In India, Ending FGM Demands Truth and Transparency

BY Masooma Ranalvi

“My daughter is eight years old. In May 2017, I had her ‘Khatna,’ her circumcision, done. I had taken her to a traditional cutter. Once back home I made her sleep on the bed. After some time, around 4:00 p.m. I took her to the bathroom, she was bleeding as if she had started her menses. It seemed like she was urinating blood. By 6:00 p.m. my daughter had been bleeding so heavily, the blood had soaked three bed sheets and I was very worried.  And my daughter was quiet and she also kept asking me if she will be fine.” Excerpt from:  How I got her from the hands of death: WeSpeakOut study 2018

The child belongs to the Bohra community, where Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) persists.  A study by my organisation, WeSpeakOut, in 2018 indicates that over 75% of the girls in the community are cut. Their clitoral hoods are removed.  They are not all “fine.”  Some suffer life-threatening infections.  And the procedure leaves girls physically and emotionally scarred and robbed of sexual pleasure for a lifetime.

The Bohra community is not in Africa, long the focus of global efforts to stop FGM.  It is in India.  The fact that it happens here came to light when women, including me, spoke about our childhood traumas, researched the prevalence of FGM, and exposed it to the world.  But we are part of a global blind spot on the FGM map.  To many in the Indian government and the international community, we remain invisible.  India has no government database on FGM, a secret and silent practice for centuries.