mid-day editorial: Stand up for women's #RightToPleasure

Even as we usher in a new age when women finally have equal access to places of worship, there are those who seek to drag womankind back to the dark ages in the name of religion. There is now a four-minute video going viral of the spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community, Syedna Muffadal Saifuddin, endorsing the vile practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), or khatna as it is called.

However, his remarks were met with huge disappointment amongst the Bohra community. In a report in this paper yesterday, we saw that even though the Syedna may continue to push for this repulsive practice, opposition against it is growing. Moreover, that opposition is taking a united, organised stand, like the University Women’s Association in Pune, which recently held a meet to discuss this.

More power to these movements, because to deny women the right to pleasure is worse than denying them entry into temples. There should be nationwide furore against the barbaric practice of FGM. There is still a lot of fear about speaking out against this practice. Those outside the community may hesitate to criticise the act lest it be perceived as an attack on the religion or the community. Those within the community also have a lot to fear — the few brave women who have spoken up may have had to endure social ostracism, but they are going ahead anyway. Their personal stories are heart-rending. Victims do not just have to bear the physical pain, but also lose their ability to trust from a very young age.

Perhaps we need another Trupti Desai to fight this evil. But it cannot be the burden of just a few; more people must raise their voices against it and bring it to the government’s attention. We must call for an outright ban on the practice, with strict jail terms for those who persist.

Even those who are not personally affected by FGM need to come together, because there is strength in numbers. FGM is a way of controlling women, a heinous practice that has no place in any society. mid-day stands up for #RightToPleasure and we think every right thinking individual should do so too.

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