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Volume 2: Issue 1 - Learn about Sahiyo's anti-fgc work in our newsletters

Sahiyo Newsletter 


United Against Female Genital Cutting

Sahiyo and 31 organisations petition the UN to invest more towards FGC in Asia

On January 2, Sahiyo, along with a coalition of 31 civil society organisations from around the world, launched an online petition urging the United Nations to invest more towards research and support to end Female Genital Cutting in Asia. Why this petition?

According to the U.N, at least 200 million women in 30 countries have been subjected to FGC. However, these statistics are largely restricted to sub-Saharan Africa, leaving out a large number of women from other countries – particularly in Asia – where FGC has been reported.

FGM/C is known to occur in India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Maldives, Brunei, Russia (Dagestan), Bangladesh, and Iran. Yet, Asian countries fall outside the scope of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme to Accelerate the Abandonment of FGM/C.  As a result, almost no resources have been invested to collect data and provide support services to women and girls who are affected by this violation of their human rights in these countries. How can the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ending FGC by 2030 be met, if no resources are devoted to understanding the nature and prevalence of FGC amongst Asian communities?

This was the reason why Sahiyo formed a coalition of 31 organisations, from India, USA, UK, Pakistan, and Singapore, to petition the UN to take FGC in Asia more seriously. This Change.org petition calls upon the global community, particularly the United Nations, international foundations and donor countries/agencies, to put in more funding, support, and resources towards research, data collection, advocacy and survivor-centred support facilities in the above-mentioned Asian countries. The petition already has close to 400 supporters.

To read and sign the petition, click here. To read more about why Sahiyo launched the petition, click here.  


In Germany, Sahiyo participates in kick-off event for Women’s March

On January 20th, the Modern Abolitionist Global Campaign will start a two-day campaign, with a kick -off event that will be a screening of movies dealing with gender violence and discrimination against women. The following day, on January 21st, the Modern Abolitionist Global Campaign will hold the Frankfurt Women’s March on Washington.

Sahiyo will support the kick-off event, in which there will be a screening of A Pinch of Skin, a documentary produced by Sahiyo’s co-founder Priya Goswami, on the topic of female genital cutting in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

During the event, Sahiyo co-founders will be joining via Skype for a Q&A session with audience members. The documentary, Girl Rising, about the importance of educating girls to break the cycle of poverty will also be screened. To learn more, contact the organizers here.  


Sahiyo co-founders featured in Jaipur Women’s Blog


In December and January, three of Sahiyo’s co-founders were interviewed and featured in Jaipur Women’s Blog, a feminist publication from Rajasthan, India. The blog regularly publishes stories on women’s empowerment in various fields. Its reporters interviewed Sahiyo members Mariya, Insia and Aarefa not just about their efforts to end Female Genital Cutting, but also about their work in other spheres.

In her interview, Mariya spoke about her experience of being subjected to Khatna as a child and her current involvement with the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association, which is working on passing legislation to criminalise FGC in the state. Mariya also spoke of her work with survivors of domestic violence and the challenges in addressing domestic violence among Asian diaspora communities in the United States. Read her interview here.

Insia spoke about her work as a filmmaker and how her own experience of child sexual abuse led her to make award-winning films on the subjects of CSA, rape and the cycle of violence. As the founder of The Hands of Hope Foundation, Insia spoke about the workshops she conducts in schools to raise awareness about CSA, and as the co-founder of Sahiyo, she spoke about the challenges in reaching out to Bohras and saving girls from the cut. Read her interview here.

Aarefa, meanwhile, spoke about how her experience of Khatna first led to confrontations with her mother and eventually to a decision to work more publicly to end the practice. She spoke about FGC as a patriarchal practice and the role of men and the media in helping to eliminate it. Read her interview here.


 

Speak Out on FGM's petition to U.N. gathers steam


On the eve of December 10, 2016, which marked an end to the global 16 Days of Activism campaign to end violence against women and girls, Speak Out On FGM - a collective of FGM/C survivors from the Bohra community - launched a signature petition on Change.org 

The petition, signed by more than 30 women involved in the campaign to end FGM/C in the Bohra community, seeks to build stronger UN recognition that will not only bring more awareness to the practice in the country, but also enable Bohra women and men to make official appeals to the Indian government to introduce larger policy-level changes in the country. 

According to Speak Out on FGM, wider recognition at the global level will hopefully speed up the process of instituting government and international mechanisms to highlight and promote measures to eradicate FGM/C in India.

To see the petition, click here

To read more on the petition, click here

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A letter on khatna by a young Bohra man


No movement against patriarchy can be successful if women are the only ones pushing for change. Similarly, efforts to abandon patriarchal social norms - like the practice of khatna or female genital cutting - cannot succeed if men are not as much a part of the change. A few years ago, when Dawoodi Bohra women began speaking out more openly about the need to end khatna, most men in the community did not even know the practice was prevalent in their own families. Today, men are not only more aware, but are also speaking out along with women, and choosing not to have their own daughters cut. In this excerpt, a 28-year-old Bohra man, talks about his journey from ignorance to learning, and the sadness triggered by what he learnt:

“Women who have gone through FGM have started talking about their experiences. Openly speaking about this issue has done great good for the community as it has helped build awareness and made folks like me, who were ignorant about it, read and learn more about it....Listening to these experiences makes me really sad. Sad because this has been going on since so long and this practice has absolutely no foundation. It makes me sad that educated people never questioned it and were so socially engrossed that they just did what they were told to do. It makes me sad because it just proves how sexist the world is (which I do not want to believe).”

To read the the full story, click here.

If you would like to share your own story involving khatna or female genital cutting, send us an e-mail at info@sahiyo.com. Stories can be shared via our Sahiyo newsletter and blog anonymously or publicly.


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Copyright © 2017 Sahiyo, All rights reserved. Sahiyo's mission is to empower Dawoodi Bohra and other Asian communities to end female genital cutting and create positive social change through dialogue, education and collaboration based on community involvement. You signed up for our newsletter to receive more information on our organization's activities in this endeavor.
 
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