HRCM warns of revival of female circumcisions in Maldives

Children walk along a beach in a Maldivian island. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Muzain Nazim)

Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) warned on Saturday that research shows a revival of the practice of female circumcisions or female genital mutilations in Maldives.

Female circumcisions were eradicated in Maldives in the 1970s.

Many nations have eradicated the practice following extensive campaigning by World Health Organization (WHO) and the global community after research highlighted the practice has no health benefits, and leads to lifelong serious health issues, and even fatalities.

In an appearance on RaajjeTV’s Fala Suruhee show on Saturday night, HRCM member Shifaath Abdul Razzaq said research shows a revival of the practice of female circumcisions in Maldives.

“Research shows a revival of this practice in Maldives. That there are people who encourage this and who conduct such circumcisions. We need extensive research and the most accurate statistics to address this,” she said.

Shifaath said female circumcisions have a detrimental effect on the reproductive health of women, and cause great harm.

This was included on the shadow report submitted by Maldives under the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The shadow report, submitted on May 21, highlights challenges in countering domestic violence, exploitation and empowerment of women, extent of women’s representation in the political and social arena, education and employment opportunities, maternal health and reproductive health.

Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath announced work on drafting a bill to criminalize female circumcisions in November last year.

UNICEF states one in every 10 women are circumcised in Maldives.

Referencing a demographic and health survey in 2016-2017, UNICEF that most of the women subjected to circumcision as young girls are now 45-49 years of age.

The survey showed 38 percent of women between 45-49 years were circumcised, but that the practice had been nearly eradicated in the later generations.

Most of the circumcisions were on girls in Male’ region and southern atolls.

Of the people of 15-49 years who took part in the survey, only 10 percent believed female circumcision to have any religious basis.