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In India, Muslim women who oppose FGM are called infidels

In India, Muslim women who oppose FGM are called infidels

Before he tumbled off his perch in 2014, aged 102, Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, above – leader of a Shia Muslim sect in India – made it abundantly clear that female genital mutilation was a ‘religious duty’, and declared in a sermon:

The act must be done.

According to this report, he was reacting to growing pressure from women with the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim sect to have FGM, or khatna, outlawed.

After his death, an as-yet-unresolved power struggle has been taking place for his title of Dai al-Mutlaq (worldwide head of the sect). One of the claimants, Mufaddal Saifuddin, said:

The act has to happen! If it is a man, then it is right, it can be openly done, but if it is a woman then it must be done discreetly, but then the act has to be done.

His rival, Taher Fakhruddin,  disagreed in a statement:

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a horrific and un-Islamic practice and Syedna Fakhruddin condemns it categorically

According to his statement, women may elect to perform a religiously sanctioned clitoral hood reduction or clitoral hood removal procedure upon reaching the age of legal adulthood. Neither of these procedures involve removal of any part of the clitoris and they are not classified as mutilation according to either United Kingdom or US law. However, clitoral hood removal is classified by the WHO as Type 1a female genital mutilation.

Until a petition calling on the Government of India to outlaw FGM was launched a few months back, many Indians didn’t know that the it happened at all in the country.

The Dawoodi Bohra Muslims are the only community that practices a form of circumcision that dates back 1,400 years, according to the clergy. There are about a million Dawoodi Bohra Muslims globally; the majority live in India and some in Pakistan, with diaspora populations across the world.

Ranalvi

Said Masooma Ranalvi, above, one of the women who spearheaded the petition:

Nobody talked about it at all. It was never a part of conversation, ever. It was such a secret, such a top secret. Sexuality is not anything you talk about with anyone. What happened to me as a child, what part of me was cut or why was it cut, was never something I talked about with my mother or my sisters.

My elder sisters had both been through it in a similar way – exactly the same procedure, my grandmother took them as well. We never communicated with each other, then or as adults. It remained between you and the grandmother that took you for it.

Ranalvi, who runs a publishing house in Delhi, says she was in college when she realised what had been done to her.

I read an article about this practice in Africa, and somewhere in my mind I made the connection that this happened to me. And then I read more and realised that this is what it is: It’s called circumcision.

This is not the first time the women in the community have spoken up against khatna. In 2011, a woman, using a pseudonym, started a petition to stop the practice, aimed at Burhanuddin. People could be counted as supporters without giving their name to avoid backlash. But it didn’t amount to anything.

Then in November 2015, an Australian court convicted three Bohra Muslims, including a community religious leader, for FGM, all forms of which are prohibited in Australia by law. Soon after, parishes or jamaats in Canada and the UK released statements urging their communities to adhere to the law of the land, which, they said, supersedes religious law. The US has had a law against FGM since 1995.

India doesn’t have a specific law addressing FGM. But the country has signed agreements including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Millennium Development Goals and 2015’s Sustainable Development Goals, which mention the elimination of gender inequality and FGM, respectively, as requisite goals for member states.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly recognised FGM as a human-rights violation and voted unanimously to end the practice worldwide by imposing stricter laws and educating stakeholders.

The second petition, which has garnered over 50,000 signatures, did trigger a backlash.

Ranalvi claimed that the signatories have been called promiscuous, bad Bohras and infidels.

We’re braced for a long battle … the process of law-making is not going to be easy.

She says that when the petition closes in a few weeks, they’ll take it to the country’s top minister for women and child development with hopes for a legal sanction against FGM.

5 responses to “In India, Muslim women who oppose FGM are called infidels”

  1. Cali Ron says:

    “We’re braced for a long battle … the process of law-making is not going to be easy.” Very difficult indeed if they are going to rely on petitions to sway the Indian government. If they really want to ban FGM in India they need to forget about petitions and start soliciting funds because the only way anything ever gets changed in India is with bribes and this one is gong to take a lot of bribe money. India’s corruption encompasses every level of government and they are notoriously not humanitarian. It’s that lack of human concern and blatant corruption that allowed Mother Terrorisa to abuse thousands of sick and dying.

    Hard to believe anyone buys the stupid notion that their “god” wants women to be mutilated. Ignorance and delusion go hand in hand.

  2. Smokey says:

    Genital mutilation is disgusting. Actually, any kind of permanent and non-reversible procedure performed on a minor is disgusting. The future will judge us harshly, and rightly so.

    I blame humanity in general more than I blame religion, even in this case. Religion is just a symptom.

  3. Trevor Blake says:

    That peaceful modern majority of Muslims I never fail to hear about sure do take their time in addressing the tiny extremist misunderstanders of Islam. Why, it’s almost like their silence and inactivity is either compliance or cowardice. There must be some other answer – ah! Islamaphobia. That explains everything.

    Not one moment of respect for this slave cult. Or any other.

  4. andym says:

    But I thought FGM had “nothing to do” with Islam….

  5. L.Long says:

    I think that FGM & MGM should be allowed BUT>>>>>
    it can only be done if the person getting it done consents at the age of 21yrs or higher & pain killers are not allowed.
    Bet the practice stops fairly soon. After all muslin men aren’t too mentally strong, as the sight of a female face sends them into a raping frenzy, so you can imagine what cutting the end of his dick off would do, with no pain killers!!!!