Female circum… whaaaaat?

I was shocked to learn from Naomi yesterday that female circumcision is practiced in Singapore. I had no idea.

You learn a lot from motherhood forums, where Naomi stumbled upon discussions on whether to circumcise, where to circumcise, how to do it and how much is done and how much is charged.

I’ve always thought that female circumcisions were only carried out in some tribes in Africa, and that there was never any religious basis for doing so.

Further googling the subject:

In Singapore’s small Muslim community, female circumcision involves nicking the prepuce, the skin covering the clitoris.

It is markedly different from the practices of some Muslim communities in Africa and the Middle East decried by human rights activists as female genital mutilation. In those cases, a young girl’s clitoris is clipped and burned. In a few communities, all the external genitals are cut off and the remnant tissue is sewn up to leave only a small opening.

Those practices originated 1,400 years ago, before the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, says Noor Aisha Binte Abdul Rahman, a professor at the National University of Singapore.

Singapore’s milder form is viewed as symbolic of this tradition.

But anyway, I’ve always known male circumcision to be ‘compulsory’ among Muslim males, and I’ve a story of a friend of mine who’s Muslim, but whose mother managed to hide him from the circumcisor’s (is that what they’re called?) scissors until he was about eight or ten years old, when he was found out by his mosque mates, presumably when they went to the loo together.

My friend was dragged kicking and screaming to the circumcision table and given the sunat. His mother, heartbroken and guilt-ridden by her only son’s wails and pleas, bought him an Apple computer to help soothe him as he recovered.

A few years ago this friend and I were talking about computers, and he was complaining that his laptop was on the blink. He couldn’t afford a new one at the time, and said that he thought about asking his mother for a loan, but decided against it eventually, because “I think my mother will sunat me again”.