Two Mumbai women doctors support FGM, claim it is a 'harmless procedure' that comes under religious freedom

Two doctors, have formed a group called Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom (DBWRF) in support of female circumcision. The duo endorse the rituals of khatna or khafz — which cut off a pinch of skin from the clitoral hood of girls between the ages of six and twelve is sliced off on religious grounds.

This endorsement by Alifiya Bapai, a gynaecologist and laparoscopic surgeon at Saifee Hospital; Fatema Jetpurwala, a homeopath and specialist in neuro-develipmental disabilities at Saifee Hospital, Nafisa Kagalwala, a teacher; Batul Ratlamwala, a home chef; Rashida Diwan, an educator; and Johra Attarwala, a counsellor, comes on the heels of Union Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi's strong words against the barbaric practice came across as refreshingly encouraging and reassuring recently.

 Two Mumbai women doctors support FGM, claim it is a harmless procedure that comes under religious freedom

Representational image. Reuters

Just recently, two Detroit-based doctors (one of their wives has been charged with subjecting two seven-year-old girls to genital cutting) will be defending themselves by saying that this practice is a part of religious and cultural community and will argue on the lines of religious freedom.

The Times of India quotes Jetpurwala as saying, "DBWRF has been formed to give voice to mainstream Dawoodi Bohra women who have been taken for granted as a community. We are here to say that we have a right under the constitution to practice something that is harmless. We don't need a law that victimises a minority community."

Jetpurwala also claims that there is a difference between 'female circumcision' and female genital mutilation (FGM). "Khafz is harmless and should not be mixed up with FGM. It is a travesty of justice to call khafz, FGM," she is quoted as saying.

However, The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines FGM as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. The WHO website says the practice that is internationally considered as violation of human rights have affected 200 million girls and women across 30 countries — in Africa, Middle East and Asia. It is mostly performed on girls between the age of one and 15. And that the practice is also viewed as a cleansing procedure to purge the girls’ mind of impure thoughts and desires.

According to the latest report on FGM presented by Lawyers Collective, explains that the concept of khatna is justified by citing socio-cultural reasons but that it is rooted in an idea that female sexuality and desires need to be controlled and thereby, reduced.

The report states: "The perception is that a girl who is circumcised does not get as aroused as one who is in ‘qalfa’ (meaning with a clitoral hood) or one whose clitoris is intact."

The report also argues that FGM should be taken out of religious purview and states: "While the Quran does not sanction female circumcision/khatna/khafz, Daimul Islam, a religious text followed by Bohras, endorses the practice on girls after they reach the age of 7 for hygienic reasons."

Updated Date: Jun 02, 2017 12:45:06 IST