‘I am relieved more parents are saying no to female circumcision’

on 5 FEBRUARY, 2016. Republished here with permission.)

Country: Singapore

Community: Malay

By Zuby Eusofe 

I was six years old when I was forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) aka sunat perempuan. I was in a deep sleep and all of a sudden, I felt a sharp prick on my clitoris. I was shocked, clueless and traumatised. I didn’t know what was happening to me. When I opened my eyes, I saw my late mum, my aunt and an old lady, who seemed to be in her sixties, gathered around me. I was still wearing my baju kurung (Malay traditional clothes) but my underwear was gone. After putting me through that ordeal, they asked me to get up and try to walk in my clothes but without my underwear.

The thought of going through this so-called “religious ritual” traumatized me for quite awhile. I remember having nightmares about it too.

I am relieved that more and more parents are saying no to FGM. Now that I have a son, I will educate him not to practice FGM when he has a daughter with his future family. This practice has to end. Even though there are still quite a handful of Muslim parents who practice the ritual just to please the elders, I think they should also prioritise their child’s well-being.

A recent study by Oxford University [1], suggests that babies feel pain just like adults. The researchers found that 18 of the 20 brain regions active in adults when they experienced pain were also active in babies. MRI scans also showed that babies’ brains had the same response to a weak ‘poke’ (of force 128mN) as adults did to a stimulus that was four times as strong (512mN) which actually suggests that babies have a much lower pain threshold.

Therefore, I believe that as parents we should not practise such traumatizing birth rituals. We should strive to abolish the practice of FGM for the sake of our next generation of daughters.

[1] http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2015-04-21-babies-feel-pain-adults

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