Traditions, rituals, culture! How do you think are traditions formed? What are rituals influenced by? What makes culture and what binds our identity to it? Well, one thing that I know for sure is that our mentality majorly affects our traditions, rituals, cultures. Patriarchy is one such deeply rooted part of our mindset that has influenced our culture and activities. The oppression of women is so common that it goes unseen. People rarely find out that there is some issue. Female Genital Mutilation is one such gory issue that has been ignored conveniently. This blog aims to throw light on Female Genital Mutilation in India – An Issue Under The Shadows. 

“We all are taught to respect our traditions, to keep intact our culture, to propagate our legacy, aren’t we? But what about the traditions who are meant to degrade us, to degrade our dignity, our individuality? We are made to abide by our elder’s perspective, but we are never taught what to do when those same elders deceive us, snatch our childhood, ruin our individuality in the name of traditions. We have always been told to protect the legacy of our religion, culture, community but not of our own self. But what should we do when such protection of the legacy harms humanity itself?”

Women are an important constituent of our society. 

Women have come a long way fighting against all the odds, rituals and traditions of patriarchal society. Old-traditions and practices signify the discrimination between men and women. They were meant to consider men superior to women.

Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation is one such practice which demarcates the extreme discrimination between the two genders. In common language, it is known as Khatna, Khafz or Khafd.

This practice gained its root from the thinking that men are superior and women are an inferior gender. Female Genital Mutilation is a common practice in sub-Saharan Africa and Arab countries. The inhumane practice got its home to some extent in Christianity and Islam. If we talk about the origin of Female Genital Mutilation in India or elsewhere, the source is vague but we can find its existence in the Egyptian mummies too.

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

Female Genital Mutilation is the process of removing female genitalia, partially or completely. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the process is classified into four types.

  • In the first type, the clitoral glans is removed partially or completely.
  • In the second type, the parts of clitoris and external genitalia of the female are partially or completely removed.
  • The third type is the most severe. It involves the removal of all parts of the external genitalia and also narrowing the vaginal orifice.
  • The fourth type is the mildest one. It involves the harm to the female clitoris and related parts by pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping or burning.

The process of female genital mutilation is often compared with the male genital circumcision. But little did everyone know that it was just a misleading comparison to the male circumcision. The male circumcision only includes the removal of the foreskin. It does not affect their sexuality in any manner. However, the scene in the female genital mutilation is totally different!

In some countries, healthcare workers perform this task of FGM. But in most of the parts, this process is done without any healthcare assistance. Mostly, it is done with the help of unsterilized razors, scissors or blades.

Female Genital Mutilation in India

The practice of female genital mutilation in India is common among the Muslim Bohra community. This community is spread over East Africa. In some western parts of India and Pakistan and in some parts of Australia and the US. Although the United Nations and some other organizations have considered the practice of FGM as a human rights violation. But still, there is no law to protect the women from such an inhumane practice in India. In fact, Female Genital Mutilation, in India, came into notice when the cases of FGM by the Bohra community in USA and Australia got international recognition.

A PIL was filed against this practice in India. Later, the Bohra community supported the practice and protected it under Article 25 and Article 26. It gives the right to protect and practice religious beliefs. There is no data which proves the existence of Female Genital Mutilation, but we all know that it is being conducted.

There are some activists who stand against Female Genital Mutilation. One such activist is a Delhi based publisher, Masooma Ranalvi, who herself was cut when she was just seven years old.

The notion behind Female Genital Mutilation

An interesting point to notice is that this procedure is practised in the name of culture and religion. But what actually gave birth to such a practice?

In the communities that practise Female Genital Mutilation, it is considered that clitoris of a woman is the ‘haraam ki booti’. In more literal language, it is known as ‘source of sin’ and hence, it should be removed. 

The old patriarchy is the mother of such practices. The clitoris of a woman is the most sensitive part of her body. As it has the maximum nerve endings in itself. So, a woman feels the maximum sexual pleasure on the clitoris. It was considered that without Female Genital Mutilation, a woman could stray her marriage. She won’t be loyal to her husband. It will definitely bring shame to the community and family. “Hence, the little organ must be removed to make her live with purity and loyalty.”

In some other notions, Female Genital Mutilation was performed to make sure that a woman remains a virgin till her marriage. And the sole male in her life would be her husband.

Bohra Community

Well, it is quite ironical that the Bohra community is reckoned as one of the most open-minded and broad thinking Muslim community. They allow their women to study, travel and live their lives. 

The most disheartening point to be noted in this whole procedure is that it is practised on a girl aged between 7 years to 14 years. “They are taken to some dingy, dark, isolated room in the name of a movie or an outing or some fun.” And then some elderly women remove their pants and perform this horrific practice with a knife or a pair of scissors or blade. The girl child is deceived by her own family, by her own mother, grandmother, by those who are hers. The girls are never told about the truth until it’s done. It comes as a surprise and stays with them for the lifetime.

Female Genital Mutilation – A Conclusion

Not only India, but the whole world must stand against the female genital mutilation. According to the reports of WHO, 200 million girls and women are the victims of this terrible practice. Female Genital Mutilation takes place on a large scale in the countries of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The practice must be banned at such places. However, India has no law that prohibits the practice. Even though, the countries banned have not yet ensured that the measures implement effectively. In fact, Sudan has banned the practice. Still, there is a long way to go. There is still a long battle to fight.

The matter is not about just the practice. But it is about the mentality behind such an evil practice. Women are no less than men in any manner. But still, they have to go through such discrimination in such a tender age. The children should bloom. The girl children should be nurtured in an unbiased manner. Such practices do nothing but ruin their life. Their perspective towards the world gets maligned forever.

Female Genital Mutilation is a matter that we must look into. Women are The Future of any country! They are proving themselves every day. Still, we are oppressing them. We must stand with the victims and against the heartless. All of us should fight for those little girls who would be tortured and terrorised for their lifetime.