Circumcision of Women is Big Business
Posted on August 1st, 2019

Fatima Yasmin

Country: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is seeing an alarming rise in female genital cutting among adults.  Ever since a recent health ministry circular prohibiting medical professionals from performing it on baby girls, and strong protests against the ban by leading Islamic organizations, a new movement has gained momentum promoting the practice among adult women.

A group calling itself Muslimahs for Circumcision has produced a video about its supposed benefits while others have started a couple of WhatsApp groups for conservative Muslim women who are interested in the procedure.  Members are continuously bombarded with videos, before and after photos and articles extolling its many sexual and health benefits and once interested are texted the names of doctors and clinics that perform the procedure. Members who have had the procedure done are requested to leave so others can be added or are given the option to stay and recommend to the group administrator other women for the procedure after consulting them, for which we believe they are also paid.

A major selling point is that what they call ‘female circumcision’ is not done in the proper manner by traditional practitioners known as Ostha Maamis on female infants and children, and that therefore Muslim women need to be ‘recircumcised’ in the proper manner to ensure they adhere to this religious practice which they claim to be ‘obligatory’ or as it is often put in their posts ‘Waajib’.

I learned about the existence of two such WhatsApp groups, one called Khitaan Al Banaat which posts in English and another called Pengalukku Khatna which posts in Tamil, apparently run by the same administrators. After feigning interest in it to an informant who was very much for the practice, I was admitted to Khitaan Al Banaat and found that there were from 80-100 women at any given time. Some were leaving and others added on a continuous basis. I also realized that many of them were converts who had either been convinced that it was an Islamic obligation by ongoing propaganda or were being forced by their husbands or mothers-in-law to undergo it. Some others said their husbands wanted it done, and there were a few who posted as if they wanted it for themselves without giving reasons.

The posts by the admin frequently assured members that women’s circumcision was no big deal and not FGM and that it would not impact their sex lives in any way. One said: Sisters, spice up your sex life and please your husband!” and even quoted Prophet Muhammad saying: It (female circumcision) adds beauty to the face of the wife and is pleasing to the husband”. However, I noticed that the main driver they were exploiting was religion, stressing again and again that it was an absolutely necessary Islamic duty.

Within a week of joining, I asked for a good clinic, pretending that I was interested in the procedure. My objective, of course, was to go undercover and witness and report what was happening in these unregulated clinics which obviously did not have a license to perform surgeries. I have messaged the name of a female doctor and her mobile number.  When I called her, she answered tersely and gave me the date and time and the address of her practice which was in Central Colombo, an area that has a large concentration of Muslims. I was also asked to come with my husband in a private vehicle and also preferably to bring my mother or sister since I would not be able to walk properly after the operation and may have to be carried to the vehicle and driven home immediately. My husband was afraid that I may be forced to go through the procedure on admission, but I assured him I wouldn’t let that happen and I would walk out shortly before they called my name.

On the agreed date, my husband dropped me at the clinic and was escorted to the rear where there was a car park with several cars parked, some with tinted glass. I noticed that the so-called clinic had no name, and the name board gave only the name of the doctor and her qualifications identifying her as a Gynaecologist/Obstetrician. The woman who answered the bell quickly ushered me inside and led me to the reception where she wrote down my husband’s name and said that it would be announced once the operation was done so that he could come to pick me up through the backdoor.  She also got me to sign a consent form and told me to pay the entire cost of the procedure which was Sri Lankan Rupees 10,000. She also gave me a number which she said she would call out, initially for the anesthetic injection and later for the operation.

Taking my seat, I looked around and saw there were eight women waiting to be cut.  Two were in niqab like the receptionist and I suspected they might have been wearing it to hide their identity as this was a very delicate and private matter.  Even though this was an all-female environment, they did not take it off except for one woman and I myself regretted not wearing one in case somebody recognized me. Most looked nervous and the one next to me looked absolutely scared. I only kept my cool because I knew I was not going to go through it, but these women did not have much of a choice as they were probably being forced by their husbands or families to get it done.

I started a conversation with the one next to me whom I shall call Bilkis. She was not for it at all and said that her conservative husband was forcing her to do it. She said she was so scared of the pain she would have to go through and was cursing her mother for not doing it when she was little. She was almost in tears and one woman seated opposite who seemed quite composed came over and consoled her, saying there was nothing to worry about and if there was anything that hurt, it would only be the anesthetic injection. She quieted down.

Soon a woman entered from the room next to ours that read SURGERY, and she was sniffing and wiping off her tears.  She had obviously gone through a lot of pain as a result of the anesthetic and was now awaiting her turn to undergo a bigger ordeal of genital cutting in the torture chamber she had just returned from.  The woman next to me, Bilkis was now inconsolable and the receptionist thinking that she would make a scene passed over another patient and read out her name, calling over two assistants to take her to the surgery.  One woman came over to me and said, its good they took her now, or she might have had to be dragged in kicking and screaming.  But she herself was very calm and told me It’s no big deal. This is nothing compared to how our boys are done, nothing!”  Other names were called and they all returned to the reception area to wait their turn for the surgery. They were all tense but were consoling each other saying it’s only the injection that hurt and once the anesthetic takes effect, it would be painless. Bilkis did not return and we were told that the doctor had detained her in the surgery as she was making such a fuss after the anesthetic and that she had been given a sedative. 

The rest of the women’s names were called one after the other at intervals of about 20 minutes after which I never saw them again. They had been released to their husbands or families through the back door of the surgery obviously.  I asked the receptionist why it took such a short time to circumcise and she said there were a couple of beds with two operators at work, the main doctor whom I had spoken to and a qualified medical assistant she had trained.  She said there were some things only the main doctor attended to without any further comment.

At this juncture, I could have walked out but chose to stay and get the anesthetic so I could see what was going on inside the surgery.  I was the last one and when my name was called, I casually walked in and was asked to lie on a surgical bed.  There was another bed further away and I could see a woman, her arms pinned down by two assistants with another two of them stretching open her legs while an operator who I believe was the assistant doctor was at it. She was crying out not to cut her over and over again, but to my surprise, in a few seconds they had gently put her legs down and she quieted down. It seemed they had just finished with her and the main doctor smilingly called out to her husband who was waiting outside We just did the finishing touches on her and she’s still sore down there, so take good care of her while getting her home”.  The husband was taken aback and she explained: What I meant by finishing touches is we just finished with the stitches”.  She gave him some powdered medicine and a booklet and told him it was for aftercare. All the instructions are there in the book and if you follow it properly she will heal within three days”. I looked to see who his wife was and realized it was Bilkis.

Two female assistants came over to me and spread my legs open and seeing that I had not shaved my private area for some time, shaved it clean with a razor and some antiseptic liquid. Having wiped the area dry with a towel, they called the doctor who came over with an injection and advised me to be calm. I asked her what it was and she said it was lidocaine which she also used to circumcise boys with. She jabbed the needle in about four places, mostly over my clitoral hood and a more painful one that seemed to go deeper and hit a nerve. It was really painful and I let go a scream.  I suspected it was the clitoris that she had injected and kept calm questioned her why she had injected the clitoris since we were told it was only the hood that would be taken off in the operation.  She calmly responded saying it’s for the stitches because after the protruding part of the hood is removed, they would have to join the remaining skin with the clitoris, so that there is no skin dangling and it would look nice.

I got up to go back to the reception, telling her that would be nice. My genital area was already getting numb and I took a call to my husband to come to pick me up from the front door. The receptionist was shocked and said, You can’t do that”. I told her Why not, I can choose for myself, and I have already paid for it, so what’s the problem?”. As she went into the surgery to get the doctor I walked out of the door, got into the car and drove away.

On the road I could not help but think of those unfortunate women I saw back there and countless others brainwashed or forced to undergo genital cutting.  I also wondered how much money these clinics might be earning from all this suffering in the name of religion.

4 Responses to “Circumcision of Women is Big Business”

  1. dingiri bandara Says:

    This is question to all those who advocate circumcision of Muslim women! Why did Allah create women with these body parts if they were meant to be removed surgically? Allah could have created them without these body parts.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    Good lesson for stupid Sinhala women who marry Muslims. One day they will face this.

    Don’t expect any political clan to ban it. They fully support this and other barbaric medieval middle eastern practices.

    A religion associated with needless bloodshed.

    She should not have gone in for the injection. Such barbarity!

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Barbarity indeed!

    All such barbarity practiced against citizens much be punished under the law, irrespective of race, religion, sex, caste or wealth!

    There is NO WAY such PURE EVIL can be allowed to EXIST in Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka!

  4. Dilrook Says:

    But barbarity exists in Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka everywhere!

    Now after 67 years later Muslim women come out openly against Qathi councils. This barbaric Thalaq practice is still there for 67 years. Muslim girls (18 is the official age of adulthood) are married. Their genitals are cut off. Some have even been killed. Nothing happens. Sinhala Buddhist politicians love these things as they don’t oppose them.

    Caste discrimination is back in business in the north since 2009. Who can go against it?

    This is the reality. And it will only get worse as no political clan wants to interfere with these things. You may remember the ‘halal’ fraud and the Kuragala fraud. Sinhalese (including me) were fooled.

    Some extreme Sinhala elements have a big problem with Muslim women (“war of the womb”) producing so many children and wearing funny dresses but it they refuse they are easily divorced, abused and even killed. What choice do they have! The problem is elsewhere.

    Hopefully Sinhala men will have the courage of Muslim women to challenge their leaders and demand change.

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