Female Genital Mutilation: An Attack on Female Sexuality


“But mother did you even truly survive it? The carving, the cutting, the warm blade against the inner thigh. Scalping. Deforestation leveling the ground. Silencing the devils tongue between your legs, maybe you did?”

                                     Warsan Shire, Girls                                


FGM or Female Genital Mutilation, a practice of the Bohras, an Islamic minority community belonging to the Shias, is  considered  one of the cruellest practices that exist in the world and has led to a gross violation of human rights and child abuse.

A petition against this practice was started in India from December 2015 by a group of Bohra women who had experienced the trauma of female circumcision. The goal of their anti-FGM campaign “Speak Out On FGM” is to ban this cultural maltreatment practiced on women and young girls. This was launched on Change.org and has to date, received approximately 45,000 signatures.

6 February is observed as Zero Tolerance Day on FGM. Masooma Ranalvi along with 50 other Bohra women have decided to conduct this awareness campaign for a month to bring about a closure to FGM in India. The title of their campaign is relevant. Young girls and women are not willing to share the most painful part of their sexual history. If the survivors of this horrible practice can overcome their inhibitions and come out in the open to share their experiences, then perhaps there is hope to save other innocent girls.  It is all the more crucial because the practice of FGM is a clandestine business.

The UN General Assembly in December 2012 had passed a resolution to ban FGM throughout the world.

“FGM has mostly been spoken about in whispers, up until now,” Preethi Herman, country head of Change.org in India, told the BBC.

UN reports have confirmed that about 200 millions girls have faced FGM.

The Bohras originated from Yemen and settled to various parts of the globe including India, the Middle East and Africa. The operation which is done to avoid sexual promiscuity, involves having the tip of their clitoris operated, or the complete removal of the clitoral hood and the labia majora. One need not mention the excruciating pain and the health risks that follow the circumcision. Excessive menstrual pain followed by greater vaginal discharge and urinary tract infections and complications during pregnancy and child birth are very common.

Usually it is carried out by midwives with no anaesthesia at all. Indeed, there are very few doctors practicing FGM. When a girl turns seven, she is accompanied by her aunt or her mother to the house of a midwife and girls have spoken about how sudden and humiliating the traumatic incident can be.

Masses of innocent women succumbing to this cruel practice reflects on the onslaught of humanity at all levels. The oddity about this particular socio-cultural practice is it does not have its basis in any religion. It once again highlights how any kind of abuse of rights is usually on the basis of biased and hypocritical mindsets. Women are already fed up with the complete violation of their rights and the attack on their sexual liberty that comes in one form or other every day. There is no difference between a woman who is a victim of rape and one who is a survivor of FGM or a survivor of domestic abuse . The common thread is, in some way or the other, a woman does not have any choice over her anatomy. Which makes one come to the conclusion that FGM is nothing but a disciplined slaughter of female sexuality.  The irony that lies in the heart of the matter is the fact that the Bohras are one of the most affluent and educated communities of the world. From here, we get another standpoint: education and affluence are never enough to check unscientific practices. The question then is: what is?

The surprising fact about FGM is how can  mothers, grandmothers who themselves had lived through the horrors of the blade can rejoice in the feeling of déjà vu and make their girls go through the same pain? Their silent propaganda encourages the misogynistic society to exercise its own form of silence is consent policy and abuse females in every way.

Other than India, anti-FGM campaigns have started in many other parts of the globe. This is nothing less than a culture shock to the Bohras. But most importantly, one has to bring the CHANGE. The need of the hour is ACTION. But the question that again comes on the surface is: When will the Change come about and who will bring the change?

In Australia, in the year 2012, three women of the Bohra community had to undergo trial and later face arrest in 2014 for practicing khatna on little girls. There has been mixed opinion about it by Indian Bohras. While some felt it was not fitting that the Bohras settled in Australia had carried out FGM despite the fact it was illegal, others were skeptical of the existence of such a law. There was also the opinion that the practice cannot be practiced or eradicated in parts of the globe. There should be a uniformity because it is affects the collective future of the Bohra community.

It was also reported by UN’s deputy humanitarian conductor in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock that the ISIS is forcing Iraqi women to undergo FGM. The ISIS has denied about having anything to do with the enforcement of circumcision. Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code gives adult girls the power to file a case against people forcing them to undergo mutilation.

CNN had interviewed both propagandists and victims of FGM. They had uploaded the videos of the stories on February 6, 2016. Those favouring the practice had sated they don’t want their young girls to go after men, have affairs and get ‘spoiled’. Besides the girls don’t cry during the mutilation because crying is shameful. They rather “enjoy the pain”.

On the other hand there are women who oppose this practice because they never had any choice. As women, Renata Beraud, one of the survivors of FGM originating from Kenya  said,

“ You feel like you know a woman you know you don’t feel complete because there’s something there that’s missing that should have been there and that should have never  been taken away.”

Article by Swastisha Mukherjee
Edited by Rohini Srinivasan


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *