Civilization is wrought with examples of how women have been treated poorly. No sooner have we turned to our morning coffee than we see headlines regarding the rape of a woman. While these problems are indeed grave, they are a reflection of the callous nature of our society, especially with regards to the rights of women. In light of this, I would like to talk about an extremely controversial but significant issue. Female Genital Mutilation, as the name suggests, is a procedure that is done to ensure, among other things, a prohibition of premarital sex and relationships. The world health organization defines it as an act that involves the removal of the external female genitalia, partially or wholly, for non-medical reasons. Female genital mutilation is an extremely serious issue and reports from the world Health Organization state that over 200 million women from Africa and Asia have undergone this procedure. According to the same report, it would cost over 1.4 billion dollars a year to actually treat the complications that arise as a result of this practice in the top 27 nations that practice it. While Female Genital Mutilation has been expressly looked upon as a human rights violation by the world and the UN in particular. India is yet to examine this procedure from a criminal perspective. Female Genital mutilation is extensively practiced in India, namely in the Shia community of Dawoodi Bohra. This sect has over 1 million adherents in India and is the most notorious when it comes to the practice.
In the Bohra community, the clitoral hood is mutilated or hacked off when the child is barely 6 or 7 years of age. This is done primarily to ensure that the woman does not “dishonour” the family by committing adultery. The logic behind this practice is rooted deeply in patriarchy and has no scientific backing whatsoever. The people who support this barbarous practice claim that a woman’s clitoris is the only organ that can feel nothing but pleasure and that this organ, as a result of it, is inherently evil. They state that if a woman leaves her clitoris unharmed, she will become a disloyal wife as she would be swept away by any stimulation of the clitoris done by any other man. Their idea being that women are mere slaves to their sexual desires and that the addiction for this stimulation would destroy marriages and relationships. As ludicrous as this reasoning may seem, it is sad to see that India is quickly becoming the international FGM capital of the world. This is primarily due to the patriarchal society that we live in and the lack of legislation restricting this repulsive practice. This article would look into this horrendous practice and criticize it extensively while also citing reasons as to why it occurs and why it ought to be banned in both India and other developing nations while providing a legal and cultural perspective to the same. A woman’s voice must be heard, no matter her age and maturity. We must all, parents and guardians included, understand that a NO means NO and calling FGM anything short of sexual assault is a flawed judgement.