Girls as young as 3 undergoing genital mutilation in Russia’s Dagestan

Despite being condemned by the UN and many countries across the world, female genital mutilation is common in remote villages of Russia’s Republic of Dagestan, where girls as young as three are subjected to the practice, often in unsanitary conditions.

Speaking exclusively to RT, one woman in the region said the practice is considered obligatory for females in her community, adding that she sees no problem with it.

“According to Islam, it’s necessary to cut. If the girl hasn’t been cut, she can’t be considered a Muslim,” the woman said, adding that “because it’s tradition, we have to do it.”

Local gynecologist Hadijat Ajubova also sees nothing wrong with the procedure, saying it “doesn’t harm women’s health.”

“None of the organs or any part of any organ is removed. I’ve never heard of any young woman complaining that her sensitivity has changed,” she said.

Journalist and investigator Marina Ahmedova, who works closely with human rights activists in Dagestan, told RT that she was told the practice “is done so women do not cheat, to deprive them of sexual desires, and to stop them [from] having sex before marriage.”

“If a woman is 18 and can make her own decisions about her body, that’s her business. But when this procedure is performed on little girls who cannot make such decisions and who are completely dependent on their parents, it is in my opinion a crime...” Ahmedova said.

She went on to share accounts of adult women who had their genitals cut as children with devices used to cut lamb’s wool.

In response to reports on the scale of the problem, Russian lawmakers have proposed a bill making female genital cutting a criminal offense, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison for those found performing the operation.