by Azra Adenwala
Country: United States / India
(Read the Hindi translation of this article here.)
I never truly thought about my khatna (circumcision) until a while ago when I came across the organization Sahiyo. To be honest, I had no idea what it meant in the first place. It was when I started reading articles by other women who had experienced khatna that I realized that I, too, was a victim of this gruesome practice. I had simply buried this memory deep for I could not fathom what it meant or where it stemmed from.
I was probably 5 or 6 years old. I was with my family on vacation – somewhere in Gujarat, as far as I can recall. I do not remember anything else from this trip, except certain painful bits and pieces. I remember being taken into a dingy bathroom, with a man or a woman in all white. I remember seeing scissors, and I remember seeing blood. I remember crying, as a bandage was applied to my genitals. I do not remember anyone telling me why or what had just happened to me. Everything seemed to go on as usual, as if nothing out of the blue occurred and I simply accepted this as it was for, I had no idea what had been done to my body.
I have not really been scarred due to my khatna and it has not altered my life in any way. However, what makes me cringe is the fact that this was my body, and no one had or has the right to make any changes to it, especially such unhealthy ones just because “it is how it is”.
I remember, three years back, when I got my first tattoo. When one of my extended family members saw this tattoo on my body, they told me, “You are a Muslim, and our religion dictates that your body must be returned to its grave exactly how it came out from the mother’s womb”. In other words, we must not make any alterations to our body and accept it as it has been given to us by god. If this is the case, then why were my genitals mutilated? What sort of hypocrisy is this?
A religion cannot create rules based on what suits it. At some point, we need to realize the fact that it is us who have created religion in the first place. And we need to stop following rituals just because “tradition demands it”. We live in a modern society and we got to where we are right now because we embraced change. Female genital circumcision cannot dictate a woman’s faith in Islam. I find it extremely shallow, and I do not think anyone should be subjected to this practice, especially little children who have no idea what is happening to them.
I might not have been adversely affected, but there are a number of women out there who have. Every woman must have the right to her own body for there is no point in having faith in a god that apparently condones such a horrible and inhuman practice.