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'Two aunts held me by the arms and legs': the story of a woman who underwent circumcision



Not so long ago, the muftiate of Dagestan announced a ban on female circumcision, allowing only the cutting off of the “extra” skin around the clitoris. The story of a woman who was abused is published by

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Recently, the muftiate of Dagestan spoke out about a ban on the so-called female circumcision - female genital mutilation with the cutting off of part of the clitoris and labia minora. At the same time, the muftiate indicated that women are allowed to remove "excess" skin around the clitoris.

This statement split the expert community: some considered such a statement a victory - a couple of years ago, human rights activists could not hope for the help of the muftiate in the fight against wild customs, others - that this is an attempt by religious leaders to sit on two chairs, since this is an incomplete ban on violent practices.

In addition, for some peoples, such as Ingushetia, who also practice female circumcision, the spiritual administration of Muslims of Dagestan will not become an authority, and most men in areas where this practice is still supported by this custom.

Maria (name changed)

I experienced this procedure thirty years ago. I remember that older girls talked about her in the village and on the street where we played, some even with bravado. Something like: "They did it for me, they did it for my sisters and cousins, but if you don't do it, you won't be able to become a woman and a Muslim." I remember that the girls, my neighbors, whispered about scissors, and they said about me that they hadn't done it yet.

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What is wrong with them now, and whether all the girls in the village are doing this operation, I do not know. I do not communicate with my relatives. But while I was living there, I heard who they did it to, and discussed among themselves, to whom they cut off how much. There was no exact standard. Perhaps because the women performing this procedure are elderly and partially blind.

"Two aunts held me by the hands and feet"

No operating room, of course. Home conditions, some kind of dressing room, so that nothing gets dirty, if the blood - no disinfection, gloves, alcohol or sterile instruments. Simple household scissors. No pain reliever or anesthesia. There is no dressing. The body heals as best it can. But I have not heard that someone died from this. Perhaps there were complications, but in conversations they were not associated with the cause. Our girls were circumcised at preschool age.

She was a tall woman, I don't remember her face, I remember the silhouette that blocked my light against the background of the open door. Black scarf and large palms. Two more aunts held me by the arms and legs and pressed me from above so that I would not rise. They made me undress. I was deeply ashamed.

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And then a sharp pain. I don't remember if I screamed, but for some reason I wanted to hide, although I was no longer held. It seemed to me that the blood would stop, and everything would go away as it was before. It was very hot, so much that I could not speak for several days. But there were no particular complications.

"I didn't think that something needs to be restored"

Nothing passed. They cut off part of the head of my clitoris. But I found out later. Perhaps this later became the reason for the divorce. An intimate relationship with my husband did not interest me. My husband, however, did not notice that from the point of view of physiology, something was wrong with me. And I never once thought that I needed to restore something. Although I read about surgical gynecology of the pelvic floor and intimate plastic. This is a whole architecture, it turns out.

Screenshot: Bad Planet Documentaries / YouTube

In a purely feminine way, I will say: I have cool feelings for this side of the relationship. I even went to a psychologist - it did not help. Honestly, I was afraid to talk about it frankly, even with a specialist.

Everything that concerns the intimate, since childhood, we spoke in a whisper between our girlfriends, as indecent. It is very difficult for me even now. As a result, the psychologist and I did not get to discuss this part of my life, even when I went to therapy consciously, as an adult and to an expensive specialist. In the end, I never worked it out. Maybe another specialist is needed.

"Father's relatives take the girl for a weekend visit, and return without a clitoris"

I do not know which of my relatives made the decision about this action on me. Perhaps no one in particular, but simply decided that the time had come and it was necessary to go to school. I didn’t talk about it with my mother either. Shy. Somewhere deep in me it sits that this is a closed topic, this is something that is not discussed. Mothers are not asked.

In another village of my own ethnicity, I heard a woman say: "It's good that I gave birth to a boy, if there were a girl, she would be circumcised." The mother may not know what they are going to do with the daughter. For example, her father's relatives take her away for a weekend, and return her without a clitoris. But many women consider it a necessity and even a duty.

Screenshot: Bad Planet Documentaries / YouTube

In another case, a woman from Chechnya was forced to undergo circumcision as an adult, because she fell in love with our highlander, and this is how we do it. Probably, an adult is not so scared. It was said that she had received a small wound, and it was in the hospital, and not somewhere in a barn. He agreed to marry only after the bride had been circumcised.

Screenshot: Bad Planet Documentaries / YouTub

"Circumcision is denied even by knowledgeable people, elders."

It amazes me when even knowledgeable people, elders, deny this problem, they say that we do not have this in Islam, here, read the hadith. Others admit that there is, but say that this does not harm the woman in any way: after all, she can give birth!

I guess I'm still lucky. I saw a photo of what happens when a girl gets cut off. And how to give birth at the same time, if everything is sewn up from an early age, for me, it is simply impossible. A friend of mine was circumcised as an adult. She believes that this is according to the Sunnah. The hood of her clitoris was cut to reveal it. She assured me that this is a very good and correct procedure.

Screenshot: Bad Planet Documentaries / YouTube

Many, even in Dagestan, do not really know that we have this. And those who know, for the most part, are silent, consider it an invariable tradition from time immemorial, but undiscussed - a taboo. People are blinkered.

Will this fatwa help here? I dont know. And how to assess - there are no complaints about the crippled organs. In Irina Shikhman's film, the theologian said that female circumcision is according to Islam. And the current fatwa has very mildly stated that it seems possible to do if there is a need. And who denotes this need for the child? This is clearly not enough. I think the muftis were pressured not to completely ban these operations. We must not stop there, continue to fight for the complete abolition of this practice. The main thing is not to deny the fact that it exists.

"There was a big psychological trauma"

For this, the executors and initiators of this operation must be punished. The consequences for girls are horror. Perhaps, from birth, I am insensitive in the intimate sphere, or perhaps this operation has deprived me of my sexual pleasure - now I do not recognize it.

How competent was that healer who cut me? How did she know what to cut? And if the girl twitches? After all, there is no anesthesia. They can cut off what they did not plan. The ban will take a very long time to reach these villages, if you do not judge for this. Traditionalists in villages cover everything with Islam, not even tradition.

Screenshot: Bad Planet Documentaries / YouTube

Now I am talking about this because I found out that one very famous girl in the Caucasus also went through this. We felt a strong empathy for each other and felt that we were not alone. We became friends, talked to her and came to the conclusion that, although it is difficult, we need to share our experiences in order to protect girls and so that in our society they stop saying that the problem of female circumcision does not exist. Of course, there is still a great psychological trauma.

Gynecologist-obstetrician Anna (name has been changed at her request):

I have repeatedly delivered to women who have undergone infibulation (a type of circumcision in which the head of the clitoris and the labia minora are cut off and the remaining tissue is sutured, leaving only a narrow entrance to the vagina). Their entire anatomy is crippled, the vagina is inelastic. This is a completely different structure of the vulvar ring.

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The diameter of the child's head is on average ten centimeters. It must pass, during childbirth the tissues are stretched. But for women with this type of circumcision, a hole of three centimeters remains, around there are scars and flesh that has lost its elasticity. In the scar, normal tissue is replaced by fibrous tissue that is strong, but practically unable to stretch. And the crotch during childbirth simply has to stretch.

This damage prevents childbirth from proceeding naturally. You have to make a big incision to get the baby out. In addition, the period of perspiration is lengthened, which can be dangerous for the child.

The patients themselves often cannot even explain what exactly they had to endure. After childbirth, the suture has to be restored. It looks very unnatural. After stitching up such a patient, the surgeon once said to me: “I have never seen such a thing! I sew and I don't understand - the seam leads to a small hole, very strange and unnatural. " Then everything must be sewn up, as it was, otherwise bleeding is inevitable. The gynecologist sews along the incision, on the healed tissue. After all, girls are cut by unformed organs. This can cause pain during menstruation and when urinating, during intercourse. Recovery may require more than one surgery by a surgeon specializing in pelvic floor gynecology with the assistance of a plastic surgeon.

Mikhail Savva, human rights activist, doctor of political sciences, chairman of the board of the SOVA expert group, Caucasian expert:

The department of fatwas of the Dagestan muftiat is trying to find a solution to an extremely complex problem and maneuvers between the two poles. The sunnah does indeed mention female circumcision. And this is the basis for radical supporters of mutilation and those who are trying to turn this ugly custom into a religious tradition. But female circumcision is not in the Qur'an. It is mentioned only in the Sunnah.

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It says about him like this: the Prophet Muhammad, talking with one woman, found out that she was doing such circumcisions, and advised her not to remove unnecessary things. It was on the basis of this interpretation that the fatwa department stated that female circumcision is not the removal of the clitoris.

But such an interpretation in any case makes it possible to continue this crippling practice. Here we can recall the example of Egypt, where since 1997 female circumcision has been legally prohibited, but a reservation has been made for medical reasons. It is not clear what medical indications may be in this case? This is an incredible situation, there is simply no such evidence. Nevertheless, this clause is still used in Egypt by supporters of circumcision. No wonder the Egyptian authorities were recently forced to toughen the responsibility for this crime.

On such extremely sensitive issues, there are no reliable results of mass research, because people in these cases provide approved answers. Out loud they will say that they are against, but in fact they are still for. Therefore, it is expert research that can provide more reliable results.

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