Understanding female genital mutilation: The practice and the issues

Understanding female genital mutilation: The practice and the issues

FGM refers to the practice of complete or partial removal of female external genitalia, apparently in an attempt to keep their sexual desires under control.

Last week, the Supreme Court issued notices to four ministries on a petition seeking a ban on “female circumcision”. The inhuman practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) — seen in parts of Asia and Africa, including among the 2 million-strong Bohra community in India — is currently in sharp focus worldwide. Days before the Supreme Court action, a hospital in Detroit had sacked a doctor for performing the procedure — not only putting a woman’s health in danger, but also violating her right to her body.

What is FGM?

FGM refers to the practice of complete or partial removal of female external genitalia, apparently in an attempt to keep their sexual desires under control. The extent of the practice varies from country to country. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises four kinds of FGM.

# Type 1: Referred to as clitoridectomy, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin that surrounds the clitoris).

# Type 2: Referred to as excision, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of the skin of the vulva).

# Type 3: Referred to as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without clitoridectomy.

# Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

The procedure is often done without anaesthesia or medical supervision.

In which countries is it practised?

Indonesia and Malaysia have FGM, as do many African countries. It is in Africa that the practice is more severe, and from where it came to the attention of the international community and the WHO.

In India, the Bohras — not just Dawoodi Bohras but other sects too — practise FGM. There are no authentic Indian statistics about the number of Indian victims, but activists say 80%-90% of Bohra girls are subject to the process, sometimes at the hands of ill-equipped traditional circumcisers attending childbirth. Only Types 1 and 4 are practised in India, and is called khatna.

The WHO estimates that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to the practice in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

What problems can FGM cause?

There are grave health repercussions. In the short-term, there may be pain, excessive bleeding, fever, infections, shock, or even death. In the long term, there may be urinary or vaginal problems, pain during intercourse, and complications at childbirth. Correcting the damage may need surgery. The petition in the Supreme Court says: “The practice of ‘khatna’ or ‘FGM’ or ‘Female Circumcision’ or ‘khafd’ also amounts to causing inequality between the sexes and constitutes discrimination against women. Since it is carried out on minors, it amounts to serious violation of the rights of children as even minors have a right of security of person, right to privacy, bodily integrity and the freedom from cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment… It violates the rights of the child and human rights. It also violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is a crime in the Unites States of America under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 and now a crime in Australia and some other countries as well.”

How has the global campaign against FGM progressed?

In recent years, FGM has been talked about much more. An online campaign called ‘Speak Out on FGM’, a film called A Pinch of Skin, featuring recorded voices of victims, and a clutch of reports around the world have spread information on its horrors. The WHO has made it clear that FGM has no health benefits. Activists point out that khatna is not a practice mandated by religion. However, in June 2016, the public relations department of the Syedna, the religious leader of the Bohras, issued a press release saying that FGM would continue in countries that did not have anti-FGM laws.

Online Source:


More in Community

Woongal Environmental Services secures first Indigenous contract for the Carmichael mine

The Indian TelegraphDecember 15, 2018

Time For Liberals To Deliver Their Promised Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa

The Indian TelegraphNovember 29, 2018

“Indian Community Is Making Incredible Contribution In Australia”

The Indian TelegraphNovember 16, 2018

15th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas To Be Held In Varansi

The Indian TelegraphNovember 1, 2018

NSW Takes Gold Medal For Jobs Creation

The Indian TelegraphOctober 25, 2018

From The Premier’s Desk: Cost of Living

The Indian TelegraphOctober 9, 2018

Naturally Luxurious Display Centre Opens Doors To Sydneysiders This Weekend

The Indian TelegraphOctober 9, 2018

Sydney’s First 4DX Cinema To Launch At EVENT Cinemas George Street

The Indian TelegraphSeptember 26, 2018

The Bitter Truth About Sugar

Madhusmitha KrishnamurthySeptember 20, 2018

Indian Migrants Sent US$5.71bn In Remittances To Other Countries In 2017

The Indian TelegraphSeptember 14, 2018

Ash Venkat Represents India At Pageant Of The World

Vish ViswanathanAugust 30, 2018

Sachin Pilot: We Oppose Lynching

The Indian TelegraphAugust 28, 2018

AEC Calls On Hindi Speakers To Register For Election Work

The Indian TelegraphAugust 28, 2018

Business Confidence Soars In Regional NSW

The Indian TelegraphAugust 20, 2018

As Floods Ravage Kerala, Labor Urges Oz Government To Extend Helping Hand

The Indian TelegraphAugust 20, 2018

Free Counselling For Western Sydney Parents

The Indian TelegraphAugust 16, 2018

Global Movie & TV Piracy On The Rise As Criminals Profit From OTT Streaming Credentials Available on Dark Web For Under $9

The Indian TelegraphAugust 14, 2018

Crown Group Offers The Benefits Of Being Elite

The Indian TelegraphAugust 14, 2018

NSW Cost Of Living Service Goes ‘LIVE’

The Indian TelegraphAugust 14, 2018

Superstar Celeb Judges Announced For Telstra Bollywood Dance Competition’18

The Indian TelegraphAugust 9, 2018

MAV Announces Two International Cultural Collaborations With Singapore

The Indian TelegraphAugust 8, 2018