હું કોની સાથે સેક્સ કરું એ મારૂં મન નક્કી કરે છે, મારૂં ક્લિટોરિસ નહિં

આ આર્ટિકલ પહેલા સહિયો દ્વારા તારીખ 22 માર્ચ 2017ના રોજ અંગ્રેજીમાં પ્રકાશિત કરવામાં આવ્યો હતો. (Read the English version here.)

લેખક :સબાહત જહાન

ઉંમર : 24
દેશ : ભારત

હું કાફૅમાં બેસીને વિચારી રહી છું કે જે રીતે મારી માંએ ધર્મના નામે મારી સાથે કર્યું તેમ, શું હું ક્યારેય મારી દિકરીને જેનિટલ અંગછેદન જેવી પીડાદાયક પ્રક્રિયા હેઠળથી પસાર થવા દઈ શકું?

હું 24 વર્ષની, જર્નાલિઝમનો અભ્યાસ કરતી એક એવા મુસ્લિમ સમાજની છોકરી છું, જે આજના યુગમાં પણ ફીમેલ જેનિટલ મ્યૂટિલેશનની પ્રથાને અંધશ્રદ્ધાપૂર્વક અપનાવે છે. અત્યાર સુધી હું માનતી હતી કે એફ.જી.એમ. મારા સારા સ્વાસ્થ્ય માટે કરવામાં આવે છે અને પેશાબ સંબંધી મારી બધી સમસ્યાઓને તેની સાથે કોઈ સંબંધ નથી. મને સમજાયું નહિં કે હું જ્યારે સાત વર્ષની હતી ત્યારે મારા ક્લિટોરિસને કાપવામાં આવ્યું હતુ અને હકીકતમાં તે એક મોટી સમસ્યા હતી.

તે પ્રક્રિયા કેવી રીતે કરવામાં આવી અથવા તે મારા માટે પીડાદાયક હતી કે નહિં તે પણ મને યાદ નથી. મેં ક્યારેય એ બાબત પર વિચાર કર્યો નહિં કારણ કે મને મારી માં પર વિશ્વાસ હતો અને મારી માંએ મને કહ્યું હતુ કે આ પ્રક્રિયા મારી સારી સેહત માટે કરવામાં આવે છે. હું તેણીને નહિં પરંતુ, આપણી ધાર્મિક પ્રથાને દોષ આપું છું. ઘણાં મુસ્લિમ સમાજો આ પ્રથાને અપનાવતા નથી પરંતુ મારો સમાજ તેને અપનાવે છે.

જ્યારે મેં લેખક અયાન હિરસી અલી નું પુસ્તક વાંચ્યું ત્યારે પહેલી વાર મને એફ.જી.એમ. વિષે જાણવા મળ્યું. ત્યારબાદ, મેં હિંદુસ્તાન ટાઈમ્સમાં સહિયો વિષે વાંચ્યું. મને આઘાત લાગ્યો અને મેં મારી માંને ફોન કર્યો. શાંતિપૂર્વક મેં તેણીને પૂછ્યું “માં, તે મારી સાથે એમ શા માટે કર્યું?” તેણીએ કહ્યું “કારણ કે, બેટા એ તારી જાતીય ઈચ્છાઓ પર નિયંત્રણ રાખશે, તું કોઈની સાથે સેક્સ કરીશ નહિં અને તારૂં કૌમારત્વ(વર્જિનિટી) જળવાઈ રહેશે.” મને વિચાર આવ્યો કે આ કૌમારત્વ માટે આટલું બધુ, શું આ માટે મારે સમય-સમય પર પેશાબ સંબંધી સમસ્યાઓ સહન કરવી પડી?

કોઈની સાથે સેક્સ કરું કે નહિં એ મારી સમસ્યા છે, મારી સંમતિ નો પ્રશ્ન છે. તે મારૂં મન નક્કી કરશે, મારૂં ક્લિટોરિસ નહિં. મારી પાસે માંને કહેવા માટે કોઈ શબ્દો નહોતા, મેં ફક્ત “ઓકે” કહીને ફોન મુકી દીધો. મને તેણી પર ગુસ્સો નથી આવતો, તેણીએ ફક્ત એ કર્યું જે તેણીની સંસ્કૃતીએ અને ધર્મે તેણીને શીખવ્યું છે. હાં, જ્યારે હું સેક્સ કરું છું ત્યારે મને તકલીફ થાય છે. તે ખૂબ જ પીડાદાયક રહે છે અને સમસ્યા પેદા કરે છે. આ પ્રથા મારી જાતિય ઈચ્છાઓને રોકી શકી નહિં પરંતુ મારા માટે સેક્સ કરવું જરૂર મૂશ્કેલ બનાવી દીધું.

હું એક શિક્ષિત વ્યક્તિ છું અને એફ.જી.એમ.નો વિરોધ કરું છું. આ પ્રથા ખોટી છે, તેવું લોકોને સમજાવવા હું મારા શ્રેષ્ઠ પ્રયત્નો કરીશ. તેનો વિરોધ કરવા અને તે વિષે વાતચીત કરવા માટે હું સહિયોની આભારી છું. મને ખુશી છે કે તે વિષે વાતચીત કરવાના ટેબૂને દૂર કરવામાં આવ્યું અને એફ.જી.એમ.ના એક શિકાર (વિક્ટિમ) રૂપે હું મારો અનુભવ શેર કરી શકું છું.

(આ પોસ્ટની એક આવૃત્તિને 23 ફેબ્રુઆરી 2017ના રોજ સૌ પ્રથમ Wanderlustbeau બ્લોગમાં પ્રદર્શિક કરવામાં આવી હતી.)

Building the data on Female Genital Cutting in the Bohra Community

In February 2017, Sahiyo released the findings of the first ever large scale global study on Female Genital Cutting in the Bohra community in order to gain insight into how and why this harmful practice continued. A year later, this February 2018 saw the release of a second large-scale research study entitled “The Clitoral Hood – A Contested Site”, conducted by Lakshmi Anantnarayan, Shabana Diler and Natasha Menon in collaboration with WeSpeakOut and Nari Samata Manch. The study explored the practice of FGM/C in the Bohra community specifically in India and added findings about the sexual impact of FGC on Bohra women. Substantial overlap between the two studies can be found and parallels can be drawn.

Firstly, both studies explored the type of FGM/C that was carried out on the participants. The study by Sahiyo discovered that out of the 109 participants who were aware of the procedure that was carried out on them, 23 reported having undergone Type 1a – the removal of the clitoral hood. Research carried out by Anantnarayan et. al. found that although proponents of FGM/C in India claim that Bohras only practice Type 1a and Type 4 FGM/C (pricking, piercing or cauterization of the clitoral hood), participants reported that both Types 1a and 1b (partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or clitoral hood) are most often practiced.

Sahiyo and Anantnarayan et. al. both found that the majority of participants had undergone FGM/C and therefore, among both samples, FGM/C was widely practiced. Sahiyo found that 80% of 385 female participants had undergone the practice, whereas Anantnarayan et. al. found that of the 83 female participants in the study, 75% reported that their daughters had undergone FGC. Both studies found that FGM/C was performed at around the age of seven.

The impact of FGM/C on participants was also reported to be similar among participants of both studies. In exploring this further, Anantnarayan et. al. found that 97% of participants remembered FGM/C as a painful experience. Participants who had undergone the practice reported painful urination, physical discomfort, difficulty walking, and bleeding to be the immediate effects after having undergone FGM/C. In the long-term, some women reported that they suffered from recurring Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and incontinence, which they suspect could be linked to their khatna.

Both studies also explored the effect of FGM/C on participants’ sex lives. Anantnarayan et. al. found that approximately 33% of participants believe that FGM/C has negatively impacted their sex life. Similarly, Sahiyo reported findings of 35% of participants who believed that FGM/C has negatively impacted their sex lives. Some of the problems identified by several participants included low sex drive, the inability to feel sexual pleasure, difficulty trusting sexual partners, and over-sensitivity in the clitoral area.

Physical consequences of FGM/C in both studies also revealed psychological consequences. Similar to Sahiyo’s findings, Anantnarayan et. al. found that many participants reported feelings of fear, anxiety, shame, anger, depression, low self-esteem, and difficulty trusting people as some of the psychological repercussions of their FGM/C experience. Sahiyo found that 48% of participants in their study reported that FGM/C had left them with a lasting psychological impact.

Both Sahiyo and Anantnarayan et. al. also explored the main reasons for the the continuation of FGM/C within the Bohra community. Several common reasons were found, including the continuation of an old traditional practice, the adherence to religious edicts, and to control women’s promiscuity and sexual behaviour.

Interestingly, Sahiyo’s study found that 80% of women had earned at least a Bachelor’s degree, no relationship could be determined between education level and having undergone FGC. Meanwhile, the study by Anantnarayan et. al found that a strong connection existed between a mother’s education level and her decision to continue FGC on her daughter.

Sahiyo’s study, however, did note that more important than education level was the question of a person’s ideological preference (stated religion) as it might influence a person’s decision to continue FGC on their daughter. In fact, Sahiyo’s survey found that those who were most likely to continue ‘khatna’ were also more likely to still identify as Dawoodi Bohra in their adult life. Anantnarayan et. al also determined that the more diverse personal networks and economic independence from the Bohra religious community a woman had, the more likely they were to discontinue FGM/C and renounce it.

Finally, both studies examined the relationship between men and the decision/involvement for a girl to undergo FGC. Both studies did allude to the idea that the decision leading to a girl undergoing FGM/C may not strictly be confined to women. Sahiyo’s study revealed that 72% of respondents believed that men were aware of the practice, but only 27% believed that men were told of the practice when the girl underwent it in their family. Anantnarayan et. al. concluded that men played an integral role in the maintenance and propagation of the practice, both at the personal and political level, whether passively or more actively. However, Sahiyo’s data collection was completed in 2016, prior to the large-scale movement to end FGC in the Bohra community. The last few years have shown that with an increase in awareness of FGC amongst the public, Bohra men’s own knowledge of FGC has also naturally increased, and thus the traditional idea that men are unaware of FGC may in fact be changing with the current generation, as pointed out by Anantnarayan et. al.

 

Memories of a cry: A Bohra woman’s poem on her Khatna

by Sunera Sadicali
Country: Portugal / Spain

Memories of a cry

When I was eight
was too young to complain
too old to forget.

Went to a family trip
Karachi was warm, humid, overwhelming, tasty, spicy.
Had long hair and soft brown skin.
Went to Madrassa
Learnt to recite some verses by memory.
Laughed out loud, met new friends.

It was hard, sometimes…
the crowd, the men just staring on the streets
all the compulsories.

One day
went to a certain doctor, a woman.
I was eight and healthy
My sister, my cousin and me
remember an old building, the peculiar smell…
A sliding door.
I loved the street food, the pani puri, the colourful shalwar kameez.
We waited in the hall, wooden chairs.

My cousin was first,
after some time, don’t remember how much
heard a scream, sharp sound of pain…
my cousin’s cry.

I was next
I was afraid, hesitating, felt insecure
My mother and my khala were there with me.
There was a small room,
It was hot
I was sweating.
A weak-lit room, yellowish, humid.
I was put on a gurney
then everything just went very fast, in my memories…
They told me that I had a “worm” between my legs that must be cut,
sliced
My mother and my aunty grabbed my legs strongly
I remember freshly the pain
sharp and bloody-pain.
I felt shame and did not realize what happened.

Then, my sister’s turn
and again the cry…
I still feel a knot in the stomach.
Not for the pain, rather the yell.

I was thirteen when I realized
that “the worm”, was a bit of my flesh,
The sinful bit-of-clit
and yet I was not guilty at eight,
nor my mother at 28.

We are not good enough
if we do not bow
if we do not obey
if we do not have it cut properly
if we are not modest.
If we speak too much
if we enjoy too much
if we question too much.

My brain decides who I sleep with, not my clitoris

by Sabahat Jahan

Age: 24
Country: India

I am sitting in a cafe and thinking about whether I would ever make my daughter go through the painful ritual of genital mutilation, the way my mother did it to me in the name of religion.

I am 24 years old, studying journalism, a Muslim girl from a community that blindly follows Female Genital Mutilation even today. All my life I believed that FGM is good for my health, and that all the urinary problems I am facing are other unconnected problems. I didn’t realise that the bigger problem was that my clitoris was removed when I was seven.

I don’t even remember how it was done, or whether it was painful for me. And I never gave it a thought because I trusted my mother when she said that it was good for my health. I don’t blame her but I do blame the ritual. Not many Muslim sects follow it but my community does.

I first came to know about FGM when I read the work of author Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I then read about Sahiyo in the Hindustan Times. I was in a state of shock and I called my mother. With a calm mind, I asked her, “Maa, why did you do that to me?” She said, “Beta because it will control your sexual urges, you won’t sleep around and your virginity will be maintained.” I thought, so much for this virginity! Is this why I have to suffer from urinary problems from time to time?

Sleeping with someone or not is my problem, my consent. It’s my brain that will decide, not my clitoris! I had no words to say to my mother, I just said “okay” and disconnected the call. I am not angry with her, she just followed what her culture and religion taught her. Yes, I do face problems when I make love. It is painful and it is problematic. The ritual didn’t stop my sexual urges but it made sex difficult for me.

I am a literate person and I am standing against FGM. I will try my best to make people realize that it is wrong. I am thankful to Sahiyo for standing up and talking about it. I am glad the taboo around talking about it is removed and I can share my experience as a victim of FGM.

(A version of this post was originally published on the blog Wanderlustbeau on February 23, 2017.)