This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Saumya Sahni. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

More About The Disturbing Practice Of Female Genital Mutilation And Organizations Working Against It

More from Saumya Sahni

By Saumya Sahni:

Worldwide crimes against women have garnered a lot of attention lately. Be it the Middle East, Egypt, Africa or our very own India, no single day passes where we do not hear cases of violence being inflicted upon women. What is even more appalling is the fact that in these times of so many upsurges against crimes, we still continue to have abhorrent practices all over the world which go unreported. We have still not been able to deal with rapes, murders, dowry deaths and many more forms of heinous crimes like these.

When one hears Demba Diawara’s (Demba Diawara is the Senegalese village chief and imam) constant struggle for putting an end to the atrocious tradition of female genital mutilation in the western parts of Africa, one can easily conclude that practices which are carried out under the blindfold of “protecting a girl’s virginity” do a lot more harm than good. It has to be clearly understood that there is more to female genital mutilation than what meets the eye.

female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation as defined by the World Health Organisation is a traditional practice of altering or causing injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. This has been mostly equated with countries like Africa, some Middle Eastern states and in some parts of Asia as well. It is typically carried out between the age of four and puberty and is usually performed without anaesthesia by traditional circumciser using a knife.

Though this practice is not much prevalent in India except a particular sect of the Muslim Shia community who term this practice as “khatna”, it is very much prevalent across Africa. An estimated 125 million girls and women primarily in Africa have had their genitalia cut, scraped, or sewn up. The statistics are indeed alarming. As insensitive and demeaning as it may sound, but the reasons for carrying this out differs from region to region. According to Wikipedia, in some societies, the procedure is performed to differentiate between the genders based on the belief that the clitoris confers masculinity on a girl and the foreskin of a boy makes him feminine. If we carefully look into the deeper aspect of female genital mutilation, it is a backward traditional ritual carried out to raise a girl properly and prepare her for adulthood and marriage.

What really upsets me is the whole notion of causing pain to a female only to satisfy one’s regressive mindsets. Female genital mutilation has a slew of hazardous impacts on a girl’s marital life as well. These include- recurrent urinary and vaginal infections, chronic pain, infertility, fatal haemorrhaging, epidemical cysts, and complications during childbirth. Adding on to it, procedures are carried out by traditional circumcisers who use unhygienic instruments which furthers complicates the situation.

A procedure as abhorrent as this, needs to be checked urgently. Though steps are being taken but still putting a curb to it seems to be a farfetched dream. Sensitization is needed towards the treatment of a girl’s body. It is no animal’s skin. Causing bodily harm to a creature can never justify some really rhetorical regressive mindsets. The statistics might be coming down, but still a lot more needs to done to cure the mindsets.

We do have some NGOs working towards the cause and it would be heartening if more people come up with more such organizations so that the elimination of such procedures becomes easy and speedy.

1. Tareto Maa– This organisation provides shelter and education for 104 girls who have run away from FGM. They conduct talks and publish brochures aimed at reaching parents who are pro-female genital mutilation. The girls are also role models for the community; visible symbols of what girls can achieve if they are enabled to flourish. It has its headquarters in Kenya.

2. The Ban FGM Campaign– This is not an organization but it works towards the cause. The Campaign for a worldwide ban on female genital mutilation aims to promote the adoption of a Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly banning this widespread and systematic human rights violation.

3. No Peace without Justice– The overall objective of the FGM program is to develop a political, legal and social environment that challenges attitudes and behaviours on FGM and works towards its elimination, in the context of the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls. The program builds the strategic capacity of women’s rights advocates and field practitioners working on female genital mutilation and promotes legal reform as an effective tool for behavioural change.

All in all, female genital mutilation is just a result borne out of the patriarchal notions of society. It is painful and has a lot of life threatening effects. Why is expressing your sexual desire when you are a female, a taboo? Why do parents follow these mindless traditions just to make sure that their daughter can please somebody else after she gets married? Why a girl’s virginity is always frowned down upon? These are some really important questions which need to be pondered over and over again till the time this menace prevails in the nations worldwide.

You must be to comment.
  1. K.B.Srivastava

    Author is right. But at least there is a question of rape, government should provide to all girls a pistol with bullets containing anaesthesia to get the culprits unconscious before rape as is done in case of treatment of lions. At least, there is a question of dowry, there are no cases of dowry in Russia, Europe and America etc. So India should also adopt their culture.

More from Saumya Sahni

Similar Posts

By Ajay Amitabh Suman

By Piyush

By Sudipta Mishra

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below