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Yes, Female Genital Mutilation happens in India; here’s everything you need to know

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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 and long, they cut off your clitoris, and say it’s in the name of culture. All this when you’re a young girl of seven, or eight, or nine.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)–also known as khatna or khafz in the Muslim Bohra community, where it is practised in India–does not have any laws in India banning it. The United Nations has declared female genital mutilation a human rights violation, and yet, the act is not banned in India.

Why do some girls have to go through the torture?

In the community, the clitoris part of a woman’s vagina is also known as ‘haraam ki boti’ or ‘source of sin’ or more simply, ‘unwanted skin’. The idea behind cutting off this part of the vagina is padded with centuries of patriarchy–if a woman knows the pleasure she can receive through it, she might go “astray” in the marriage, or bring “shame” to the community.

For the uninitiated, the clitoris has more nerve endings than anywhere else in the female human body. So, depending on how sensitive a woman’s clitoris is, they either derive absolute pleasure from it, or its stimulation can sometimes even lead to pain. The most interesting nugget of information is that the sole purpose of the clitoris is to derive pleasure. No other male or female organ is designed only for pleasure, according to psychologytoday.com.

Image for representational purposes only. Picture courtesy: Instagram/kimydee03

Who cuts the clitoris?

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Untrained midwives or older women in the community are usually the ones carrying out this procedure. The procedure is carried out usually with a knife or a blade, on girls aged anywhere between six and 10–the idea is to “get it over with” before they hit puberty.

More often than not, girls end up getting unwanted infections, have to tolerate extreme pain, or just end up bleeding for days together, because of the lack of training of the women performing these procedures.

How does FGM effect women later in life?

Cases of some women blocking out the horrid experience completely have been reported. They don’t even know what’s been done to their body. It’s a very effective psychological way of blocking out pain from early years; minor rape victims have been reported using the same defense mechanism to “erase” the painful memory.

Even the ones who remember look at sexual intercourse as just an activity they need to do after marriage; the idea of pleasure thrown out of the window.

“I don’t think I ever enjoyed sex in my marriage. I often wonder what it would have been like if I hadn’t been cut. The sad part is I will never know,” a mother from the Bohra community of Mumbai, who chooses to remain anonymous, told Hindustan Times.

Image for representational purposes only. Picture courtesy: Instagram/ranawrites

The irony is, the Bohra community is known to be a more “open” Muslim community than most others, as it allows for its girls to get an education and travel, if they wish to.

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Why is India becoming a hub for FGM?

The Muslim Bohra community is spread over the western cities of India, Pakistan, Yemen, East Africa, and some strewn parts of America and Australia.

India is now becoming a hub for FGM because of the recent legal action taken against FGM among Bohras in Australia and USA. In 2016, Australia sentenced three Dawoodi Bohras to 15 months in jail under the country’s female genital mutilation law. In 2017, United States officials arrested two doctors in Detroit for allegedly cutting the private parts of six girls; the trial is still underway.

In India of 2018, however, a law against female genital mutilation remains to be formed.

 

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