“Save a Girl and Break the Razor Blade”

India where women use to be treated as Goddess, now they are not even being considered  to be human because a human has a right to live a dignified life no matter what happens this right can not be taken away from them[1].

But even after this right has been protected by the law of India women’s are still suffering from a many difficulties in their share of life but even after the various cases of women’s dilemmas which are generally raised and faced just due to gender inequality the base concept of Humanity has also been unavailable for the women the base and most heinous act which a women or we can say a young girl face is “Female Genital Mutilation”.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as Female circumcision, has a history spanning over 5000 year’s different cultures. Previously practiced in parts of Europe and America, it remains a traditional practice in some African, Middle Eastern, Asian, South American and Pacific Countries.[2] As Female Genital mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.[3]

WHAT IS FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION?

Female genital mutilation involves the removal of the clitoris, inner and outer lips of the vagina, and the sewing or stapling together of two sides of the vulva leaving only a small hole to pass urine and menstruate depending on the type.[4]

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is performed with a razor blade on girls between the ages of four and twelve, traditionally without anesthesia.[5]

Female Genital Mutilation is defined by World Health Organization (WHO) as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia organs for non-medical reasons.[6]

CAUSES OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

Female Genital Mutilation has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girl’s and women’s bodies. Generally speaking, risks of FGM increase with increasing severity, although all forms of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are associated with increased health risk.

Some complications are:

~Severe pain

~Excessive Bleeding

~Genital Tissue Swelling

~Fever

~Infection

~Urinary Problems

~Wound healing Problems

~Injury to surrounding genital tissue

~Shock

~Death[7]

Others complications are:

~Urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections);

~Vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections)

~Menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc)

~Scar tissue and keloid.

~Sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc)

~Increased risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivary, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby etc.) and newborn deaths.

~Need for later surgeries.

~Psychological problems (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, etc.)[8]

TYPES OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

In 1997, WHO classified female genital mutilation into four different types. Since then, experience with using this classification revealed the need to subdivide these categories, to capture the varieties of FGM in more detail. Severity (which here corresponds to the amount of tissue damaged) and health risk are closely related to the type of FGM performed as well as the amount of tissue that is cut.

The four major types of FGM, and their subtypes, are:

Type I.  Excision of the prepuce with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris;

Type II.  Excision of the prepuce and clitoris together with partial or total excision of the labia minora;

Type III. (also known as infibulation) Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening;[9]

Type IV. All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization.

Deinfibulation refers to the practice of cutting open the sealed vaginal opening of a woman who has been infibulated (Type III).

This is often done to allow sexual intercourse or to facilitate childbirth, and is often necessary for improving the woman’s health and well-being. Despite the health risks, some women undergo a narrowing of their vaginal opening again after being deinfibulated, at the time of childbirth – meaning that they may undergo a series of repeated infibulations and deinfibulations throughout the life-course.[10]

WHY FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION IS PRACTICED?

In many countries where FGM is practiced, it is deeply entrenched social norm rooted in gender inequality where violence against girls and women is socially acceptable. The reasons behind the practice vary. In some cases, it is seen as a rite of passage into womanhood, while others see it to suppress a woman’s sexuality. Many communities practice genital mutilation in the belief that it will ensure a girl’s future marriage or family honor. Some associate it with religious beliefs, although no religious scriptures require it.

There are many reasons as followings:

~Maintaining Marital fidelity

~Controlling Sex Drive

~Preventing lesbianism

~Ensuring paternity

~Blaming the female personality

~In the name of Woman’s Honor (if a woman is not Circumcision she loses her all hope of having a husband0

~Religion

~In the name of Woman purity (as circumcision is guarantee of female chastity)

~Customs (families are supporting it in the name of customs)

FEMALE GENITAL MULTILATION IN INDIA

In 2018, a study on FGM in India said that the practice was up to 75% across the Dawood Bohra Muslim community. In India FGM is referred as “Khafd” as it includes continuing an old traditional practice, adhering to religious edicts, controlling women’s sexuality and abiding by the rules stated by the religious clergy.[11]

In April 2017, Delhi-based lawyer Sunita Tiwari[12] filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on the practice of female genital cutting in India. FGC is practiced among the Dawoodi Bohras and other Bohra sects in India, as well as among certain Sunni Muslims in the state of Kerala. Tiwari’s PIL, however, refers only to FGC among the Dawoodi Bohras. After Tiwari’s PIL was admitted in the Court, other intervention petitions were also filed in the case, some supporting a ban on the ancient practice, and one party (the Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association for Religious Freedom) defending FGC on the grounds that it is an essential religious practice for the Bohras. The Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association demanded that the matter of FGC be heard by a Constitution bench since it was about the Constitutional right to religious freedom.[13]

The Supreme Court said the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community is violates of Article 21 and Article 15 of the Constitution that guarantees protection of life and personal liberty and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. FGM considered a crime and punishable under Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). Justice Dipak Misra said that “when we are for affirmative push to women’s right, how it be reserved?”

In this finding it was certain that 42 countries of which 27 countries are in Africa banned this practice and World Health Organization is also in this favor.[14]

FEMALE MUTILATION IN OTHER COUNTRIES

A mother from Uganda was sentenced to 11-years’ imprisonment for carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) on her 3-year old daughter in the United Kingdom. FGM is a harmful practice against women and girls and has been banned in the UK since 1985. This is the first conviction and sentence in the UK. You might think that FGM is practiced somewhere far from your community, but it could be happening in your neighborhood. As a matter of a fact, FGM is confirmed not only in the UK but across many regions.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that at least 200 million women and girls have undergone FGM in the world. FGM has been practiced mainly in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa and some countries in the Middle East and Asia. FGM is also found in western countries such as United Kingdom, United States and Canada.

According to the data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), more than 65% of women ages 15-49 years have undergone FGM at least in 10 countries. In Guinea, the prevalence of FGM has slowly declined from 98.6 in 1999 to 96.8 in 2016, but it remains extremely high.[15]

HOW TO STOP IT?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a violation of India’s promise of equal rights and equal protection of all citizens. The harsh glare from such archaic practices also falls upon the Indian interpretation of secularism which excused some discriminatory and cruel customs under the pretext of respecting religious sensitivities. We should have to take strict steps to stop it. The following steps are: -

~Education

~Awareness (Majority of people are not aware about this practice)

~Government have to specialize this Offence

~Do not follow the Customs Blindly

~Girls should have to fight their own battle they should know about the wrong and rights and should speak out.

~Do not treat the girls and women like a toy.

~Do not be gender biased.

CONCLUSION

In India, women has been facing various challenges in the society like child marriages, sati paratha, polygamy but FGM is not just a challenge it is an offence which has no sense and no women should experience this kind of offence and there is the high need of some strict steps to protect women from this kind of offences.

Female Genital Mutilation is one of the heinous offences which is practiced against girls of age 4 to 12. It has no benefits. There are many offences like child marriages, sati paratha, polygamy which are outlawed in India why not FGM. FGM has no benefits but then also it is practiced in the name religion, customs, and purity of women. After freedom also girls and women are the one who are under some restrictions and fear. They are not safe at their homes what to talk about outside world. Children are god gifted so why these practices is exercised on them. Only for the sake of religion and customs we can cause death to our own child.

In India, we worship Goddess Lakshmi, Durga, Saraswati then also these practices are prevalent. On one side we do puja on other we do these heinous offences against them. This practice should be banned.


[1] Maneka Gandhi V. Union of India,1987 AIR 597

[3] Available at:https://amnesty.org.in/female-genital-mutilation-in-india/(Visited on June 11, 2020).

[5] Supra note 1

[6] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[12] Sunita Tiwari v Union of India (W.P. (C) No. 286/2017).