Community

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: indianexpress.com

Community

More in Community

Barely half of population born in Australia to Australian-born parents

Barely half of population born in Australia to Australian-born parents

The Indian TelegraphJune 27, 2017
Facebook launches amber alerts in Australia — a feature it hopes no one will have to use

Facebook launches amber alerts in Australia — a feature it hopes no one will have to use

The Indian TelegraphJune 22, 2017
Public housing cheats exposed over millions in rorts

Public housing cheats exposed over millions in rorts

The Indian TelegraphJune 22, 2017
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment - Australian Businesses Tap In To India

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment – Australian Businesses Tap In To India

The Indian TelegraphJune 19, 2017
ONLINE VISITOR VISA LODGEMENT FOR INDIAN NATIONALS

ONLINE VISITOR VISA LODGEMENT FOR INDIAN NATIONALS

The Indian TelegraphJune 19, 2017
Private drone ‘forced to the ground’ before explosion at Woomera weapons testing ground

Private drone ‘forced to the ground’ before explosion at Woomera weapons testing ground

The Indian TelegraphJune 19, 2017
Coalition's citizenship laws would give Peter Dutton power to overrule court decisions

Coalition’s citizenship laws would give Peter Dutton power to overrule court decisions

The Indian TelegraphJune 12, 2017
Man arrested after Virgin flight evacuated on landing at Albury airport in NSW

Man arrested after Virgin flight evacuated on landing at Albury airport in NSW

The Indian TelegraphJune 6, 2017
Minimum wage increases to $18.29 an hour, cuts to Sunday penalty rates to still go ahead

Minimum wage increases to $18.29 an hour, cuts to Sunday penalty rates to still go ahead

The Indian TelegraphJune 6, 2017
Terror attack in Australia: ‘We have to be ready, we can’t avoid it’

Terror attack in Australia: ‘We have to be ready, we can’t avoid it’

The Indian TelegraphJune 5, 2017
India rejects Australian request to join naval war games

India rejects Australian request to join naval war games

The Indian TelegraphJune 1, 2017
Australian researchers develop tiny silk implants that may restore hearing

Australian researchers develop tiny silk implants that may restore hearing

The Indian TelegraphMay 29, 2017
India and Australia: Why the two countries such close business partners

India and Australia: Why the two countries such close business partners

The Indian TelegraphMay 29, 2017
Three charged after ‘$1 million cannabis seizure’

Three charged after ‘$1 million cannabis seizure’

The Indian TelegraphMay 29, 2017
Drug smuggler Schapelle Corby won’t be allowed to cash in on her Bali saga with a pricey TV deal

Drug smuggler Schapelle Corby won’t be allowed to cash in on her Bali saga with a pricey TV deal

The Indian TelegraphMay 25, 2017
Uttar Pradesh government launches Anti-encephalitis campaign for 38 districts

Uttar Pradesh government launches Anti-encephalitis campaign for 38 districts

The Indian TelegraphMay 25, 2017
Boyfriend of Western Sydney dead woman Hayley Ernst charged with breaching AVO

Boyfriend of Western Sydney dead woman Hayley Ernst charged with breaching AVO

The Indian TelegraphMay 21, 2017
Vector-borne diseases: Delhi HC slams ‘lack of measures’

Vector-borne diseases: Delhi HC slams ‘lack of measures’

The Indian TelegraphMay 17, 2017
Inquest: diver Jarrod Hampton 'almost drowned' before death

Inquest: diver Jarrod Hampton ‘almost drowned’ before death

The Indian TelegraphMay 17, 2017
Madhya Pradesh: Three killed, 25 injured as bus topples in Dindori

Madhya Pradesh: Three killed, 25 injured as bus topples in Dindori

The Indian TelegraphMay 15, 2017
The wake-up call: The gun-running syndicate that shocked Australian law enforcement

The wake-up call: The gun-running syndicate that shocked Australian law enforcement

The Indian TelegraphMay 15, 2017