Groups dismayed by Malaysia’s FGM stand at UN rights review

Challenger Malaysia secretary-general, Jean Vaneisha, speaks to the press in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2018, following the live stream of Malaysia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations in Geneva. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Challenger Malaysia secretary-general, Jean Vaneisha, speaks to the press in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2018, following the live stream of Malaysia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations in Geneva. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — Activists and civil rights groups expressed disappointment with the government’s answers to criticism of female genital mutilation (FGM) at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review’s third session in Geneva, Switzerland, which they believed were contradictory.

Challenger Malaysia secretary-general Jean Vaneisha voiced grave concern over a Malaysian delegate’s concession that the country practised infant female circumcision while insisting that this was not considered a form of FGM.

“I disagree with that, and the fact that other countries are pinpointing this issue indicates they are watching what Malaysia is doing,” she said following the live stream of the session jointly organised by the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process (Comango) and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Sukaham).

Justice for Sisters researcher, Thilaga Sulathireh, speaks to the press in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2018, following the live stream of Malaysia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations in Geneva. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Justice for Sisters researcher, Thilaga Sulathireh, speaks to the press in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2018, following the live stream of Malaysia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations in Geneva. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Justice for Sisters researcher Thilaga Sulathireh cited the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that considers female circumcision to be a form of FGM.

“We do not want any kind of cutting, nipping of the (female sexual) organ as a whole.

“I think that is the basic idea of what was recommended by some delegates (from other countries),” she said.

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor communications manager, Mastura M. Rashid, speaks to the press in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor communications manager, Mastura M. Rashid, speaks to the press in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2018. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor communications manager Mastura M. Rashid described FGM as essentially an exercise of patriarchy.

“It was created to suppress the supposed sexual urges of women, and in 2018, as a society upholding gender equality, we should move away from cutting genitals.

“Reports from around the world have stated there is no medical benefit to FGM. If so, why is it then continued just on a cultural basis?” she said.

Comango member, Dec Lan, speaks to the press in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2018, following the live stream of Malaysia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations in Geneva. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Comango member, Dec Lan, speaks to the press in Kuala Lumpur November 8, 2018, following the live stream of Malaysia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations in Geneva. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Comango member Dec Lan briefly said the Malaysian delegation’s response of not condoning FGM, yet adding the Health Ministry has guidelines for such procedures, is “very contradictory”.

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