27 January, 2021

The Yin, Wounded

A primitive rite for Bohra women sees its first murmurs of protest

Amit Haralkar
The Yin, Wounded

A Cutting Tradition

  • Female circumcision, now widely referred to as female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • Dawoodi Bohra Muslims are Ismaili Shias and trace their origins to the region in and around Egypt, from where they might have adopted the practice besides other local customs. Now intrinsic to their identity.
  • Most of the community lives in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Population: 10 lakh. Are prosperous traders and well educated.
  • Most Bohras are under the control of the clergy, headed by the Syedna. Those who question the clergy’s authority find themselves excommunicated.
  • Bohra girls undergo genital mutilation when they are seven years old. It is a clandestine ritual unlike male circumcision that is publicly celebrated. No other Muslim sect in India observes this ritual.
  • The hood of the clitoris is cut off. This is followed by application of an antiseptic and an indigenous medicine called abeer that cools.
  • The crude mutilation of the clitoris exposes...


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