mid day editorial: Cut it out with Female Genital Mutilation
A one-year-old conservative Bohra body is blunting the knives of a first-of-its-kind study on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or khatna practiced by the community
A one-year-old conservative Bohra body is blunting the knives of a first-of-its-kind study on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or khatna practiced by the community. This group, calling itself the Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Religious Freedom (DBWRF) group, has junked the findings of a study that found that 97% women were haunted by a "painful" experience with FGM. The DBWRF has termed the practice as khafz, not khatna, and claim that there is no mutilation and it is nothing like FGM.
The group said it was guarding the cultural and religious rights of women in the community, and cited their reasons, including the freedom to take decisions about their bodies and those of their daughters. However, it is important that the FGM debate, or the study, is not washed away by claims of widespread support. Giving a practice a kinder name does not give the practice legitimacy. The country needs to take note of the FGM study, they need to look at nations in which FGM is a crime, and study international laws that seek to prevent women from being coerced or even brainwashed.
While khafz proponents rubbished the study, claiming it does not represent the majority, the point is that the study is a guide for a focused look at FGM, and urges measures to tackle the practice. The impact of FGM extends far beyond this study; many, many more women are affected, and there may be thousands who are silent because they do not have an avenue to speak out in a patriarchal society. Jaha Dukureh, a Gambian anti-FGM activist and survivor cites UN figures that estimate that FGM affects 200 million girls and women globally.
Every change brings resistance and debate. Let one group’s defiance not derail much-needed government intervention into the matter.
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