New Delhi: One might’ve thought Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is not prevalent in India anymore but as it turns out, that’s far from true. A Bohra woman writes an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on freedom from the barbaric act of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
FGM has its roots in certain religions with archaic rules that govern a woman’s body. It’s a non-medical procedure comprising partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, including the clitoris. According to a report by WHO.
Girls as young as 6-9 years of age are forced to go through the painful, life-threatening procedure. In India, only the Dawoodi Bohra community was believed to be practicing this ancient technique.The Bohra woman writes “I take this opportunity to draw your attention to the horrific practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as khatna or khafz, which is being perpetuated for centuries in our Bohra community. Bohras are a Shia Ismailia sect which are largely based out of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. There are approximately 2 million bohras.
Let me tell you what happens in my community even today. Whenever a girl child turns 7, she is taken by either her mother or grandmother to a local dai, or now a local doctor, surreptitiously without disclosing anything to the child and there the dai or midwife or the doctor cuts a part of her clitoris (specifically the clitoral hood). The resultant excruciating physical, sexual and emotional trauma of this act is life long.
There is one and only one reason this inhuman practice is performed: to tamper with the sexual desires of the girl/woman.”
According to WHO, “FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.”
She also writes “For hundreds of years, this practice is being continued under a shroud of secrecy and silence and no one outside of the Bohra community even knew of its existence. Since November 2015, we, a group of Bohra women came together under the banner of ‘WeSpeakOut On FGM’, to just voice our sorrows, pains and traumas to each other. We found immense strength and courage when we connected with each other and vowed to start a battle against the pernicious practice of FGM in the Bohra community.”
“Honourable Prime Minister you have on an earlier occasion rightly said that the Muslim women also have to be protected and be given equal rights as per the Constitution of India. I felt much relief with your words then, that, ‘getting Muslim women their rights as per the Constitution is the responsibility of the government and the people of the country’.
You have also said, ‘In democracy, there should be discussion’. So, I urge and request you to allow me and my Bohra sisters who are in the forefront of this struggle and who have endured FGM to be given an audience with you to share first hand our plight and to tell you of our struggles.”
She concluded by pleading government to put a ban on this barbaric act of FGM. She end by writing “Please ban FGM/Khafz in India and through it Bohra Beti Bachao.”