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Female Genital Mutilation(FGM), referred commonly as female circumcision, incorporates a number of procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs without any actual medical necessity.
World Health Organisation(WHO) has identified four major types of FGM which are as follows:
1. Clitoridectomy: Partial or total removal of the clitoris.
2. Excision: Removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia (lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (larger outer lips).
3. Infibulation: Narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia.
4. Other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, including pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
This is a horrendous act as per all the major global humanitarian and legal organizations, and is considered to be a gross violation of human rights. But, still it continues, executed often on small girls and young women that too under barbaric and totally unhygienic conditions. And, usually what follows is just an attempt to describe and ‘explain’ this act. It is proudly practiced by the Dwoodi Bohra in India – a Shia Muslim sect originating from Yemen, which settled in India back in 16th century. The community is mainly located in Maharastra and Gujarat.
Bohras list out various odd reasons to justify female genital mutilation, such as:
- FGM is like an ‘early marker’ of belonging to a particular group, perhaps carried out when the child is only a few days or weeks old– Really? In 21st century where technology is connecting people across borders, you need specifically mutilated genitals to locate people of your community? That’s ridiculously gross.
- FGM is also seen as a rite of passage, an initiation to adulthood, occurring as the girl approaches puberty and ‘becomes a woman– What about others who don’t perform this rite, are they living it all wrong?
- FGM is seen as a precautionary step to ‘preserve’ family ‘honour’– A female is not a gold brick or a tank full of petrol, which must be ‘protected’, in order to preserve family honour. Why not instead sensitise men and condition them to grow respect and a desire for equality rather than projecting violence and dominance as an ought-to-have characteristic?
- It may be done in order to ‘cleanse’ a girl, in the belief that it will become more hygienic and will stop all ‘unpleasant’ genital secretions and odours as the child develops to maturity– So, does that mean, god forgot to make a few alterations before sending mankind to earth?
- Some communities also believe men’s sexual pleasure will be enhanced by FGM- So, to arouse pleasure in men, must the female be made to suffer intense pain?
- Excision of the clitoris is believed to reduce a woman’s sexual pleasure or desire, thus reducing the likelihood that she will become sexually active with anyone other than her husband- why not instead work on building relationship between husband and wife stronger by bringing equality and respect for both?
The Scary Possible Impacts Post FGM
Severe pain, haemorrhage, Shock (sometimes death), infection of the wound, acute urinary retention (with pain and burning), abscesses and ulcers, tetanus, delay in wound healing due to infection, malnutrition and anaemia (and failure to thrive if malnourished child), chronic pelvic infection, chronic back and pelvic pain, urinary problems / incontinence / kidney failure, bladder calculus / stone formation, hypersensitivity of entire genital area, menstrual problems, Pain during sexual intercourse, unwillingness to seek general medical advice, in case FGM becomes evident, hepatitis and other infections.
Unbearable pain during intercourse, anxiety resulting in vaginal dryness, less sexual satisfaction, lack of arousal, shame or embarrassment about intimacy, much greater risk of HIV and Infertility.
Psychological vulnerability, anger, fear, anxiety, depression, confusion, lack of trust, post-traumatic stress disorder, psycho-sexual problems, hyper-arousal, hyper-vigilance, behavioral problems, relationship difficulties or disorders, emotional distance, sense of helplessness, sleep disorders, Low self-esteem and / or sense of self-entitlement, social isolation / dependent on group disconnected from the mainstream, flashbacks, stigma, and the list goes on.
If India has to nurture ambitious dreams into reality, then it first has to check and improve its ground reality, which is why it should not just discourage this heinous practice but also make sure that it is made criminalized under the Indian penal court.
So, come let’s give voice to their screams and #endFGM by signing this petition.
Image Source: theguardian