Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) is something that is often associated with African communities, especially those belonging to Dawoodi and other Bohra communities. Not many might even believe that such practices exist in India. 

Latest reports reveal that FMG is carried out even in Kerala, which boasts to have achieved 100% literacy. An investigation conducted by Sahiyo, an organisation working against FGM in Bohra community, has found that the system is practised in some hospitals in the northern districts of Kozhikode and Malappuram in the state. 

Though the members tried to find out the hospitals none of them, except one in Kozhikode, agreed to perform the procedure. It was found that FGM also known as Female Genital Cutting (FGC) is performed by the women belonging to the Muslim community in the area. 

Sahiyo conducted the investigation in February, and the doctors of a private clinic in Kozhikode admitted that they perform the procedure on both boys and girls. It is often referred to as 'sunnath' or circumcision in Kerala. 

 

The doctors claimed that there is an increasing number of Muslim women who approach them demanding to perform the procedure for themselves, their daughters and even daughter-in-laws.

 

They also said that circumcision among female is just cutting of clitoral hood or prepuce of the clitoris and it is 'good for married life.' 

They also said that some women approach them as their husbands or mother-in-laws 'insists on it.' The hospital authorities also claimed that it is very commonly practised in Saudi Arabia, Africa and Egypt and said it is not harmful. 

However, what the doctors are practising at Kozhikode hospital falls under World Health Organisation's definition of FGM. 

Sahiyo carried out the investigation based on a tip-off during a discussion on circumcision of women on females on an online Malayalam forum. The Keralite said that it is often performed by a traditional cutter called as 'Ozathy', who don't have any medical training, but it is also done by some doctors in Malabar region.

Following this member of Sahiyo contacted some doctors in the area, but they were unaware of the practice and opposed to it. However, a small clinic which is famous for carrying out circumcision candidly admitted that they perform it on girls as well. 

When Sahiyo members approached them under the disguise of a woman whose future mother-in-law insists on getting FGM done, the lady doctor at the clinic said that it would help increase sexual pleasure and is good for married life. She also stated that it is becoming popular among a particular sect and is done for women and girls alike. 

The female doctor also said that it is the male doctor, who runs the clinic, who performs the procedure on young girls and recommended that it is better to get done when the girl is an infant.

 

“But these days a lot of women prefer to get it done for themselves immediately after delivering their baby when they’re also getting other stitches to their vagina. That way they have to deal with two pains in one go,”  she said.

 

The doctor also said that some women demand the procedure as it will help enhance sexual pleasure which lessens after delivery. However, she stated that the practice is not compulsory as of now, but if the mother-in-law wants the bride to do it, the procedure becomes mandatory. 

The male doctor stated that the practice is mentioned in the Hadiths, the Islamic texts containing teachings of Prophet. He also denied any knowledge of the fact that the practice is controversial or in some African countries more than just the clitoris is removed as part of it. 

The website of the clinic mentions male circumcision in the list of services. The doctor said that the practice is secretive as it is a female issue and that religious taboos associated with female matters prevent people from discussing it. However, the doctors also asked Sahiyo members to spread the word among friends that they provide the service to women. 

However, it should be known that the practice is not something mentioned anywhere in Quran and in some countries it is practices among Christian, Jewish and animist communities too.

Sahiyo also states that they met two women, one from Kerala and another from Coimbatore who said that one of their relatives had performed Sunnath, but both were not ready to reveal their identity. It is also unclear how widespread the practice is in Kerala or how long it has been practised in Kozhikode. 

Read Sahiyo report in English and Malayalam

If you come across reports of any such practice contact Sahiyo.