Article by Sabir Hussain, The North-Eastern Chronicle
Visuals by: Abhiskar Banik
Chastity is something that means ‘purity’ and not engage in sexual activities. This particularly refers to women. But never anyone has thought that this ritual can be converted into something so bizarre. We have heard about male circumcision but have you heard about female circumcision? Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a non-medical practice that removes female genitals.
Types of Femal Circumcision
There are four types of FGM. Type 1 is known as clitoridectomy, where the clitoris is removed. Type 2 is known as Excision, where both the clitoris and labia are removed. Type 3 is known as Infibulation, narrowing the opening part of the vagina, often with the help of stitching. In Type 4, all various procedures which are not included in other Types happen in Type 4. This involves pricking, stretching, scraping, and even using acid to mutilate the genital.
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FGM is practised all over the world but it is predominant in 30 countries. This practice is often done under the age of 18 and sometimes under the age of 5. This practice causes many problems like bleeding, childbirth, urinating, menstruating, having sex, mental health issues. FGM cannot be considered a cultural practice. It is a way of child abuse.
In India, The Ministry of Women and Child Development reported in December 2017 that “there is no official data or study which supports the existence of FGM in India.” Earlier, in May 2017, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi announced that the government will ban FGM if it is not voluntarily stopped.
However, it is still believed as a religious practice. It is practised by Dawoodi Bohra Muslims. They believed that cutting the parts will make a woman remain ‘pure’. Moreover, they used to stitch the vagina to not engage in sexual activities before marriage, and their future husbands will open the stitches.
In February 2018, the network released a study named ‘The Clitoral Hood A Contested Site’ that said that 75% of girls were gone through FGM. 97% of women said it to be painful and 33% of women said that it badly impact their sexual life.
However, Samina Khanwala, Secretary of the Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association said that the practice is harmless and it is more like male circumcision and will continue as per Article 25 which guarantees the freedom of conscience, the freedom to profess, practise, and propagate religion to all citizens.
Male Circumcision does not have any risk, unlike Female Circumcision. Dr Shahbir Ally, Canadian imam and a former President of the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre International in Toronto, says during an interview, ” The Quran doesn’t say anything about circumcision at all whether for male or female Circumcision”.
This is the time, we just have to end this practice. We can end it by spreading education by talking more about FGM, including it in the syllabus. Sharing stories of women who have undergone FGM, making laws and policies.