End FGM – Save our daughters

By: Arwa 

Country of Residence: India

Today, I’m referring the most underrated topic ‘khatna’ or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C). I call it underrated because it doesn’t seem like educated persons in my society are talking about it even a little bit. It’s also called ‘Khafz’ in Islamic terms, and it’s a ritual in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Khatna usually takes place at the age of seven with girls. In the process of khatna, they cut the tip of the female sexual part ‘clitoris’ from the female genitalia with the use of a crude blade without giving any precautions. The purpose of doing that is to curb sexual desires. In some countries, it’s illegal, but India has no laws against khatna or FGM/C.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers it harmful for girls in many ways and has no health benefits. It includes damaging healthy tissues in females and causes trouble with the natural function of girls’ bodies. Many survivors have experienced pain, lifelong physical and psychological trauma. Some immediate complications include: 

  • Severe pain;
  • Excessive bleeding;
  • Vaginal infections;
  • Wound healing problems;
  • Shock;
  • And in some cases death.

Firstly, let me make this clear, I’m not against any religion but also do not support any religion in that way. What I mean is, I’m not against any religion but also I don’t have blind faith in it. I think there’s a major difference between beliefs and faith that our society needs to understand. I believe: If you do good, you will get good.

I have read many articles on FGM/C. Community guidelines say ‘khafz take place for maintaining the taharat (pureness) and for spiritual purity.’ After reading it I felt like I would burn from inside, what has the world come down to. My heart was broken. Cutting out a human body part for spiritual purity; why would god give you something which makes you spiritually impure and then ask you to cut it off to become spiritually pure? I really don’t understand the logic behind FGM/C. What is the point of education that you are talking about? We are nurturing ourselves with modern education, reading about all atrocities going on in the world, when the same thing happens in our society; we are blind folded letting this happen. 

Many people have said that khatna is a good thing to do. It decreases sexual desires. So to that I ask, how do you know that a girl at age seven has sexual desires? Some had written in an article that it keeps the girl decent so girls won’t enter into adultery later, so on that I’m asking, where is the evidence of that? 

If we want our daughters to be pure, let’s teach them that they are strong and powerful women. They are in control of their own minds and bodies and they can use them wisely. 

When she was born, you promised to protect her.

At the age of seven, they trust their family and parents the most. Parents tell them not to interact with strangers or not to let anyone touch you in your private areas, still it’s the family who takes them for khatna and allows strangers to touch and cut their girl’s clitoris. Why do something terrible to your girl which can leave scars on a mental level? People have to change their minds about old rules and regulations which they follow in the name of ‘tradition’. Families have a big role in ending FGM/C or khafz. Protect our girls.

Our girls matter!

I want to say a few things. I’m talking about this not for the sake of talking but for contributing to the voice that the Islamic religion (Bohra) seems to be avoiding. They have been avoiding it for years, but you can make sure they don’t avoid contributing by talking about this.

Social media, I honestly believe, is one of the most powerful platforms. 

Otherwise also suppose- You are a teacher – you can probably discuss with your institution at the next assembly you can talk to your students about this. If you are in company you can hold a meeting in your office and talk about child abuse. Talk about this issue a little bit and tell people they need to speak up too. Maybe you can organise an activity or webinar regarding this issue. Whatever is in your capacity or power, do it please. It’s a harmful and outdated practice that needs to stop. Use your voice. It will definitely take time to go away but it doesn’t mean we keep sitting quietly.

They are survivors, not victims.

I’m a modern feminist and Bohra girl. I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor. I almost sat quietly, i didn’t talk about it but then I realised I must and so must you. Time to step forward for our daughters.

Protest, speak up, fight for your daughters and let’s hope that the world changes for the better. 

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