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Hundreds of Bohra community girls in Hyderabad undergo female genital mutilation despite tough laws

Hyderabad: The cruel practice of female genital cutting or female genital mutilation (FGM) is still practiced among the Bohra community in India and others around the world despite tough laws.

Zero Tolerance Day for Female Genital Mutilation originated on February 6. Both the United Nations and the National Commission for Women in India have taken note of this practice.

Hundreds of Hyderabadi young girls from Trimulgherry, Red hills and other parts including Old city undergo this procedure every year. Some girls were taken to Mumbai, Kolkata or Gujarat for the procedure, but now this act is carried out by doctors in the city itself.

FGMC is a traditional practice done when the girls are five or six years old. This practice is believed to enhance a girl’s beauty, honor, marriageability, social status, and chastity. Parents encourage cutting so that the family honor and the girl’s best interest are protected if they refuse to follow this tradition they are likely to a face community boycott.

The Bohra community believes that the clitoral head is ‘unwanted skin,’ a ‘source of sin’ that will make women ‘stray’ out of their marriages. They say the clitoral head as ‘haraam ki boti’ (immoral lump of flesh).

A 37-year-old woman from Hyderabad who had undergone FGM when she was seven years old said.“Here, 99 per cent of young girls undergoes khatna (FGM), because this is an age-old practice. It is the most secretive practice that happens in the most close-knit community in the city. No one will talk about it here.”

She also added that the gynecologists in super specialty hospitals are ready to carry out the procedure. “I cannot reveal the name of the hospitals, but gynecologists from famous hospitals in the city are ready to do this surgery, and agreeing to do it in secret.”

A 42-year-old Bohra community member said in the past, the procedure caused immense pain because of the way it was done. “Earlier, old women (nannys) from the Bohra community used to perform this procedure. They did it without anesthesia, which causes pain, shock, tetanus, genital sores, excessive bleeding etc. But now things have changed. Surgical procedure with anesthesia and antibiotics has reduced the risk of infection.”