Is circumcision really as harmless as it is made out to be?
We woke up to a sad news yesterday as a 17-year-old girl, Mayar Mohammad, died of severe bleeding caused by circumcision surgery in Suez, Egypt.
The practice of female circumcision or any form of female genital cutting (FGC) has been banned in Egypt since 2007 and this procedure was carried out illegally on Mayar in a private hospital.
Earlier in Egypt, a doctor’s license was revoked for killing a 13-year-old who died of similar circumstances due to a circumcision surgery. Even then the practice continues to exist, shifting more and more towards medical professionals carrying out FGC illegally.
While many people quip about the differences between circumcision and female genital cutting, these instances are a reminder of what the procedure could also lead to. A poignant reminder that circumcision within the Dawoodi Bohra community, too, is seen as a cultural imperative and that these days the practice is increasingly shifting to gynecologists who belong to the Bohra community and who believe that there is no harm in carrying it out on young girls.
Often the practice of Khatna, Khafd or Sunnat is brushed away, stating circumcision (which also falls under the category of Type 1 FGC) to be incomparable with more severe forms of Female Genital Cutting commonly known to be practiced in Africa, although some African countries practice less severe forms too, depending on the ethnic tribe involved.
The community in Egypt is known to practice circumcision and not other severe forms of mutilation, but it is hard to say what must have been the extent of cut due to which Mayar lost her life. This also holds true with Khatna among the Dawoodi Bohras. Even though it is believed to be a small nick or cut, who can claim that the procedure might not lead to severe hemorrhaging? Or because of the child’s writhing one might cut off more than necessary by accident?
As Sahiyo, we feel extremely sad to hear about this development and want our audience to ask themselves the following questions:
Can one be absolutely certain that while Khatna is performed, more than the supposed required amount of skin doesn’t get cut off by design or by default?
Just because some communities have begun to medicalize the practice, does that mean khatna holds ground scientifically, particularly when the World Health Organization has come out against all form of FGC?
Is it okay to violate a girl’s rights to her body without her consent?
This incident raises many more questions and we hope our readers will continue the dialogue on these issues, either by posting a comment or writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, In a moving facebook post Mayar’s friend went on to blame the mother.
“Mayar died due to ignorance and backwardness of her mother, who regarded her daughter as guilty only because she was created a female,” Rawan Al Jamal, classmate of the victim, mourned her in a Facebook post.
Whether the mother is to be blamed or the doctor or the system which has made the practice mandatory; sadly Mayar no longer is alive.