A Thousand Cuts That Start With One

A Thousand Cuts That Start With One


This article is written by Rudrakshi Gautam, a Fourth year B.A. LLB (Hons.) Student of Ideal Institute of Management and Technology (Affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indrapastha University), Delhi.

Is it really the 21st century?? Am I dreaming? And if it’s a dream, it was a bad one. And if it is a reality, no one would ever want to face it.

Here in 21st century where people are talking about Mars mission, Robots, Artificial Intelligence, Technology and Innovation and what not and then you hear about Female Genital Mutilation. Yes! You heard I right.

FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is the practice of excising the clitoris and labia of a girl or woman and stitching together the edges of the vulva to prevent sexual intercourse. It is the complete scrapping of vagina and stitching it together to prevent the girl from having sex. The vagina is sealed leaving a small hole for the girl to menstruate or urinate.

FGM is usually performed by traditional circumcisers, women who have a high reputation within their societies. It is basically done to preserve the reputation of the family. So as none of their daughters, sisters or wives could enter into an illicit relationship.

It is also performed by traditional midwives and occasionally by healers, nurses or doctors trained in Western medicine. The procedure is usually performed without anaesthesia and under dreadful and unhygienic circumstances. Usually by razors, knives, scissors or a piece of broken glass, which are mostly not disinfected.

The girl’s legs are tied with rope for days so that the wound can heal. It usually takye 15 to 40 days for the wound to heal. During this period, the girl’s legs remain tied and she is prevented from moving. A simple wound hurts so much and here a full surgery is done by some unprofessional.

A large number of women who have been the victim of this say that they used to scream but no one consoled them when they were cut or when they were being operated. Some say that this treatment has been so traumatic, torturous, barbaric, merciless and almost everyone who’s been victim of this has reported it to be an extremely painful experience. Basically, the stitches are meant to be reopened by her husband on the wedding night so he can have some intimacy. It is hard to even Imagine that an amateur person who happens to be her husband opens the stitches and immediately tries building an intimate relationship with her. This is a lot of suffering for a human. The traumatic experience, the pain the girl will pass through. At the time of giving birth many women have to be cut again as the vaginal opening is too small for the passage of the baby. It also causes urinary tract infections in women, fistulae and infertility etc.

This unethical practice is still prevalent in the tribal communities of South Africa. Other than that, people from these communities when migrate to other countries, keep this unethical practice alive.

As per the World Health Organization, more than 200 million women suffer from FGM worldwide. According to a research, it was also practiced in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

A practice that simultaneously receives too much attention and not enough, female genital cutting (FGC) occurs in India with an insidious regularity. It passes without comment, with the idea of FGC rooted firmly in the vogue and practiced ferociously.

They are of the Bohra Muslim community – one that is rich, educated and routinely cuts the genitals of their seven-year-old daughters.

Sahiyo is an organisation that works to empower Asian communities to end female genital cutting and create positive social change through dialogue, education and collaboration based on community involvement.

The very fact that some fathers disapprove of it while mothers consistently and constantly approve this practice just because they have gone through it. And it proves that this is no misogyny in play, its societal role that we have all nurtured for so long, and are unwilling to break at any cost.

The men are not included in frank conversations about it, even though they know it exists. FGM is not an action taken with deliberate malice or ill-will. “Their mothers simply did it because it was done to them”.

Woman or man, anyone who, by definition of misogyny, “holds negative prejudice against women”, is to be blamed for such practices and not just men. “There’s no misogyny at play”, it means that there is nothing like hating women. It is not just about hating women, but also about controlling them. The whole idea of Female Genital Mutilation is to control women’s sexuality.

It’s disheartening that it is one of the most ignored women issues. Misogyny is a universal game, and its playing field is the “female body”. And here we cannot just blame men, women are equally guilty.
From breaking your face to deforming your feet, there is no upper limit on what a culture can demand of women’s bodies.

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