Female Genital Mutilation:

Verity of the inner world

How barbaric humans can be?

(We already have the answer to this, but here’s more.)

Now to draw your attention to something that has been growing right under our nose in society since the dawn of human civilization yet most of us weren’t aware of it, here I surface the information I gathered.

Khafz, Khatna, or circumcision isn’t something new. I always felt it was barbaric to cut the skin as useless as it might be but opposing it never went well(debatable topic). But what made me question humanity itself was the same thing happening to the other gender at an intensity beyond limits. 

So here’s TW: Losing sanity or Trust in humanity.

“Haraam ki boti – The sinful clump of flesh”

FGM or Female Genital Mutilation is something I came to know about a month back. Talking about the procedure, they are of 4 types. Type 1 is where they partially or completely remove the clitoris (an organ whose central role is self-pleasure.) Type 2 is where again they partially or completely remove the clitoris, labia minora, and sometimes the labia majora. Type 3 involves the narrowing or sewing up of the Vaginal opening along with the Clitoris, Labia Minora, and Majora (called the infibulation). And Type 4 includes harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example, pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, and cauterization.

Notes: 1)Deinfibulation is a surgical procedure carried out to re‐open the vaginal introitus of women living with type III female genital mutilation (FGM).

2) Reinfibulation is the procedure to narrow the vaginal opening in a woman after she has been deinfibulated (i.e. after childbirth); also known as re-suturing

So where all this started?

FGM in History: 

Supposedly originated as a slave trade practice, the history of FGM leads us back to ancient Egypt where infibulated mummies were found. The practice was also implemented on female slaves in Ancient Rome, deterring recipients from coitus and subsequent pregnancy. With its widespread prevalence, a “multi-source origin” has also been proposed, claiming that FGM spread from “original cores” by merging with pre-existing initiation rituals for men and women. It is also believed that this might be a process of population control among tribes and what started as just infibulation gradually took the shape of clitoridectomy. (Not in support of either of them.)

Present-day Kenya has a history of performing a traditional act called “The Irua” of both boys and girls. It is Type 2 FGM and the girls who have not gone through this process are called Irugu and are outcasted.

Idea Behind FGM/C:

You might have guessed by now, this practice was clearly to support the patriarchy. To conserve females as marriageable properties, to ban them from indulging in adultery, to prevent them from self-pleasure activities, the process involves the chop-chop of the organ that helps in incitation and female pleasure. This whole idea is revolving around the concept of female purity. 

FGM in India:

As Samina Kanchawala, the Secretary of DBWRF said (& acc. to Da’im al-Islam), this is the act of Taharat which forms the root of Islam (nowhere mentioned in Quran though). According to her, this process includes putting “just a nick” in the hood (which acc. to her is okay) that allows women to stay sane and surrender themselves to religious activities. Ugh!

Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra, stated in 2016: “Religious books, written over a thousand years ago, specify the requirements for both males and females as acts of religious purity.” 

So, yes “Female Genital Mutilation” is also happening in India in the Dawoodi Bohra community (ostensively one of the most educated Muslim communities), in Maharashtra, other Bohra sects including the Sulemani Bohras and the Alavi Bohras, as well as in some Sunni communities in Kerala. The Bohras are primarily traders and businessmen. In ancient times, when the men would travel to other countries, women of the house would stay behind. So to prevent these women from getting into any kind of adultery, to follow bogus traditions & to curb a girl’s sexuality, FGM was being carried out.

Barbarism Alert! :

I request you to listen to Khadija Gabla’s TedX talk to understand the intensity of female genital mutilation in the rest of the world. 

On interviewing a few women from the Bohra  Community, this horrible side of woman society came forward. On contrary to what the position holders say, all the victims of FGM in India had similar stories to share. 

(The girls of age 7 to 16 are mostly the victims of FGM). Their mother allures them to buy gifts and chocolates and take them to a dingy place (allegedly in Bheendi Bazaar). An old woman, that resembles the description of a “Dai Maa” or a midwife, prepares the set by heating the blade on a stove or a lamp. The girl is then pinned down on a flat surface, and Dai cuts the part with the heated blade in no time. And the girl is left with excruciating pain for a long time. The circumcisers or midwives are generally older women who perform the act with or without anesthesia. But in communities where the male barber has assumed the role of health worker he will perform FGM too.

Did you notice something? There aren’t many men involved in the entire process. A clear case of “a woman can be a woman’s direst enemy”, all the cases involved the mother taking her little girl to perform such an act. And I don’t even blame them completely for they are the victims themselves without even realizing it.

Effects of FGM in Women: Health complications:

By far there have been no reported health benefits of FGM (though a few supporters claim it to be a part of female hygiene). Most of the cases reported had long-term health hazards.

Immediate complications can include severe pain, hemorrhage, genital tissue swelling, fever, trauma, or tetanus.

The long-term complications include painful urination, bacterial vaginosis, painful menstruations, Dyspareunia or painful intercourse, and painful delivery.

Legal Proceedings and campaigns:

(Female Genital Mutilation has been recognized as an act against Humanity by both UNICEF and WHO.)

The world’s first known campaign against FGM was carried out in 1920 in Egypt. 

The Egyptian government banned infibulation in 1959 but allowed partial clitoridectomy if parents requested it. By 2007, Egypt had completely banned FGM followed by Australia, Iran, Iraq. Kenya had specific laws against FGM in 2001, New Zealand and Norway in 1995, South Africa in 2003, and the UK in 1985. 

November 2011, the first online petition against Khafz was filed by Bohra women. 

In February 2016, two NGOs “Sahiyo” and “We Speak Out” launched a campaign against FGM called “Each One Reach One”.

By 10th December 2016, a group of Bohra women submitted a petition against FGM in India to India’s Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. By May 2017, Maneka Gandhi announced to take the necessary steps to stop FGM in India. In September 2017, for the first time “FGM in India” issue was presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council. But in December 2017, the Ministry of Women and Child Development(India) reported zero official data on FGM in India.

In November 2019, SCI announced that FGM is a seminal issue and to be discussed alongside other women’s issues. As of now, there are no specific laws against FGM in India. It apparently is generally criminalized by the 1860 Indian Penal Code, 1973 Criminal Procedure Code, and 2012 POCSO Act (But no specific laws).

The Silver Lining:

1. In 2012, the UN General Assembly designated February 6th as the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, to amplify and direct the efforts on the elimination of this practice.

2. Since the UNICEF/UNFPA program was established in 2008, 13 countries have passed national legislation banning FGM. 

3. In 1997, WHO issued a joint statement against the practice of FGM together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

4. In 2018, WHO launched a clinical handbook on FGM to improve the knowledge, attitudes, and skills of health care providers in preventing and managing the complications of FGM.

5.Organizations like EndFGM, We Speak Out and Sahiyo are aimed at irradiating FGM for good by reaching out to people, educating the mass and standing against this brutal  belief. 

Art, Literature, and FGM: 

1. FORWARD(Artists Unite to End FGM) is a network of socially conscious artists committed to ending female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, and all violence against African women and girls.

2. Yasser Nazmy, a UI/UX Designer, designed a set of posters on traditional FGM as a part of his GD project.

3. Shinaakht is a short film, starring Raju Kher, based on Circumcision which challenges Male Gentile Mutilation (MGM) and Female Gentile Mutilation (FGM) as per Islamic Law.

4. Other movies like Jaha’s Promise, Dunia, and Desert Flower are based on female genital mutilation spread around the world and women fighting against it.

5. Here is a set of books that are based on Female Genital Mutilation, its history, and ongoing struggles.

 *Among the Maasai: a Memoir  – Author: Juliet Cutler 

* Saving Safa: Rescuing A Little Girl from FGM – Author: Waris Dirie

 *Cut Flowers – Author: Aneeta Prem 

 *Do They Hear You When You Cry – Author: Fauziya Kassindja

 *Desert Flower by Waris Dirie

*Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Conclusion:

There isn’t any yet. It’s an ongoing fight against the brutal tradition. And we have not yet arrived at any conclusions. But I hope to find words, someday, to conjure up into a beautiful sentence that says, “We(together) terminated this vicious act for good”.

Added here a set of links that would help you get clean facts about FGM. Feel free to discuss it anytime.

31 US States Now Have Laws Against Female Genital Cutting, But Government Will Not Appeal in the Federal Michigan Case

https://www.unicef.org/stories/what-you-need-know-about-female-genital-mutilation

https://reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12978-019-0817-3

http://yavuztellioglu.blogspot.com/2015/06/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-also.html?m=1

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