Saturday October 21, 2017

‘Khatna’ or Female Genital Mutilation : A barbarism allowed in the name of Religion and Tradition

Is Female Genital Mutilation a religious practice or a tradition to be followed or just insane cruelty?

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

When I got it done for my daughter, I did it because it was  a custom to be followed“ said Sophie Johari to a newspaper. Aarefa Johari (29), journalist with Scroll.in and co-founder of SAHIYO, an organisation against FGM, was the unfortunate child of 7 years who had to go through the traumatic procedure of ‘khatna’. Her mother regrets not standing up for her daughter then and now supports her campaign on Facebook.

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

According to WHO, Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises 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. Also according to their report more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries and is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.

Why is it practised?

In her book ‘The Hidden Face of Eve’, Nawal El-Saadawi, a Muslim victim of infibulation(a type of circumcision in which external genitalia is removed and the opening is sewn for bodily discharges) says,” Behind circumcision lies the belief that, by removing parts of girls’ external genitals organs, sexual desire is minimized. This permits a female who has reached the dangerous age of puberty and adolescence to protect her virginity and therefore her honor, with greater ease. Female circumcision is meant to preserve the chastity of young girls by reducing their desire for sexual intercourse.”

Debates on Male Circumcision vs. Female Genital Mutilation

Male circumcision has been a reality for hundreds of years in the name of tradition and religion for many Jewish and Islamic families. It has been a topic a global discussion that since circumcision is an unnecessary invasive surgery performed on un-consenting children, why is female genital mutilation criticized and male circumcision condoned.  Aren’t both supposed to be equally wrong? Why is one illegal while the other is not?

The biggest difference between male and female circumcision is the amount of tissue that is being removed in the process along with the conditions in which the process is being carried out. Mostly in male circumcision, part or all of his foreskin is removed or the tissue(frenulum) connecting the foreskin to the penis is removed whereas in FGM, entire clitoris maybe removed. Circumcision is usually carried out by or in presence of a medical practitioner whereas FGM is an undercover activity performed in an unhygienic manner by untrained midwives. But this generalization may not be true in every case since incidents of deadly male circumcisions have been reported.

Knives used for FGM: Wikimedia Commons
Knives used for FGM: Wikimedia Commons

Some sociologists and ethicist even disagree with the argument of attributing FGM with patriarchy and say it over- simplifies the social and cultural causes of the process. Throughout much of Africa, it is practiced around puberty for both boys and girls alike.

 Where is FGM practised?

Female Genital Mutilation is most prevalent in Africa, Egypt being the country with the highest number of cases. It is also practised in some parts of Middle East and Asia. In India, the practice is followed among the Dawoodi Bohra community, based primarily in states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Bhendi bazaar district in Mumbai is where the major Bohra Muslim population lives.

Who are Bohra Muslims?

Bohra is a Gujarati-speaking caste originated from Kutch area of India. These were predominantly a business community, some of whom converted to Islam. There was a dispute in leadership in the 16thcentury AD and the ones who chose to accept Dawood ibn Qutubshah Burhanudeen as their leader came to be known as Dawoodi Bohras. Their spiritual leader is called as ‘Syedna’. The community is well reputed for being progressive traders and wealthy. The current Syedna has close ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The spokesperson of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin has been quoted “Bohra women should understand that our religion advocates the procedure and they should follow it without any argument” on the issue of FGM. As described by a previous article, even the current Syedna in a sermon at the Saifee Mosque in Bhendi Bazaar said “This act has to happen! If it is a man, it can be openly done but if it is a woman, it has to be done discreetly”. He did not explicitly mention the act of FGM and left his words open to interpretation.

In India many campaigns are being carried out online and on the grounds to put an end to this barbaric practice. One such effort is undertaken by Masooma Ranalvi and Aarefa Johari in the form of an online petition to Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Women and Child Development. More about their efforts can be read here.

You can reach the author @ShivangiTripati

6 COMMENTS

  1. Cutting male and female genitals are similar. 1) They are unnecessary, extremely painful, and traumatic. 2) They can have adverse sexual and psychological effects. 3) They are generally done by force on children. 4) They are generally supported by local medical doctors. 5) Pertinent biological facts are not generally known where procedures are practiced. 6) They are defended with reasons such as tradition, religion, aesthetics, cleanliness, and health. 7) The rationale has currently or historically been connected to controlling sexual pleasure. 8) They are often believed to have no effect on normal sexual functioning. 9) They are generally accepted and supported by those who have been subjected to them. 10) Those who are cut have a compulsion to repeat their trauma on their children. 11) The choice may be motivated by underlying psychosexual reasons. 12) Critical public discussion is generally taboo where the procedures are practiced. 13) They can result in serious complications that can lead to death. 14) The adverse effects are hidden by repression and denial. 15) Dozens of potentially harmful physiological, emotional, behavioral, sexual, and social effects on individuals and societies have never been studied. 16) On a qualitative level, cutting the genitals of male and female children are the same. The harm starts with the first cut, any cut. 17) The decision is generally controlled by men though women may be supportive.18) They violate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 19) They generally exist together. 20) To stop one, we must stop both. Then we may better develop toward our individual and social potential. May courage overcome conformity.

    • I’m preaching to the choir for a while now: Girls are not off the hook as long as we throw boys under the bus. It’s not difficult, isn’t it?

    • It depends on the conditions in which the process takes place. Although doctors say that the adverse impacts of FGM, if carried out in its most intense forms, is far more than circumcision.

  2. Just to minimize the sexual desires of a female one will do female genital mutilation ? When will people grow up 🙁 For all those males who consider themselves as a superior breed over the female ones, change your mindset !! One has no right to bound other person’s desire. This is totally ridiculous.

  3. The WHO recommends considering circumcision as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention program in areas with high rates of HIV. Circumcision in general is associated with reduced rates of cancer causing forms of HPV and risk of both UTIs and cancer of the penis. Risks rates are usually very very low and only higher when the procedure is performed by an inexperienced operator, in unsterile conditions, or when the child is at an older age. Circumcision does NOT appear to have a negative impact on sexual function by multiple studies. Most reliable studies show there are benefits and negative effects are rare.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Not Skip Breakfast!

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Pexels

New Delhi, October 17, 2017: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Have you ever wondered why we call this meal ‘breakfast’?

After waking up you must treat your poor belly with some love as it’s been on a FAST for 6 to 8 hours. That is the reason why the first meal of the day is called ‘breakfast.’ You must break your fast with a healthy, nutritious, carbs filled diet. And there are many reasons for that.

Here are the top 5 reasons Why you should not skip breakfast

1. Weight Loss

You may be skipping your breakfast thinking you are consuming fewer calories. But what you don’t realize is that you are unknowingly setting yourself up for a disappointment.

Skipping brings your blood sugar level down, and that results in you having less energy and later, cravings for calories. To make up for your feebleness, you gobble up whatever appears in front of you without caring about its nutritious value. Thus, it is important for weight loss as it keeps you energetic and stops you from consuming more calories as the day progresses.

2. Breakfast Helps You Stay Focused

When you are running low on calories, your body has to work extra hard to sustain you. During this process, you will find it extremely difficult to focus on the task before you as your body will keep reminding you of the struggle it is going through. This is another reason for eating breakfast so that you can focus on the job at hand.

Studies have proven the importance of breakfast by showing how our memory and concentration levels increase after our first meal of the day.

3. A Full Stomach Means A Happy Day

Breakfast Muesli
A full stomach means an energetic start for a day. Pixabay

It is important that you start off your day with a smile on your face. Research suggests that consuming breakfast that is rich in carbs, proteins, whole grains can uplift your mood.

A healthy breakfast provides glucose to our brain after a long fast.  What happens is, our blood glucose levels increase after having a healthy breakfast, giving more energy to our body, which in turn results in a happy mood.

If you a have a child, a good breakfast is very important. Children who don’t have a healthy become jaded in school and tend to have shorter attention spans.

4. Helps Avoid Heart Disease

According to a study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, heart disease has a slight association with breakfast. Men who admitted missing breakfast on a regular basis had a 27 percent higher chance of heart-related diseases than those who ate breakfast regularly.

It is quite clear how important is breakfast for our first meal of the day and there are multiple reasons for attending to it sincerely.

– prepared by Siddheshwar Sharma. Twitter: @MancSiddheshwar

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Hinduism- the oldest religion in the world is based on certain established beliefs. Read more to find out what these beliefs are.

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justice and Injustice factor of Hinduism
Hinduism of Hindus when compared between justice and injustice

Hinduism being the world’s oldest religion does not have any proper beginning story like the other monotheistic religions like Christianity and Islam do. It has no human founder. Therefore it leads us to the question that if there was no human who started Hinduism then how did its teaching come to being. Well, there is no definitive way to answer this question. What we can answer though are the nine beliefs of Hinduism. Hinduism is a religion which believes that if a person realizes the Truth within himself then only he can reach a point where the consciousness of man and god are one.

Our beliefs determine our thought process and attitude toward life which lead us to our actions. It is said that we create our destiny from our actions. Beliefs regarding matters such as God, soul, and cosmos often shape our perceptions towards life. Hindus believe in a variety of concepts but there are few critical ones which shape the basic belief of Hinduism. The following are the nine beliefs which not exactly very comprehensive but they form the base of the spirituality of Hinduism.

Are you familiar with the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism? Pixabay

All Pervasive Divine Power

  • Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.

Rig Veda – Wikipedia Commons

Divinity of the Sacred Scriptures

  • Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world’s most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God’s word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.

Hinduism – Pixabay

Creation Cycle

  • Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation, and dissolution.

Hindu Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi, Wikimedia

Belief in Karma

  • Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words, and deeds.

Reincarnation and Liberation

  • Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny.

penance
Belur, Chennakeshava Temple, Gajasurasamhara, Shiva slaying the demon Gajasura. Wikimedia

Worship in Temples

  • Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods.

Hindu dharma
Hindu Sadhguru –  Pixabay

Belief in a Enlightened Satguru

  • Hindus believe that an enlightened master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation, and surrender in God.

Hinduism, Hindu temple, Krishna idol
Krishna idol. Pixabay

Propagation of Non-Violence and Compassion towards living things

  • Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered and therefore practice ahimsa, non-injury, in thought, word and deed.

The symbol has been adopted by various religions and cultures across the world.
The swastika is a Hindu symbol of spiritual principles and values. Wikimedia Commons.

Respect and Tolerance for other faiths

  • Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God’s Light, deserving tolerance, and understanding.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha (@siatipton)

One response to “Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know”

  1. Please use proper words for our culture. There are no ‘beliefs’ in Hinduism. There are only ‘hypotheses’ of Hinduism. Belief is something a person is required to adhere to, even in the face of disproving evidence. It demands a suspension of rational thought which goes against the basic nature of Hinduism. Please do not explain Hinduism using the same terminology used by Abrahamic religions. Or more appropriately, call Hinduism and other non-Abrahamic religions as ‘dharma’ to distinguish their inherent nature. Even religious Shinto-Buddhist Japanese say they have no religion when asked. Also, I do not know how you came up with these nine basic so-called ‘beliefs’. I am a Hindu and have never heard of some of them. Please call them ‘some’ of the hypotheses of Hinduism that ‘some’ Hindus agree with. Disagree with ‘tolerance for other faiths’, respect for other dharma – yes, tolerance – not applicable. This word ‘tolerance’ is required by Abrahamic religions which are intrinsically supremacist. Hence they need tolerance to be able to live in a diverse civil society without the tendency to occasionally commit violence for their religion. A dharma like Hinduism has nothing to ‘tolerate’. A Hindu/Jain/Buddhist/Shinto/Taoist/etc. does not care about the religious ‘labels’ and will easily exchange gods/practices/hypotheses with each other if they make sense or are harmless but satisfy some need. Of course, things that are bad deserve criticism and no tolerance (except for basic human respect). How can anyone attempt to define a culture that has always been and will always be in flux as human knowledge increases? It’s time we restored our so-called ‘religion’ to what it always has been i.e. ancient science.

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