Skip to main content

Ensuring virginity? Outlawed, 21 lakh females in India undergo genital mutilation per yr

By Payal Mathur, Aditi Chaudhary* 

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is one of the most pervasive, ongoing, and harmful human rights violations. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is just one of the forms in which it exercises violence against women. As per World Health Organisation (WHO), Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the procedure of partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other types of injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
It is carried out on young girls between infancy and adolescence, and sometimes on adult women. Though medically, the practice has no health benefits for girls and women yet is practised worldwide. And it is also ubiquitous across various African, Middle Eastern, and Asian nations. In India, an estimated 2.1 million girls and women undergo the procedure every year.
February 6th 2023, marks more than a decade of recognising The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. In India, too, the evil practice of FGM has been outlawed since 2016. Nevertheless, it continues to be practised in some parts of the country owing to its deeply entrenched cultural roots.
Despite the combined efforts of various stakeholders, there are still numerous segments of society where this cruel practice is ingrained. A massive number of people are not even aware of such a barbaric practice existing within the peer groups of their residents.
The discomforting reality is that it accompanies excruciating pain and causes severe bleeding and urinating problems, eventual cysts and infections. Undeniably, complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths are also concomitant. Irrespective of all this, it is extensively practised citing age-old customs and traditions. It holds the importance of the cultural distinctiveness of girls and women in diverse regions.
The practice is further worrying because it is typically done in a highly unsanitary way and the unhygienic procedure causes severe health issues like excruciating pain, profuse bleeding- haemorrhage, shock, menstrual problems, infections and even death. The long term effects of anxiety, depression, trauma and extreme pressure on the survivors' mental and sexual heath cannot be ignored.
The reasons why people practice FGM vary from one society to another. In some cases, it is seen as a way to control female sexuality and ensure virginity before the marriage. In other cases, it is a way to protect family honour or reduce the risk of promiscuity among women. Some ethnic communities follow it to restrain sexual acts between youth members of the group.
Some newly established groups follow it to maintain ethnicity (identity protection in case groups migrate and displace a lot). All of it is done under the belief that keeping the group's distinctness during social disruptions is crucial. Whatever the reason, FGM has severe physical and psychological consequences for those who have to undergo it.
Since 2008, UNFPA and UNICEF have been in charge of the most remarkable global effort to end FGM in 30 nations. In conjunction with governments, NGOs and other decision-makers of the UNFPA-UNICEF joint Programme, they are working tirelessly towards ending this practice. According to a UNFPA estimation, 2 million FGMs will occur in the next decade due to program interruptions during the pandemic.
Given the situation, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of eliminating FGM by 2030 seems like a far-fetched dream.
What can we as a society do?
The media plays a critical role in spreading factual information to households and educating people about the necessity of positive change. It might raise people's awareness and motivate them to oppose this disgusting practice.
Through a flexible and open mindset, people can understand their rights related to FGM. Stakeholders can use various traditional communication techniques, such as drama, poetry, dance, music, and storytelling, to communicate the problems associated with FGM.
To help patients and communities understand the negative impacts of FGM, healthcare providers like ASHA workers and ANMs can raise awareness. We need to educate women about their sexual and reproductive rights and reproductive health in order to assist them in realising the ill effects of FGM. Additionally, health professionals can provide outreach initiatives, including community and school health education, to increase awareness.
The road ahead involves promoting and defending human rights which are the direct responsibilities of UN organisations. All sexual and reproductive rights programmes related to adolescents and young girls should have a particular focus on this. Girls in such an age group already undergo substantial physical, psychological and social changes; at that tender age dealing with another of such issues is a war and nightmare for young girls and women.
Keeping all this in mind, the decision-makers must include FGM in various policies to bring change. Inaction is not an option; to permanently end FGM, we must get together, spread awareness, and take action. The wholesome development of all women and girls cannot be unilaterally done but can only be achieved by ensuring equitable access to healthcare, work and educational opportunities; only that would hasten the end of FGM.
*Respectively: PhD Scholar. Amity University, Jaipur; PhD Scholar, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai



'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.