top blindly claiming that Khatna is the same as “Western” clitoral unhooding, we must understand that clitoral unhooding is not performed on unconsenting minor girls. It is chosen by some adult, sexually active women only if they have problems such as too much prepuce tissue coming in the way of orgasms. The clitoral hood serves an important purpose in every woman, it guards the clitoris against over-stimulation, scuffs and injury, and it naturally retracts during sexual arousal to allow exposure to the clitoris. It does not need to be cut in order to expose the clitoris. We must understand the natural functions of our body parts before artificially altering them with a blade — that too by an unprofessional woman who has no medical background.
And finally, if you think that the purpose behind Khatna is taharat, then remember, physical hygiene can be maintained very well with soap and water, and the key to achieving “spiritual” or “religious” purity lies not in a person’s genitals, but in their thoughts, words, and deeds. There are hundreds of spiritual woman across the globe from various religion, I don’t think they are chopping off their clitoris. It’s a cruel practice because this is performed on the minor girls who are not in a position to consent for such acts. Imagine the hot knife slicing your clitoris. Imagine a young girl shrieking in pain. Imagine the mother who is holding their daughters, and seeing her in the blood pool with pain for days and months. The cruel practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) needs to be stopped in India. The young girls aged six and seven are regularly being cut right here. Mumbai abounds with inexpert midwives who continue to scar young girls from the Bohra community. These midwives have no credentials or expertise as a nurse or some medical background; they pass these training from generation to generation, in their own clan.
My driver Zujer belongs to the Bohra Muslim community. I happened to ask him about this practice — he surprised me replying back that if a female is born in our religion she has to go through this. Our religious perching says so. I asked him, you never feel bad when your daughter shriek in pain? He said, “It’s done by Janana (female) and we male don’t become a part of it. Our only duty is to eat, render dua (blessing), and keep calm. This is for the girl’s betterment”. I was speechless; but, when it comes to religion, you really can’t argue on humanitarian grounds as it hurts their religious sentiments. The FGM remained a well-kept secret, a taboo, a subject never to be discussed. When I asked such an awkward question to a male member of the community, he was not very comfortable.
With changing time, few women victims at the hands of the Bohra tradition are choosing to speak out and create awareness. Masooma Ranalvi, a Delhi-based issuer – who has put her name to an online petition against the practice along with 17 other women – has decided that it’s time to come out in the open. The pain has become a trigger and the passion to save other girls’ gential being cut have made her and the others fearless. Masooma’s genitals were also cut when she was six-year-old, it’s been 42 years now. For a long time, Masooma did not understand what had happened to her or why her genitals had been cut. The realisation that she had been betrayed shattered her. The reasons why Khatna is so common in the community shocked her.
The abuse leaves women physically, psychologically, and sexually damaged. It takes a long time for a child to be okay. It is something that has affected many Bohra girls like Zohara; it has affected the kind of work they do. The mutilation affects marriages. Couples are finally admitting to it but only in one-on-one confidential meetings. One reason why Khatna continues is the Syedna, or the Bohra high priest who refuses to engage on the issue either with the women or the media.
The United Nations has declared female genital mutilation a human rights violation but there is no ban in India. Young girls are still being taken to the midwives and to the doctors in the Bohra-run hospitals. Slowly, the issue is becoming less taboo.
The immediate complications of Female Genital Mutilation include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage, tetanus or infection, urine retention, ulceration of the genital region and injury to adjacent tissue, wound infection, urinary infection, fever, and septicemia. Haemorrhage and infection can be severe enough to cause death.
Long-term consequences include complications during childbirth, anaemia, the formation of cysts and abscesses, keloid scar formation, damage to the urethra resulting in urinary incontinence, dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse), sexual dysfunction, hypersensitivity of the genital area and increased risk of HIV transmission, as well as psychological effects.
Infibulation or Type III Female Genital Mutilation may cause complete vaginal obstruction resulting in the accumulation of menstrual flow in the vagina and uterus. Infibulation creates a physical barrier to sexual intercourse and childbirth. An Infibulated woman, therefore, has to undergo gradual dilation of the vaginal opening before sexual intercourse can take place. Often, Infibulated women are cut open on the first night of marriage (By the husband or circumciser) to enable the husband to be intimate with his wife.
If not on the religious ground, if not on the humanitarian ground, if not on gender ground, at least on medical and health grounds, this revolution should go widespread and judiciary should take up the issue with same aggression it has taken Triple Talaq. In the coming time, the womanhood in Islam needs to be protected.
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