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Female Genital Mutilation In India: Why Aren’t We Talking About It?

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My thoughts mirror the introduction of this piece published in India Today, “They promise you a chocolate, a movie or just an outing; they take you instead to dingy, dark room, pin you to a bed, take off your pants and cut that tiny part of you that was eventually supposed to make you experience one of the greatest pleasures of being a woman. With blades, knives or anything remotely sharp or long, thy cut off your clitoris, and say it’s in the name of culture; all this when you are a young girl of seven, or eight, or nine.”

As a man, I should not have the audacity to claim that I understand the torment of the women who face this, but that does not mean I will decline its existence in this awful patriarchal country of ours. Alas, that is exactly what the people in power are doing.

But first, what exactly is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)? On Wikipedia, it is described as, “Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies FGM as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and to be specific, it is almost always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. UNICEF estimated that in 2016, 200 million women living in 30 countries- 27 African countries, Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen- had undergone this procedure.

This procedure differs from culture to culture and from one ethnic group to another, but they all mostly include removal of the clitoral hood and clitoral glans, removal of the inner and outer labia and closure of the vulva. The vagina is used for intercourse and childbirth.

This practice is actually rooted in the patriarchal mentality of male-dominated societies as they attempt to control women sexuality in the name of purity and modesty.

But the cruel practice of female genital mutilation is not only practiced in the tribal societies of African Countries but young girls aged six and seven are regularly being cut right here, in India. The Bohra community, a Shia sub sect’s young girls are regularly being sliced by untrained midwives.

FGM or Khatna as it is called by Bohras was a well-kept secret which wasn’t discussed and considered a taboo subject until a petition was brought out by 17 women who stated that they were subjected to Khatna, “there are thousands of my Dawoodi Bohra sisters who have been subjected to genital cutting as children and even today thousands of Bohra girls are being subjected to this practice, since it has been ordained by the clergy of our community.”

In the petition, they further stated, “It often leads to pain, shock, tetanus, genital sores, excessive bleeding etc. It also has a long-lasting psychological impact on the victims, ranging from sexual disorders, fear of sexual intimacy and nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

According to the petition, “a few months ago, women like me (indicating to 17 women who wrote the petition) those got together under the forum – ‘Speak out on FGM’ – to begin a conversation on this extremely secretive ritual which has caused physical and psychological damage to each of us in some way or the other.”

But the government of India with those glossy ads of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ is not taking any visible action against this brutal practice.

Though Maneka Gandhi, the Indian Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development, came out in the press after a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking ban on FGM, surprisingly the government told the Supreme court in December 2017 that they do not have any “official data” to prove the existence of FGM in India.

When many countries are banning it, and with the leadership of UN bodies, the world is waking up against this barbaric ritual, the Indian government is still hiding away from this topic and denying that it exists altogether.

What can we do now? As a man, I can, first of all, ask for forgiveness from women for being part of a society which chooses to scar them in such a horrific manner.

We can start a conversation about it. A meaningful conversation that’ll make the government see that it is still a brutal reality for many young girls who have to face its ramifications all their lives.

To sum it all up, I just want to give you a scenario to remember if you ever think that this is not that big of an issue.

Imagine being taken to a room in a dark decrepit building; imagine being pinned down on the floor; imagine your underwear being taken off; imagine seeing a knife being heated on the gas stove; imagine the same hot knife slicing your clitoris; Imagine young girls from Bohra community in India and many girls worldwide shrieking in pain.

If you have a beating heart you will get goosebumps in sheer terror and concern. Keep that terror alive and let’s all strive to eradicate this barbaric practice once and for all.

You must be to comment.
  1. Porishmita Koushik

    Man this is insanely terrorising. Good write up

  2. Muffi Zainu

    This article is poorly researched. Here are the facts:
    1) Female Circumcision practiced by Muslims around the world does is Type 1a, limited only to the foreskin (just like in the males), not the clitoris. What you’re referring to in your article is Type 3 done very rarely in Africa, and does not concern Muslims
    2) The WHO confirms that all the harms you have mentioned actually refer to Type 3, and not Type 1a as stated above.
    3) Female Circumcision has nothing to do with patriarchy because it’s women who carry out the practice, not men. As for your statement “This practice is actually rooted in the patriarchal mentality of male-dominated societies as they attempt to control women sexuality in the name of purity and modesty”, using that same logic, does that also mean the following if I replace it with male circumcision – since they are both the same procedures? Example: “This practice is actually rooted in the FEMINISM mentality of FEMALE-dominated societies as they attempt to control MEN’S sexuality in the name of purity and modesty”
    4) The dingy rooms are all anecdotal nonsense fed by liars. Female Circumcision is carried out under medical supervision in medical environments. If you had actually left your laptop, traveled and done better research you would have realized this in India, Malaysia, Indonesia & Singapore.
    Conclusion: Do better research.

    1. Nilanjana

      From the WHO website:
      Female genital mutilation is classified into 4 major types.
      Type 1: Often referred to as clitoridectomy, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).

      Also, is perpetuated by both men and women who subscribe to it’s values. All women are not feminists, just as all men are not men’s right activists.
      Women may carry out the practice, but it is very obviously something they have been conditioned to do for the sake of chastity and purity, which are tools used to control female sexuality.

  3. TAHER cool dude

    A complete false and misunderstands article with false claims. I have been personally asking the @wespeakout group to show evidence of harm but no such thing exist and Bohras don’t slice any part it’s just the small Nick on the clitoris hood . Much minor than the male circumcision so it would be better for the editor and writer to first research a topic before writting or atleast get in touch with the opposing group to get to know the actual reallity . This is shameful for a writter an on the part of journalism as a whole . Such articles are the part of #fakenews and #paidnews

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