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Female Circumcision in Oman: Please, Ministry of Health, Do SOMETHING!

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I’m back blogging again thanks to Mimi who had my blood boiling this morning with her latest post on her sister’s baby who was circumcized yesterday… at home. A little girl. A beautiful innocent little girl.

This topic has been discussed a lot in the Omani blogosphere, mostly by female bloggers here, here, and by former fellow blogger Reality in Oman but it isn’t getting nearly enough attention.Muscat Daily & The Week have also made an effort to bring it out into the open, but that’s about it.

Call it what you want … female genital mutilation/female genital cutting/female circumcision….. It’s a violation of human rights. It’s shameful. It’s ignorant. It is a CRIME. And yes, it is still widely practiced in Dhofar. BRUTAL genital mutilation. Whoever tells you otherwise is lying. They’ll tell you ‘it’s only a small cut’ to ‘clean’ the area. Who are you kidding?!

What disgusts me even more is that is it performed by women for women. Many men seem to think the practice no longer exists. The old woman in the hospital who charges 5, 10 , 15 OMR to chop up your baby’s genitals has been there for years and the hospital KNOW about her. But are they doing anything about it? NO.

You know why everyone still does it? Because they don’t know any better. No one talks about it, and the Ministry of Health isnt’ doing ANYTHING to spread awareness. Most women think they’re doing a good deed,… they really believe it’s Islamic and that it ‘purifies’ the child. Whose responsiblity is it to educate them? Oman’s Ministry of Health.

The ministry’s ‘Five-Year Health Plan: 2006-2010’announced that one of the ministry’s strategies to promote women and children’s health was to study the prevalence of FGM in Oman and design programs for community awareness. Did anything happen? As far as Dhofar is concerned, NO, even though the situation here is much worse than other parts of Oman. You can read the glorious five-year plan here. Scroll down to pages 8 & 9. A load of BS. The 2011-2015 plan isn’t on their website yet, so goodness’ knows whether genital mutilation is part of the current agenda or not.

Dear Ministry of Health. PLEASE pay attention:

1. Put up posters in all the maternity wards in this country explaning the dangers of female genital mutilation (FGM)

2. Spread awareness through the Women’s Associations in Oman

3. Get a doctor or a nurse to speak to every single woman who gives birth to a baby girl right there in the hospital.

4. Find the evil old ladies who hang around the maternity wards.

5. Spread awareness in school & universities.

For heaven’s sake .. DO SOMETHING.

4 Responses to Female Circumcision in Oman: Please, Ministry of Health, Do SOMETHING!

  1. Ahmed 27/01/2013 at 11:20 PM

    Female Circumcision is one of the most misunderstood practices of Islam. Here’s an excellent article showing that it is not the kind of mutilation it is commonly believed to be and that it is the same as hoodectomy which western women are increasingly choosing to undergo for better genital hygiene and an enhanced sex life :

    There exist many ahadith or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) to show the important place, circumcision, whether of males or females, occupies in Islam.

    Among these traditions is the one where the Prophet is reported to have declared circumcision (khitan) to be sunnat for men and ennobling for women (Baihaqi).

    He is also known to have declared that the bath (following sexual intercourse without which no prayer is valid) becomes obligatory when both the circumcised parts meet (Tirmidhi). The fact that the Prophet defined sexual intercourse as the meeting of the male and female circumcised parts (khitanul khitan or khitanain) when stressing on the need for the obligatory post-coital bath could be taken as pre-supposing or indicative of the obligatory nature of circumcision in the case of both males and females.

    Stronger still is his statement classing circumcision (khitan) as one of the acts characteristic of the fitra or God-given nature (Or in other words, Divinely-inspired natural inclinations of humans) such as the shaving of pubic hair, removing the hair of the armpits and the paring of nails (Bukhari) which again shows its strongly emphasized if not obligatory character in the case of both males and females. Muslim scholars are of the view that acts constituting fitra which the Prophet expected Muslims to follow are to be included in the category of wajib or obligatory.
    That the early Muslims regarded female circumcision as obligatory even for those Muslims who embraced Islam later in life is suggested by a tradition occurring in the Adab al Mufrad of Bukhari where Umm Al Muhajir is reported to have said: “I was captured with some girls from Byzantium. (Caliph) Uthman offered us Islam, but only myself and one other girl accepted Islam. Uthman said: ‘Go and circumcise them and purify them.’”

    More recently, we had Sheikh Jadul Haqq, the distinguished head of Al Azhar declaring both male and female circumcision to be obligatory religious duties (Khitan Al Banat in Fatawa Al-Islamiyyah. 1983). The fatwa by his successor Tantawi who opposed the practice cannot be taken seriously as we all know that he has pronounced a number of unislamic fatwas such as declaring bank interest halal and questioning the obligation of women wearing headscarves.
    At the same time, however, what is required in Islam, is the removal of only the prepuce of the clitoris, and not the clitoris itself as is widely believed.

    The Prophet is reported to have told Umm Atiyyah, a lady who circumcised girls in Medina: “When you circumcise, cut plainly and do not cut severely, for it is beauty for the face and desirable for the husband” (idha khafadti fa ashimmi wa la tanhaki fa innahu ashraq li’l wajh wa ahza ind al zawj) (Abu Dawud, Al Awsat of Tabarani and Tarikh Baghdad of Al Baghdadi).

    This hadith clearly explains the procedure to be followed in the circumcision of girls. The words: “Cut plainly and do not cut severely” (ashimmi wa la tanhaki) is to be understood in the sense of removing the skin covering the clitoris, and not the clitoris. The expression “It is beauty (more properly brightness or radiance) for the face” (ashraq li’l wajh) is further proof of this as it simply means the joyous countenance of a woman, arising out of her being sexually satisfied by her husband. The idea here is that it is only with the removal of the clitoral prepuce that real sexual satisfaction could be realized. The procedure enhances sexual feeling in women during the sex act since a circumcised clitoris is much more likely to be stimulated as a result of direct oral, penile or tactile contact than the uncircumcised organ whose prepuce serves as an obstacle to direct stimulation.

    A number of religious works by the classical scholars such as Fath Al Bari by Ibn Hajar Asqalani and Sharhul Muhadhdhab of Imam Nawawi have stressed on the necessity of removing only the prepuce of the clitoris and not any part of the organ itself. It is recorded in the Majmu Al Fatawa that when Ibn Taymiyyah was asked whether the woman is circumcised, he replied: “Yes we circumcise. Her circumcision is to cut the uppermost skin (jilda) like the cock’s comb.” More recently Sheikh Jadul Haqq declared that the circumcision of females consists of the removal of the clitoral prepuce (Khitan Al Banat in Fatawa Al Islamiyya. 1983).

    Besides being a religious duty, the procedure is believed to facilitate good hygiene since the removal of the prepuce of the clitoris serves to prevent the accumulation of smegma, a foul-smelling, germ-containing cheese- like substance that collects underneath the prepuces of uncircumcised women.

    A recent study by Sitt Al Banat Khalid ‘Khitan Al-Banat Ru’ yah Sihhiyyah’ (2003) has shown that female circumcision, like male circumcision, offers considerable health benefits, such as prevention of urinary tract infections and other diseases such as cystitis affecting the female reproductive organs.

    The latest is the study Orgasmic Dysfunction Among Women at a Primary Care Setting in Malaysia. Hatta Sidi, and Marhani Midin, and Sharifah Ezat Wan Puteh, and Norni Abdullah, (2008) Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 20 (4) accessible http://myais.fsktm.um.edu.my/4480/ which shows that being Non-Malay is a higher risk factor for Orgasmic Sexual Dysfunction in women, implying that Malay women experience less problems in achieving orgasm than non-Malay women. As you know almost all Malay women in Malaysia are circumcised (undergo hoodectomy) in contrast to non-Malay women who are not. This would suggest that hoodectomy does in fact contribute to an improved sex life in women rather than diminishing it as some argue.

    Here’s another interesting news item that supports the need for a hoodectomy (Islamic female circumcision):
    Oral sex linked to cancer risk
    US scientists said Sunday there is strong evidence linking oral sex to cancer, and urged more study of how human papillomaviruses may be to blame for a rise in oral cancer among white men.

    In the United States, oral cancer due to HPV infection is now more common than oral cancer from tobacco use, which remains the leading cause of such cancers in the rest of the world.
    Researchers have found a 225-percent increase in oral cancer cases in the United States from 1974 to 2007, mainly among white men, said Maura Gillison of Ohio State University. “The rise in oral cancer in the US is predominantly among young white males and we do not know the answer as to why.”

    It is obvious that the only way men can acquire the HPV virus is through the oral stimulation of one’s partner’s clitoris which allows the virus to enter the mouth. The virus no doubt is harboured in the prepuce of the clitoris just as it has been found that HPV also resides in the foreskins of males, through the transmission of which cervical cancer occurs in females. Thus a hoodectomy could, by removing the part that harbours the virus, significantly reduce or eliminate the risk of women transmitting the virus to their male partners.

    For more benefits of Islamic female circumcision also known as hoodectomy see http://www.umatia.org/2011/Safe%20Female%20circumcision.doc

  2. Nevermind! 29/03/2012 at 5:47 PM

    Umm, interesting….

    Though it is worth spreading awareness about, thank god it is not as widely spread in Oman as elsewhere.

    This practice was never original to Islam or Arabs. It is African in origin and spread through Arabia.

  3. gsw 19/01/2012 at 11:37 AM

    You can start by not calling it circumcision!

    Circumcision is the removal of excess skin, this is castration – and mutilation – and torture.

    Using euphemisms just makes it sound harmless, or “cultural”.

    • Mona 24/01/2012 at 8:32 PM

      I am a 33 years old, I have 10 sisters, I am Omani woman. This thing never happened to me, nor to my sisters, nor to my mother, nor to my grandmother! I am not saying it does not exist, I am saying it is not everywhere. I think education is the only solution for this problem.

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