Mariya Karimjee, who grew up in the same religious community as this Mariya, told This American Life last year that she too was cut in someone's living room. Unlike our source, she bled profusely for days afterward, suppressed the memory for many years, and remains unable to have anything approaching a normal sex life.
And as our source, Mariya Taher, points out, at the time, FGM wasn't actually a crime: "There was no federal law in place. That law passed in 1996, so by the time I carried out my thesis, there was."
It's Mostly Women Perpetuating Female Genital Mutilation
The Quran makes no mention of female genital mutilation. Neither does the Bible or the Torah. Yet Muslims, Christians, and Jews around the world still do it. W-why?
"I found that there were so many different reasons for why it was carried out, from hygiene to sexual control -- I've actually heard justifications that it is done to decrease your sexuality as well as increase your sexuality, or that you have to undergo it because it is an identity marker in a way ..."
It's not a rural problem, or even an issue of ignorance. Of the 385 women Mariya interviewed, 80 percent had experienced FGM firsthand, and more than half were college-educated. "It's a practice that you can't just say is being continued by an ignorant group of people. Particularly the Dawoodi Bohra group in which I was raised in. They pride themselves on education for women, so they're a very highly educated population. But this fact also shows you how powerful the idea of tradition is ... My mom, when I talked to her about it, really I believe carried it out because it was tradition. It was something that other women had done to girls in their families, so you have to continue it because it was supposed to be for the good of the girl. Really, my mom didn't think to question it, because you don't question the traditions ... I think men not knowing about it is changing now, because there's so much media attention, but previously that was very common too -- men did not know anything about it, and that's why my relatives ... my own father didn't know about it, and he had four younger sisters."
VladimirFLoyd/iStockThough in fairness, not knowing all the details of your little sister's vagina is usually a good setup.
And yet everyone and her sister was having it done, so it became common, "kind of like getting your period," Mariya says. "You saw other people coming out okay after their procedure."