More than 70% women from the Dawoodi Bohra community answered an online survey where they said that an untrained professional had performed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on them.
The survey — Understanding Female Genital Cutting in the Dawoodi Bohra Community: An Exploratory Survey — was conducted by Sahiyo, an NGO, on the occasion of International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM.
While the 385 women who answered the survey provided personal accounts of their experience, findings also highlighted their reservation on the existence of the practice (81%) and the refusal to carry out the procedure on their own girl child (82%).
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FGM is a process which involves removal of skin from the clitoral hood of women, at the age of seven or between the ages of six and 12. The ritual is opposed by many Islamic scholars. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it has no known health benefits and the procedure may cause several immediate and long-term health consequences.
Aarefa Johari, a journalist and member of Sahiyo, said that they have come across many women who have faced psychological and physical traumas due to the procedure, performed by an untrained individual. “While there are women who face physical complications, some suffer from mental trauma of such gravity that they are not able to get intimate with their partners even after marriage,” said Johri.
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The participants had also heard of multiple reasons on why FGM, or ‘Khatna’ as it’s widely known in the community, is practised in the Dawoodi Bohra community. While 56% were told it’s for religious purposes, 45% admitted it was to decrease sexual arousal. Other reasons like maintaining tradition and custom (42%) and physical hygiene and cleanliness (27%) were also mentioned by the participants.