Bohras are the only community in India, where FGM (also known as Female Genital Mutilation or khatna) is being secretly practiced in the 2 million strong Bohra community. The practice involves cutting a part of a 7 year old girl child’s clitoris. The practice is harmful to the girl child and the woman and has been declared as a human rights and child rights violation by the United Nations.
Recently when the Australian Court convicted and sentenced 3 bohras for practicing FGM on 2 young girls, there were a spate of resolutions passed by Jamaats of several western countries like USA,UK,France,Australia asking Bohras living in these countries to not practice FGM as it is against the laws in these countries.On Sunday at a public Vaaz the Syedna proclaimed ‘“It must be done. If it is a man, it can be done openly and if it is a woman it must be discreet. But the act must be done. Do you understand what I am saying? Let people say what they want…but Rasoolullah [Prophet Mohammed] has said it…Rasoolullah will never say anything against humanity. He has only spoken [of] what is beneficial…from the perspective [“haisiyat”] of the body and the soul. What do they say?…that this is harmful? Let them say it, we are not scared of anyone.”
This is a clear reference to FGM/khatna, even thought the word was not used. He further dismisses and derides all opposition which “claim khatna is harmful” and tells bohras it is their religious duty to practice it.
It is for the first time that women in this community have openly come out to speak about this secretive practice and have bared in public the ill effects this practice has had on them. It is the duty of the religious leadership to hear the voices of its own followers and women and address their pleas.
A centuries old practice aimed at curbing the sexuality of women has no place in the 21st century.