Female Genital Mutilation : A ritual or an exploitation of women?

  • September 23, 2017
  • 2:06 am
  • Riddhi Puntambekar

What is Female Genital Mutilation? The female genital mutilation is the practice and the tradition in some cultures of partially and totally removing the external genital part of girls and young women for non-medical reasons.

The Female Genital Mutilation is also known as female genital cutting and it is the ritual of removal of some or all of the external female genital. According to the Crimes (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 1996 it defines the female genital mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation is defined by the WHO as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. It is recognized as a violation of the human rights of women and girls. According to section 324, 326 and 325 of Indian Penal Code, whoever voluntarily causes hurt or grievous hurt to any person by using any instrument for cutting or anyinstrument which, used as a weapon of offence is likely to cause death shall be punished and in female genital mutilation also the female or girl’s clitoris was cutted by an instrument by which they suffer from extreme genital pain which is likely to cause death.

 The female genital mutilation mainly consists of three types and these are as follows-

  1. Clitoridectomy: – it includes the partial or total removal of the clitoris.
  2. Excision: – it means the partial or total removal of clitoris and labia minora (two inner folds of the vulva) with or without excision of the labia majora( two outer folds of the vulva).
  3. Infibulation: – it is narrowing of the vaginal orifice with a lowering seal. The seal is formed by the cutting and re-positioning the labia minora and labia majora. This can take place with or without removal of clitoris.
  4. All other harmful procedure to female genitalia for non- medical purpose.


This practiced was found in many countries like Sudan, Asia, Africa, Indonesia, Yemen, Egypt, Sierra and many more communities from these areas around the world. And in half countries most girls are cut before the age of five but generally it takes place after attaining puberty.

The United Nations population fund estimated in 2010 that 20% of women affected by female genital mutilation had been infibulated generally a practice was found largely in northeast Africa.

 Typically it was carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade. Female genital mutilation is conducted from the days after birth to puberty. The female genital mutilation is included removal of the clitoral hood it means a skin which is folded and that surrounds and protects the glans of clitoris or removal of the inner labia.

As according to section 322 of Indian penal code and this section defines the offence of voluntarily causing grievous hurt. It says that whoever voluntarily causes hurt, if the hurt which he has intention to cause is grievous hurt or if the hurt which he has knowledge to be likely to cause is grievous hurt, and if the hurt, which has been caused by him is grievous hurt, is said ‘voluntarily to cause grievous hurt’. In other words, the offender must voluntarily cause hurt, if his intention is to cause grievous hurt or if he has knowledge that he is likely to cause grievous hurt, and if the hurt caused by him is grievous hurt, then the offender is said voluntarily to cause grievous hurt and in the present article the person who removed the clitoral hood or clitoris has knowledge that it gives grievous hurt to that girl or a female.

Also, the WHO said that this practice reflects inequality between sexes and constitute an extreme form of discrimination against women. Generally, it is carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. This practice also violation a person’s right to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

The right to physical integrity includes the right to freedom from torture, inherent dignity of the person, the right to liberty and security of the person, and the right to privacy. This category of rights is protected by various human rights instruments including Articles 1, 3 and 5 of UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights).


 By female genital mutilation, it affects the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women. The effects was also depend upon the expertise of the practitioner, the hygiene, condition under which it is performed, the amount of resistance and the general health condition of the female undergoing the procedure.

The immediate effects by their practice includes severe pain, shock, tetanus or infection, urine retention, ulceration of genital region and injury to adjust tissue, wound infection, urinary infection, fever and hemorrhage and infection can be severe enough to cause death.

Section 270 says that if any person malignantly does any act which may spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, he shall be punished.  And by cutting the female genital part, she had to be suffered many disease which is dangerous for her life.

The future effects by female genital mutilation includes complications during childbirth, anemia, damage to urethra resulting in urinary incontinence, dyspareunia(painful sexual intercourse), sexual dysfunction, hypersensitivity of genital area and increased risk of HIV transmission as well as psychological effects. At childbirth, many women also have to be cut again because the vaginal opening is too small to allow for the passage of a baby.

The FGM violates a number of human rights of women and it involves the removal of healthy sexual organs without medical necessity and is usually performed on adolescent and girls with harmful physical and psychological consequences, it violates the rights to non-discrimination, health, and bodily integrity. FGM threatens the lives of girls and women, thereby violating their human rights to life, liberty and security of the person, as conducted such type of practices is violating one of the provision which is imbedded in the Indian constitution.

The practice is rooted in gender inequality. It arises from differences in socially constructed gender roles and it also attempts to control women’s sexuality and ideas about purity, modesty.

The practice of FGM is often a deeply rooted custom and in areas where the practice is required or prevalent, there is substantial pressure to undergo FGM. Governments enacting legislation to prohibit the practice must acknowledge that not undergoing FGM may also subject women to further discrimination as they are ostracized or not able to marry.

The practice of FGM fits within the definition of discrimination against women as set forth in various human rights instruments as a practice exclusively directed towards women and girls with the effect of interfering with their enjoyment of their fundamental rights.

And protocol to the African charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in African explicitly recognize that practices harmful to women such as FGM are violation of human rights. And Article 2 of the universal declaration of human rights 1948 states ‘everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex.’ Also in December 2012, the UN General assembly adopted a unanimous resolution on the elimination of FGM and also Nigeria and Zambia recently made FGM illegal.

So, why our country can’t abolish this practice? Whether it is difficult for our country to make laws related to FGM!!!!

Yes, it is possible for our country to frame laws regarding FGM if all the citizens shall focus on their obligations and some of them are as follows:-

  1. The duty to modify customs and traditions that discriminate against women.
  2. The duty to abolish practices that are harmful to children and women.
  3. The duty to ensure health care and access to health information.
  4. The duty to ensure a social order in which rights can be realized.