Odmangal C. has performed more than 1,000 FGM procedures in children in Chad. She has never cleaned the blade. She believes that doing so would destroy its magic.

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Partial Picture and opening words Courtesy: https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/its-time-end-female-genital-mutilation/31809

The following piece made me sick to the stomach. Literally. I have read about the “act” before, but only today, with my 27 years of existence on this earth have I indulged in detail. To be honest, I could not digest some of it. I am nauseated, for the first time in a long time.

In April of this year, Dr. Jumana Nagarawala, was arrested and charged by the Federal Court, ‘after an FBI investigation uncovered that she allegedly removed clitoral skin from two 7-year-old girls at a medical office earlier this year[1].’

According to the Human Rights Watch, Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) is defined as ‘all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.[2]’ It is an act of absolute horror, stripping away the dignity of human rights for women.

How come a culture is so threatened by a women’s sexuality that it pursues mutilation?

The FGM is performed, so that the women are perceived as clean and hygienic by the community, post procedure. To other cultures, it is also associated with beauty and femininity or a rite of passage to adulthood.  It is also practiced, to reduce the sexual libido of a woman. Since the vaginal opening is closed or narrowed down in some cases, FGM is performed to discourage extramarital sexual intercourse. On a side note, some cultures who did not have it before, include FGM as a part of their “mistaken” culture to included in the religious revival movement.

At least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries have been subjected to FGM till now. FGM is a worldwide issue, because it threatens the health of the girls being cut. FGM is mostly carried out on girls between infancy and age 15[3]. Some people even call it female circumcision mistakenly, without knowing the health aspects of it. In no condition, sterile or otherwise, does FGM guarantees the safety of a woman. The complications from FGM can include severe pain, excessive bleeding, fever due to infections like tetanus, injury and infection to surrounding genital tissues, sexual problems, childbirth problems, psychological problems and death.

How can we justify the risk of taking away the human life, in the name of tradition?

There is no dignity in trampling a human life. There will never be one. The FGM is considered as the violation of human rights by The World Health Organization today. It is a violation of a woman. It is a defilement of a young girl, barely old enough to understand the implications of it. In a culture of silence, who knows, how many children are undergoing this procedure right now under unsanitary environments. Up until now, we thought that girls are abducted by their aunts and village chiefs, to be cut and then treated for months at a time. There were no medical services available to these women, and they usually suffered from lifelong difficulties. Sexual intercourse would be traumatic and painful. FGM used to be performed in those countries, which did not have proper medical facilities. In some events, after being cut, the women and children were left to bleed for hours in the pits dug in mud. If you were not cut, the community will outcast you. However, with the immigrants migrations, the FGM also migrated to developed countries.

Dr. Nagarwala still denies that she has committed the crime. In her defense, she maintains that she is performing a religious custom for India Based- Dawoodi Bohra sect.  She could do it for almost a decade in a developed country like United States. Even though, Dr. Nagarwala has been released on a bond of $4.5 million dollars, she was charged for mutilating at least 6 girls in a clinic of suburban Detroit. It is the first case in US of its kind. [4]

My discomfort stems from the fact that Dr. Nagarwala was not a tribal chief or an unschooled aunt, but an educated individual. It unnerves me, to think about the demons one has to silence to wield a knife against another woman. How heartless and careless can we be?

To determine the failure of only the doctor is part of the problem. I also wonder, how mothers can subject their kids to such terrible pain and danger? How fathers can sanction such a horrific act? Is there no liability, no thought process?

A daughter looks up to her father for safety, and cherishes her mother for friendship. The trust of their child is abolished, when parents gives in to such customs that may guarantee physiological and psychological pain to their progeny. It’s a lifelong struggle to overcome this overture.

Is there no humanity left behind?

 

[1] Kuruvilla, Carol. “Detroit Doctor Charged With Female Genital Mutilation.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 14 Apr. 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/detroit-doctor-charged-with-female-genital-mutilation_us_58efbdeae4b0da2ff85f1292.

[2] “Q&A on Female Genital Mutilation.” Human Rights Watch, 26 July 2016, http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/06/16/qa-female-genital-mutilation.

[3] Https://Www.unicef.org/Media/Files/FGMC_2016_brochure_final_UNICEF_SPREAD.Pdf.

[4] Wjbk. “Doctor to be released on $4.5 million bond ahead of female genital mutilation trial.” Fox 2 News, http://www.fox2detroit.com/news/local-news/doctor-to-be-released-on-45-million-bond-ahead-of-female-genital-mutilation-trial.

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