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Female genital cutting prevalent in literate Kerala

By: KP Shaukathali, Kripa K Chidambaran

Kozhikode: The cruel practice of female genital cutting or female genital mutilation (FGM) is not happening only in faraway Africa. Its not just being practised in tribal societies too. From new born babies to young girls aged 6 and 7 to adult women are regularly being cut right here, in Kerala.

An investigation conducted by the Mathrubhumi team reveals the shocking reality of female circumcision centres functioning in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram.

The process involves altering or injuring female genital organs by ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

The investigation team came across a clinic in the nearby beach in Kozhikode that is conducting the process. It is carried out secretly, not even the neighbours are aware of it. The website of the clinic does not give away a single clue about this. But when contacted, if felt genuine, they will tell about the details of the process.

When the reporter contacted the clinic, as a potential customer, she was called to the clinic. Prime facia the clinic was functioning under unhygienic conditions with no facilities. The whole area was covered in green curtains.

Two alleged doctors, a young lady and a senior fellow, came and talked about the process. They assured of complete secrecy and safety for the process that is worth Rs 4000.

The senior doctor even claimed that he had conducted FGM while in service as civil surgeon at the government hospital in Mukkam.

"A number of women avail our services and the process will lead to high sexual satisfaction and a happy marital life," he said.

And in Thiruvananthapuram, the FGM process was known through online and was able to contact the mediators.

According to them, many clinics here provide the circumcision service. The rate varies from Rs 6000 to Rs 8000 according to hospitals.

Female genital mutilation is a common process in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Coimbatore and Chennai. In Bengaluru, clinics demand Rs 28,000 plus anaesthesia charges for the process.

According to World Health Organisation, more than 200 million girls and women across 30 countries, who are alive today, have been subjected to FGM. International agencies have described the practice as child abuse and a violation of human rights.

Meanwhile, health effects depend on the procedure. They can include recurrent infections, difficulty urinating and passing menstrual flow, chronic pain, development of cysts, inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth, fatal bleeding and even death during the procedure. There are no known health benefits.

Sunita Tiwari, a New Delhi lawyer has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against FGM seeking a ban on the custom in India. The apex court has issued notices to the central government and the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Delhi seeking their response to the petition.

Earlier Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, had strongly condemned the practise of female genital mutilation in India saying the ministry has decided to use provisions in existing laws to crack down on the practice. Despite this, the investigation showed that the cruel practice is common among even the highly literate Kerala community.


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