Part 2

by saajidahfirdausi

And I’m back, and the work week has ended. Oh thank God.

As I was saying, the main area of contention amongst those against this practice is that it is performed on an infant, without having a concrete reason behind it. And I agree, wholeheartedly. Granted, I do not appreciate Westerners and their tendency to nose into others’ cultural practices, because frankly, it is hypocritical. And at first glance, this issue felt like it too but I think it has become a defensive habit truth be told. In the matter of female circumcision, they are not wrong, not at all. In an advanced nation like Singapore, we are fortunate to have doctors who are able to perform this procedure. While unnecessary, one can sleep at night knowing the doctor would at least minimise the pain involved, and actually know what he or she is doing. But alas, I was too naïve and put my faith in the modern nation, because apparently, to this day, we still have a few midwives performing female circumcision on children here in Singapore. You can forget about anaesthetics, that is all I can say.

So we have a female child, a knife and a midwife, and get a proper woman, one who is not frivolous with her sexuality. It’s most disturbing that the first thing that comes to the minds of these people is sex. Oh look a beautiful baby girl, we must make sure she does not sleep around when she grows up. Disgusting.

Getting back to the event, where my sentiments above were echoed, we got to hear from the ladies who have undergone circumcision as a child. Their issue was the reaction they get from others. Besides one speaker, to them it was just something that they had gone through as a child, and it doesn’t affect them in their present day lives. Naturally witnessing everyone bristling in anger and indignation at their fate when they, the ‘victims’, themselves are indifferent, puts them off. That was at least the initial sentiment. An important point that was brought up by one of them was that while this procedure may not have affected most of us, is it okay to let it be? Is it alright to allow a questionable practice to go on just because we did not suffer the consequences?

Another area of consensus was that this problem has to be tackled by those in the community – not by the government, not by Western activists. Change has to start with us, the youth. It is far more easily said than done. Elders do not like their traditions rebuked. I had it done, so did my mother, and my grandmother. And you will too, that is how it is. This shutdown is nothing new, and it was brought up as one of the challenges we are to face. Elders like to look towards authority to guide their ways, in this instance, agencies such as MUIS, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. MUIS, which put up a post encouraging female circumcision as sunnat….so we can see where we are headed.

It is crucial that today’s generations not only question unethical practices but also act upon them, be it a matter of culture or modern society.

Before I end, I have a last point to voice. During the focus group, it was mentioned (amongst many other things such as the comparison to male circumcision) that it would be unwise for foreign parties to involve themselves in a matter so common and heavily practised in the Malay community, in Singapore that is, as it would feel like an attack on Muslims and hence Islam, with what is already happening in the world. While I said that this is not an Islamic practice, it is the reason given to justify female circumcision. And this is a problem. Religion is not only being misunderstood and misused by the masses, even those who are in positions to correct them such as clerics and religious scholars are condoning it, and taking part in it. Female circumcision is a practice of Muslims. It is not Islamic, and yet there is an exclusivity of its perpetrators. The world’s second largest religion in the number of its followers, and yet what we have is the severe lack of a distinctive sound voice, not just in this matter but many others as well. It is about time we step up, too many of us are going off the extremist rails listening to the spawns of Satan.