New parents in Singapore were shocked when they brought their newborn baby daughter to the hospital and came back to find something horrifying.
The parents left their 1-month-old daughter in the care of a Muslim doctor and nurse at the hospital, and returned to learn that the doctor had performed female genital mutilation on her.
FGM is an ancient ritual that is observed by most Muslim Malays in Singapore. Though the practice is legal, it is mostly kept quiet around the country.
“In my own circle of friends who are Malay and Muslim, 100 percent have been cut,” Filzah Sumartono, with the women’s rights group AWARE, told Reuters. “But it is very hidden. Whenever I bring up the subject with non-Malay they're shocked and can't believe it happens in Singapore.”
The practice is typically carried out before the age of 2 and often involves cutting the tip of the clitoris.
“Even within the community we don't discuss this much,” she told the website. “If a male baby gets circumcised there is this big celebration and prayer ritual, but if it is a female baby it's quite quiet. It's usually only the mother or grandmother making the decision. Sometimes the father doesn't even know.”
The cutting, Sumartono added, is generally done only by doctors.
“We know five or six clinics offer the procedure -- at around 20-35 Singapore dollars ($15-$26),” she said. “There's no legislation. It's done openly. You can just call up to make an appointment.”
In some African countries, FGM is a process that involves completely removing a female’s external genitalia. In Singapore, the practice is generally more mild, though Sumartono still believes it is a violation of women’s rights.
“What I get from talking to my community is, 'Oh, it's just a small cut so why are you complaining?’” she said. “But at its foundation, it is really an act of violence against women. At infancy already, the child is taught that your body is not your own.”
Despite the practice of FGM not being mentioned in the Koran, many Muslims - men and women alike -- believe it was something the prophet Mohammad endorsed.
“Female circumcision, if done in the proper manner as prescribed by our Prophet Mohammad, ought to be continued,” a Malay women said.
A recent U.N. report showed that FGM is practiced in around 30 countries, though some believe the number is closer to 45.
Many readers condemned the doctor for the controversial and brutal procedure he performed.
“He needs to be held accountable!!!! This is barbaric and WRONG! I'd be in jail if this was my child! I'd be performing my own version of a circumcision and cutting off all his 'parts' with a dull knife. He could take them home in a jar!!” one Newsiosity reader commented.
“You don't leave a baby in the hospital alone!! EVER!! That poor little baby has to live with it the rest of her life. What a morbid thing to do to a female no matter their age. God help that baby!!!” another added.