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women doctors promote female genital mutilation, may face action
MUMBAI: At a time when voices of dissent against khatna or female genital mutilation (FGM) performed on little girls in the Dawoodi Bohra community are getting stronger, a group of six Bohra women, including two doctors, have formed a group called Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom (DBWRF) in support of female circumcision.
While the subject is still being debated in legal and medical circles in India, the involvement of two doctors as founders of the group endorsing khatna or khafz - a procedure where a pinch of skin from the clitoral hood of girls between the ages of six and twelve is sliced off on religious grounds, in silence and secrecy - can warrant action if brought to the attention of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Dr KK Aggarwal, national president of the IMA, told TOI on Thursday.
"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 practise something that is harmless. We don't need a law that victimises a minority community," claimed Dr Fatema Jetpurwala, a homeopath and specialist in neuro-developmental disabilities at Saifee Hospital who is among the founders alongside Dr Alefiya Bapai, a gynaecologist and laparoscopic surgeon at Saifee Hospital; Nafisa Kagalwala, a teacher; Batul Ratlamwala, a home chef; Rashida Diwan, an educator; and Johra Attarwala, a counsellor.
The involvement of doctors in endorsing the act "goes against medical ethics" Aggarwal said. "IMA is a signatory to the World Medical Association's policy cleared at Taipei in October 2016. We condemn the practice of genital mutilation or cutting of women and girls, regardless of the level of mutilation. It is not scientific and we oppose the participation of physicians in these practices," he said.
Although DBWRF believes religion gives them the freedom to practise the custom and offers reasons for its continuation, "these reasons do not justify the considerable damages to a woman's physical and mental health in the long run", said Dr Duru Shah, scientific director of Gynaecworld in Mumbai. "There is no evidence-based material available that talks about the utility of female circumcision but enough to prove that it harms... No doctor should practise it," added Aggarwal.
Aggarwal said, "If I read a report or someone raises a complaint about a doctor propagating FGM, IMA will take it up. The doctor will have to show institutional permissions and offer scientific explanations since it is not an established procedure. We will also refer the matter to the ethical committee of the Medical Council of India for further probe."
While international organisations such as WHO and countries like the US, UK, Australia and some African nations are using laws to restrict, regulate, or ban the practice considered an extreme form of human rights violation, Jetpurwala insists 'female circumcision' and 'FGM' are different things. "Khafz is harmless and should not be mixed up with FGM. It is a travesty of justice to call khafz, FGM," reasoned Jetpurwala. According to DBWRF, the removal of a speck of superficial skin is a "simple gentle process in which there is negligible if any, pain". She claims that it is done to "satisfy the religious requirement of taharat (religious purity)" and argues that female circumcision is equivalent to male circumcision, which Shah and Aggarwal dismiss.
"Female circumcision has no medical benefit unlike in boys where complications may occur if the foreskin is not removed. In fact, many outside the community are getting circumcised to lower the risk of cancer," said Shah. In contrast, research reveals grave and permanent damage to health, including haemorrhage, infections, urinary retention, injury to adjacent organs, shock and severe pain, pointed out Aggarwal. "Long-term complications include severe scarring, chronic bladder and urinary tract infections, urologic and obstetric complications, apart from psychological and social problems," he added.
DBWRF's theories refute every line of reasoning that has surfaced in the anti-khatna movement in the last two years. "We do not accept that female circumcision is a mutilation. It is a harmless procedure and as such should not be termed FGM," reads DBWRF's explanation on their website.
Masooma Ranalvi, who was one of the first to bring the issue to light with her personal experience of undergoing khatna at seven, says: "It is shocking that educated people especially doctors after taking a Hippocratic Oath are supporting something that is in violation of that code. Not only are they tampering with what is God given but also committing a form of sexual assault."
Feds Promise to Protect Half a Million America Girls from Genital Mutilation
An Indian-heritage woman doctor is facing a lifetime jail sentence for allegedly helping immigrant Somali mothers cut the genitalia from their two American seven-year-old daughters, and federal officials have promised to wipe out the imported practice which threatens more than half a million American girls and women. “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse,” the acting Assistant Attorney General of the justice department’s criminal division, Kenneth Blanco, said April 13.
“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch said in a statement. “The practice has no place in modern society,” he claimed.
However, that practice of “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting” already has a large place in newly diverse America.
“In slightly more than two decades, from 1990 to 2012, the total number of women and girls in the United States at risk for FGM/C or its consequences increased by 224%, from 168,000 to 545,000,” according to an government research report in the March/April 2016 issue of Public Health Reports.
The number is high because officials counted the number of daughters of immigrants from African and Arab population countries where small or complete FGM/C is considered healthy and morally good, and is endorsed by orthodox Islamic preachers and texts, largely because it is intended to clip the daughters’ sexual desire.
Khmer Rouge terror in Cambodia
Isis would use chemical weapons in attack on UK, says minister
Islamic State wants to carry out a mass casualty attack in Britain and has “no moral barrier” to using chemical weapons, a minister has said.
The security minister Ben Wallace said there were reports of Isis using chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq, where it controls large areas, and that Moroccan authorities had apprehended a cell in February which was harbouring substances that could be used to make either a bomb or a “deadly toxin”.
He also pointed to a recent Europol report that warned of the chemical threat and the potential realisation of “everybody’s worst fear”.
He told the Sunday Times that the group’s ambition was “definitely mass casualty attacks. They want to harm as many people as possible and terrorise as many people as possible.
“They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country.
“The casualty figures which could be involved would be everybody’s worst fear.
“We have certainly seen reports of them using it in Syria and Iraq [and] we have certainly seen aspiration for it in Europe.”
Wallace also warned about the threat from terror groups, Russia and cyber-attackers trying to plant people in the government, the military and leading businesses.
“There are traitors. We have to be on our guard for the enemy within,” he said.
“The insider threat, as we would call it, is real and it can be exploited and there are people trying to do that as we speak.”
THis comment comes after a year in which Europe suffered a spate of terror attacks using less sophisticated means.
In two of the most high-profile attacks in Nice and Berlin, lone attackers drove lorries through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day and browsing a Christmas market. In March, three coordinated suicide bombers attacked the airport and metro system in Brussels.
Isis claimed responsibility for all three atrocities.
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