Sara (26): Aunty ji, my best friend informed me that she was ‘cut’ when she was young. She feels hurt now and wants to forget about her khatna (circumcision). Please help us!
Aunty ji: Idhaar aa meri beti (Come here, my daughter). Come here and let me give you a very big hug – from my side and from each one of us at Love Matters India. Betiya, thank you for writing to us and for sharing your friend’s experience. Please pass on our support and love to your pyaari saheli (lovely friend).
Beta, female genital cutting (FGC) is practised worldwide, especially among young women and girls belonging to particular communities. A part of their clitoris is cut largely in the name of religion or to curb their sexuality. FGC, cutting of clitoris or khatna is condemned in more than forty countries worldwide. It has also been recognised as a violation of human rights.
Beta, it’s no surprise that your friend wants to forget about it. The memory can be very traumatising – especially now, when she has grown up and realises what has been done to her body, without her consent, as a child. Give her a big jhappi (hug) from our behalf for sharing her story.
Let’s answer your question. Can something be done about the circumcision of her clitoris (the haram ki booti, as it is graphically referred to)? Perhaps not, unless she opts for corrective plastic surgery. Uske bare mein, Sara, we are not so sure (We are not so sure of that, Sara) .
What she can do now is seek counselling from a capable counsellor. If there is any trauma, the counsellor will be able to address it. There is absolutely no shame in going for counselling or talking about it to someone. It will help your friend in reconciling and finding meaningful relationships.
Sara, encourage your friend to discover herself, her feelings and not hide away from friends and relationships. If she feels attracted to someone, encourage her to follow it. Encourage her to talk to whoever she wants to speak to.
I hope you are also encouraging your friend to talk about how her body reacts and how she is able to find joy and pleasure with her partner.
Beta, chahe kum hi sahi (even if it’s to a small degree), she can very well be a young messiah to many other girls who have experienced this, and their mothers. By sharing her own experience, she will be able to educate and inform them against this practice.
Sara: The logic given to justify FGC is that cutting the clitoris off will control the sexual urge in a girl. Are all sexual urges sitting inside a small piece of flesh? What about love, mind, feelings and emotions? Men are also often circumcised. It is often openly talked about unlike FGC. It is even celebrated. Does it ensure control over his sexuality? Does it control his urges too?
Aunty Ji: Nahin! No need for that. A man must have urges but a woman must ‘cut’ her urges off. Wah wah (bravo) – why this injustice and inequality? If a child falls down and hurts himself, the entire mohalla (locality) will run to offer him solace and relief. On the other hand, mothers and grandmothers are walking young girls to shady rooms to fulfill what has been hammered down as a religious obligation!
No god is so cruel as to use such methods to try and control a girl’s body and her sexuality.
Those who carry on this practice under the garb of religion ought to feel the deepest shame.
Sara beta, you must really be a special girl that your friend shared her feelings and her experience with you. You could help her see a counsellor, seek friends, form loving and respectful relationships in her life and be her voice – even if it is a quiet and private one.
Young and powerful girls like you must trigger a movement and spread the one-point agenda of ‘no more khatna’. Biggest hugs to you both!
If you want to share your story on female genital cutting or want to get in touch with someone working actively on this matter, visit our friends at Sahiyo now! Watch this video and join our campaign #NoMore Khatna!
Image used for representative purposes only.