Female Genital Mutilation Must Be Stopped & This Could Be a Start
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a reality. It involves surgically operating on the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGM is practised in various parts of the world, in various cultural and religious forms. However, it’s internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of women.
The United Nations (UN) has declared February 6 as International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. The theme for this year is ‘achieving the new global goals through the elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030’. However, India has been sidelined in the programme, with no active campaign planned for the country.
In India, FGM is known to be practised by the Bohra Muslim community, who have a population of just over 1 million.
Masooma Ranalvi is an anti-FGM activist and a Bohra-Muslim, who also underwent one such circumcision when she was just 7 years old. “The practice of FGM is done surreptitiously to all the girl children in our community, without any consent, whatsoever. The alleged reason for this tradition is to curb the sexual drive of women and control them,” says Ranalvi.
Ranalvi has joined the movement with a campaign called ‘Each One Reach One’, to spread awareness on female genital cutting among Bohras.
Globally, a UN report suggests, at least, 200 million females alive today have undergone some form of FGM. Of these, 44 million are either 14 or younger. FGM causes severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth such as an increased risk of newborn deaths.
Ranalvi is also a member of the Speak Out on FGM collective that has petitioned Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Law and Justice, DV Sadananda Gowda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Jagat Prakash Nadda, to pass a law to end genital mutilation in India. The Quint is supporting the campaign.
The campaign also seeks to involve the men in the Bohra community, because ‘silence can only be broken when men and women speak together – and to each other.’