Activist Masooma Ranalvi Helps Us Lift The Silence Around Female Genital Mutilation
- IWB Post
- November 16, 2019
Update: A petition seeking a ban on FGM — also called female circumcision, where a part or whole of the external genitalia is removed — is pending before the SC. The Supreme Court on November 14 recommended that the matter of female genital mutilation (FGM) practised in the Dawoodi Bohra community be referred to a seven-judge bench and heard alongside other matters pertaining to women’s right to pray, stating that it was a “seminal issue” regarding “the powers of constitutional courts to tread on question as to whether a particular practice is essential to religion or is an integral of the religion”.
“We have been silent for generations and now we are talking about this much secret practice in public,” says activist Masooma Ranalvi as she speaks about female genital mutilation (FGM).
Masooma was seven years old when she had a first-hand experience of female genital mutilation (a painful practice among Dawoodi Bohra Muslims, also known as khatna or khafz, which involves removal of the prepuce tissue of the clitoris).
Thus, an FGM survivor herself and a founding member of We Speak Out (an organisation dedicated to the fight against FGM), Masooma today is at the forefront of the war which has been waged to end female genital mutilation in India. As she goes ahead in her pursuit, she is well aware that she traverses a hostile terrain which gets all the way more difficult owing to the secrecy maintained around the practice of FGM.
In a recent Twitter dialogue with IWB, Masooma helped us lift the silence and secrecy around FGM, addressed the religious politics around the practice, and talked about how the practice is a violation of human rights.
Here are excerpts from the chat:
On people’s denial of the existing practice of Female Genital Mutilation and giving it religious connotations
@indianwomenblog By speaking out, by having conversations with women, girls and men. By breaking the shroud of secrecy and education and awareness building
@indianwomenblog The practice even though it is https://t.co/q9SKWMvbzB is given a religious connotation. This makes it tough to challenge. However this is NOT a religious practice. It has nothing to do with Islam
@indianwomenblog Religion is used by men and by religious leaders to control women. So they use the garb to perpetuate this practice. Essentially it is a patriarchal form of control of women.
— Masooma Ranalvi (@RanalviMasooma) October 10, 2018
@indianwomenblog But the fact is there is no mention of FGM in the Quran. There is no mention of this being done to the Holy Prophets wives and daughters. It is much later that this prevalent cultural practice was given an islamic connotation
On the in-community resistance from the women themselves
@indianwomenblog @SpeakoutonFGM @RanalviMasooma I see khafz as a form of intergenerational trauma, which is normalized and passed down by those who really believe it’s necessary, normal and not harmful. Intergenerational trauma ends and we question all the lies we’ve been told about our gender and our bodies.
@farzanadoctor @indianwomenblog @SpeakoutonFGM And extra marital sex. See how virginity of girls is such a huge deal. But Virginity of boys is looked down upon. So it is these women who oppose us
@farzanadoctor @indianwomenblog @SpeakoutonFGM Women are the flag bearers I Fb patriarchy. They have been made to believe since centuries that they are second to the man, her role is to give pleasure to the man. That is what fgm is all about. Pleasure to man and denial of sexual pleasure to women.
On the involvement and global pressure of International bodies in the cultural battle against FGM
@indianwomenblog @RanalviMasooma @farzanadoctor It already has, which is fantastic! We’ve received such amazing support from large organizations and Bohra women in the diaspora.
@SpeakoutonFGM @indianwomenblog @farzanadoctor Most certainly. We are not alone. This practice exists in over 30 countries in the world and we are all joined in our pain and in our collective resolve to end it in our communities and countries
On the difference between male circumcision and female genital mutilation
@indianwomenblog @rashjo These are 2 completely different procedures. There is a huge difference between the penis and the clitoris. Anatomically they differ. MC cases no harm to the penis. FGM damages the clitoris. Our fight as women is against FGM.
@indianwomenblog @rashjo FGM is Khafz and Khafz us FGM. You cut the clitoral hood of a girl for purity and to control her sexuality. It is FGM
@indianwomenblog @rashjo Fgm needs to be called out as a criminal practice. There is grievous hurt, irreparable damage and emotional trauma of someone touching and cutting your genitals. D
On curbing women’s sexuality by FGM and sex education as the way to move forward
@indianwomenblog @farzanadoctor @SpeakoutonFGM Yes absolutely. Women need to understand what is the clitoris. How sensitive a part it is how this is the only part in our bodies meant to giving us sexual https://t.co/HZGdKlNPfN it has 8000 nerve endings and cutting the clitoral hood exposes this ultra sensitive part
@RanalviMasooma @indianwomenblog @farzanadoctor And because the hood is so thin, it’s impossible not to damage the clitoris in the process of cutting the hood.
@SpeakoutonFGM @indianwomenblog @farzanadoctor Yes https://t.co/YoDEnS7HRH 9 out of 10 cases the clitoris gets cut
On the progress of banning FGM in India
@indianwomenblog WCD minister has said in a media interview that FGM is a crime. But there is no action on the ground. The matter is now before the Supreme Court which will decide on this
On healing from the trauma of FGM
@indianwomenblog It’s not easy for us. We do have any funds to do so. What we do is provide a safe space for women to talk about their experiences and share their problems. We do support them emotionally and in our group we have several counselors who do just that
@indianwomenblog @RanalviMasooma Also storytelling platforms like #Sahiyo help people come to terms with what happened to them and find peace.