Law and FGM in Asia

The context of the anti-FGM law in Asia

Contrary to common belief that FGM is practiced only in Africa and a few countries in Asia, there is growing evidence that FGM/C takes place across the world, in numerous countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and North America, amongst indigenous and/or diaspora communities. A study release in 2020 by Equality now shows that FGM is actually practiced in 92 countries, and that only 51 of those have enacted laws to fight FGM (Equalty Now,2020).

In her blog titled: I am an FGC survivor who is finally having her #MeToo moment, Farzana Doctor describes the practice among the Dawoodi Bohras, a sub-section of Ismaili Shia Islam in Mumbai, India and is known there as khatna or khafd.

Even though the Borhras are mainly locatated in Asia, the majority being in India and Pakistan, there are now diaspora communities in the Middle East, East Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, and parts of Asia. Khatna is seen as a key part of the Dawoodi Bohra community’s culture and has been highlighted in recent years through the research and awareness-raising that has been successfully carried out by Sahiyo and Speak out on FGM. (28 Too many, 2019).

FGM is practised in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and Indonesia; however, none of these countries are supported by the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Abandonment of FGM (Wiley online library, 2020)

A modified version of the original graphic by Equality Now

The legal situation in Southeast Asia

Singapore

There is no law banning the practice of FGM in Singapore, and the government remains silent on the issue yet some clinics offer to perform the procedure for less than 20 dollars.

Indonesia

There were attempts of banning FGM in 2016 by the government of Indonesia. It was reported though that due to pressure from religious groups, the government has now moved away from that decision. Instead, to accommodate the religious and cultural considerations, the government issued regulations allowing for medical staff to carry out what they termed ‘less intrusive’ methods to ensure more safety for girls.

Malaysia

There is no law against FGM in Malaysia, in fact, FGM is considered FATWA(Mandatory), unless under special conditions where it would be considered harmful). In 2012, the health ministry in Malaysia called for the practice to be standardized, adding its weight behind the practice and normalizing it. (The Borgen project, 2020)

“The Community of Practice on Female Genital Mutilation” is part of the “Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM” project, supported by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM”.
The project is coordinated by AIDOS in partnership with GAMS Belgium.

The views expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UNFPA, UNICEF or any other agency or organization.

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