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Female Genital Mutilation: Many Pakistani women’s painful secret

A good insight into the situation in Pakistan gives the Express Tribune’s Sub-Editor Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam. In Pakistan, female circumcision is known to be practiced by a few communities along the Iran-Balochistan border, and a few isolated tribes, as well as the Dawoodi Bohra community.

“I don’t want my daughter to have to go through it. I have been through it; my mom has been through it and so has my naani (grandmother).

We have been going through this forever.

It’s a custom – the done thing, but I can’t imagine my baby having to go through the same!

I am 34 and I still remember it distinctly. I felt humiliated even as a seven-year-old. It was not very painful, but I felt slighted at how they held me down, how embarrassed I felt. But most of all I feel resentment – even today – over the fact that we never talked about it before or after that. Everyone pretends like it never happened.”

This is the story related by a Pakistani mother whom I talked to today about Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), practiced in her community.

Today, as the world observes the “International Zero Tolerance Day to FGM/C”, many remain blissfully unaware that this custom, often referred to as female circumcision, is also practiced in Pakistan.

According to the World Health Organisation, FGM/C is a procedure that “intentionally alters or injures female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

The reasons are cultural, traditional and religious. Predominantly, the reason traditionally given for FGM/C is almost inconceivable – that it ensures a woman will remain chaste and guard her against promiscuity, as depending on the degree of the procedure performed, she may not be able to experience sexual pleasure as fully as a woman whose genitalia remain unaltered.

In Pakistan, female circumcision is practiced by a few communities along the Iran-Balochistan border, and a few isolated tribes, as well as the Dawoodi Bohra community. Having said as much, here it is mostly not done very invasively, as opposed to some African countries where FGM/C may involve removal of the entire clitoris and labia.

Read more.

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