As the masses continue to question significant gender gap issues and successfully address the majority of them with unwavering courage. As we celebrate the progress of a society that strives for gender neutrality and prioritizes humanity over gender bias, it becomes important to realize that success is partial. Misogyny is an ingrained and complex stigma that many individuals inherit from birth, often without acknowledging or challenging it. One of the most troubling manifestations of this inhumane mindset is female genital mutilation.
What is female genital mutilation?
Medically, female genital mutilation is defined as the complete or partial removal of a female’s clitoral hood for non-medical purposes. Ethically speaking, FGM, also known as khatna, khafz, or khafd, is one of the worst crimes committed against women, with a significant majority of victims being under the age of 15. Medical professionals are prohibited from participating in FGM in certain countries, but it is unfortunate that India is not yet among them. As a result, FGM in the country is carried out by unqualified individuals, posing significant risks to the victims. Risks include urinary infections and difficult deliveries catastrophically going up.
Why is it practiced?
The victims are most often coerced into this by their own families, their own mothers, and grandmothers, who offer consolation to the young victims while they’re being cut. It begs the question: What could possibly make entire communities of women, who birthed their children, undergo such disastrous practices?
The answer lies in society’s dysfunctional thinking – the obsession with female virginity and the urge to control a woman’s sexuality from the minute she is born. The explanation they provide is that monogamy is the one proper way to true love. The story fails when they don’t treat men the same way. One-sided monogamy sheds light on whether FGM is a practice for happy couples or patriarchal privilege. Additionally, if the institution of marriage were based on a person’s past sexual encounters, it would render the notion of ‘love’ a mockery for all parties involved in such a practice. It is ironic how the very people who choose to make their argument about what is “natural” are the ones who would willingly seal up an organ that tears itself each month, naturally too, if I might add. The risk of permanent physical dysfunction associated with female genital mutilation is indeed concerning, but the emotional trauma it inflicts is an equally significant aspect to consider. It isn’t hard to figure out that a girl who is raised with the belief that her family would choose a potential man in her future over her, to the extent where her pain wouldn’t mean anything to them, has not had a healthy childhood.
The Indian predicament
India ranks 148 out of 170 countries, on the Women, Peace and Security Index, 2021. As a nation that has not been successful in eliminating gender-based discrimination, we hear a lot about ongoing gender related issues every day. Still, it’s shocking how FGM is seldom brought to light.
The community of Dawoodi Bohra Muslims in India, an orthodox Shia sub-sect, still believes that FGM is a sacred ritual that has no negative consequences. A 2019 FGC (Female Genital Cutting) case made the following argument from one of the parties: “FGM is circumcision but for women.” It is important to recognize that circumcision is done for the reasons of sanitation and it is scientifically proven that it reduces the risk of infections. However, FGM is done for baseless social presumptions that challenge bodily autonomy and humanity.
Laws worldwide and their effectiveness
The United Nations has been working tirelessly to put an end to the practice of FGM. Medical practitioners in certain countries have been banned from performing FGM but it remains an ongoing struggle to have it criminalized in countries worldwide.
However, the discussion becomes complex when lawmaking authorities fail to understand that criminalizing practices that are religiously followed by entire communities may lead to their underground proliferation. The laws will not make a difference until the people who believe in them are educated about their harmful effects. It’s hard to change mindsets but never impossible. It’s not rocket science for a parent to comprehend the pain and suffering their child will endure, provided they are presented with rational information. Additionally, those who engage in such practices should be aware of the societal pressures they themselves may face when making this choice. Child rights associations are always a viable option for addressing these issues and it’s about time we start speaking about these harsher realities of life.
The world we have, however, has an opportunity to bring gender-neutral norms and healthier mindsets. Our success may be partial but it’s only the beginning of a revolution.
As a student and aspiring writer from Chandigarh, Moesha is deeply moved by sociological atrocities and strive to address them with honesty, hoping to document if not change things. With just a little over a decade and a half of life experience, her aspiration is to provide an uninfluenced and authentic perspective to the world, while staying well-informed. Embracing the idea that language and writing are slow-cooked processes, she believes that perceiving and changing are also part of this gradual journey. She courageously places the ingredients in the cooker, hoping that the slow-cooked mush eventually makes sense.