Female genital mutilation: Controversial tweet reignites debate in the Maldives

A tweet by a university professor in the Maldives, detailing the benefits (sic) of female genital mutilation (FGM) - a regressive socio-religious practice where the clitoris of a female is removed physically for non-medical reasons-- has sparked controversy in the Indian Ocean archipelago, with many calling for banning the professor from using social media platform

Shraddha Nand Bhatnagar Jun 28, 2021
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Female genital mutilation

A tweet by a university professor in the Maldives, detailing the benefits (sic) of female genital mutilation (FGM) - a regressive socio-religious practice where the clitoris of a female is removed physically for non-medical reasons-- has sparked controversy in the Indian Ocean archipelago, with many calling for banning the professor from using social media platform. 

Last week, Dr. Mohamed Ilyaz, a professor at the Maldives National University, tweeted an article posted on an Islamic website. The article, he mentioned, describes the so-called benefits of female circumcision. It stirred a major outcry among the public and rights activists, including some Muslim scholars, who have long been advocating against the cruel practice.

Now, the country’s Supreme Council of Fatwa, the religious body in the Maldives, is soon going to release religious directives on the issue. As the pressure builds up on authorities for actions, Maldives’ Islamic Ministry is reportedly preparing a request note to the Supreme Council for an appropriate response, Maldives’s Sun news said. 

Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Ibrahim, the president of the country’s Supreme Council, confirmed, they would issue a relevant edict in two to three days. 

Despite years of awareness campaigns, the practice is still prevalent in many sections of Muslim societies around the world, including in India. And, it is widely considered anti-women, and against the dignity of females.

It involves the partial or complete removal of the clitoris, manually or surgically, of a female. Over the years, many Muslim countries have banned the practice. 

Not only it curtails a woman’s right to sexual pleasure but also poses immediate and long-term health risks, including psychological issues. 

The World Health Organization calls FGM "a violation of the human rights of girls and women".  WHO is not only opposed to all forms of FGM, but is opposed to health care providers performing FGM, the WHO website sys. 

According to a February 2020 report by UNICEF, there are still over 200 million girls and women in the world who have had their genitals mutilated. In the Maldives, alone 13 percent of women aged between 13-49 went through the FGM. 

Over the years, the UNICEF data showed, the practice is dying out in the Maldives. Only one percent of girls aged between 15-19 years went through it. While among women aged between 45-19, the percentage is 38, according to the data available on the UNICEF website. 

In southern Maldives, which is considered more conservative in comparison to the north, the practice is a bit more prevalent. As the threat of religious extremism is growing in the Maldives, right activists feel there are chances that hardliners would try to reverse the years of social progress on the issue. 

(SAM)

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