Does Female Circumcision happen in Singapore?

Yes. In Singapore’s Muslim community, female circumcision involves nicking the prepuce, the skin covering the clitoris. It is markedly different from the more severe forms of genital mutilation. The procedure is usually done on babies or prepubescent children. Circumcisions in Singapore are done by female doctors at a handful of Muslim clinics. Anesthesia is generally not used. – source

Although a relatively common procedure, many young women are unaware that they have undergone this ritual or what it entails.

What is the religious basis for this procedure?

The practice is encouraged by some religious leaders however many historians say that there is no religious basis for this practice

According to the majority of ulama, circumcision is compulsory for men and women. It should be done early in life, preferably when still an infant, to avoid complications, prolong pain and embarrassment if done later in life. Any good Muslimah doctor can perform circumcision for women. It is just a cutting off the thin membrane on the top most part of the clitoris.
Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS)

Those practices originated 1,400 years ago, before the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, says Noor Aisha Binte Abdul Rahman, a professor at the National University of Singapore. But the custom has no religious basis and there are no guidelines except that it should not bring harm to believers, says Zhulkeflee Haji Ismail, manager of Singapore’s Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association. “Some people just follow customs without knowing what they’re about,” the scholar says. “Traditions die hard.”


Female Circumcision in Indonesia: A Slideshow