I was 7 years old when Khatna happened during my summer vacation to India. I am sure my mother must have looked for other avenues to have khatna done on me in Kuwait but unfortunately since Kuwait is such a strict Muslim country wherein even an abortion is prohibited, she had to take me to India. The mid wife convinced me that she was trying to remove a (non-existent) worm from my privates, that too in a non-medical set up. I remember her surgical toys, how she just laid me on the floor and boom I spat out a loud cry!!
Funny part, there was a boy my age there who was also getting a circumcision. Good for his penis!
I remember what happened but I never knew the actual reason for it until I went to college and met another well-read Bohra girl who then enlightened me that what had happened to me was not something normal, it was not right! I really didn’t understand what she meant, but then I researched and read about all types of FGM being performed and I realized what happened to me was Type 1. I even asked my other Muslim friends if they were circumcised. Of course the answer was, “What the hell are you even talking about?”
I didn’t know how to confront my parents about it because all my life I just thought khatna must be essential just like a vaccination of some kind. When I did confront them, it was so upsetting for me to learn that they didn’t even feel sorry for what they did to me. They simply said it was a tradition that Bohras have been following for years and if I want, I have the will to not continue this for my daughters. Simple! I am enraged even as I write this. I had to accept my fate and move on but I did make them realize that what they did was wrong and unnecessary.
I am 29 today and no, I don’t face any of the issues that have been discussed on this forum like being depressed, traumatized, or broken. And no, I don’t face any issues with an orgasm or stimulation. But again, that does not mean that I support this nonsense. The simple pleasures of life that god has bestowed upon us, why should anyone take that away from us?
I did visit a gynecologist recently and I had to ask her to check if my clitoris looks normal. Her response was “It’s almost there.” From what I understand,Type 1 FGM is where they remove the clitoral hood. My doctor said that my hood is very much there, but a snip on my clit was visible enough to know that something was wrong. She seemed confused and that’s when I had to explain to her that Khatna happens in India too. She was shocked as itwas new information for her. She was from Chennai; little does she know it’s probably being practiced there too.
Whenever I end up in a discussion about Khatna with my Bohra friends who have cut their daughters, they have no space for a logical debate. There are also parents who are aware of this wrongdoing and who have decided not to practice this on their daughters, but they are not involved in any sort of a debate with others. Which is great and it’s the best way to deal with it. To each his own!
I have been following Sahiyo on Twitter and I do read the chain of ongoing debates. And in between I come across arguments by Bohra doctors who support this illegitimate act with on the grounds of equal rights between men and women for circumcision. It made no sense to me, but one male doctor said that if men can be circumcised for medical reasons, women in our community have the rights to do so as well for hygienic reasons. Really? I still have had a UTI and Candidiasis even after being circumcised!
To that doctor: it’s great that you care about us so much, but if that’s the case, then ask us for our consent on this matter. We have the right to say yes or no just like in our marriages. Educate us about khatna in the madrasas. Teach us the medical benefits of this act. Enlighten us but only when we have hit puberty and not when we are naïve and gullible. Allow us to do our own research and decide for ourselves whether we want to get snipped or not.