Volume 1: Issue 11 - Learn about Sahiyo's anti-fgc work in our newsletters

Sahiyo Newsletter 

United Against Female Genital Cutting

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation Hosts Annual 5K Walk to End FGM in D.C.

On October 15, 2016, Sahiyo’s Mariya Taher joined Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation’s 5K Walk to end FGM in Washington D.C. The 5K Walk attracted around 100 people and participants were made up activists, NGOs, survivors, community members, volunteers, government officials, and foundations from around the world. The event began at noon at the National Sylvan Theater on the Washington National Mall. Prior to participants beginning the walk, a program was held in which several speeches were given by distinguished guest working in the field. Speakers included:

Ms. Susan Masling/ Department of Justice (Keynote Speaker)

Ms. Sando Sherman-Adetunji/ FGM Survivor shares her story and work

Ms. Teri Gabrielsen/ Africa Schools of Kenya

Ms. Sayydah Garrett/ Pastoralist Child Foundation

Aisha Kamara/ FGM Survivor shares her story

For more information on the walk and Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, please visit their foundation at

To read a Sahiyo Survivor story that Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation highlighted on their website, click here.

Sahiyo conducts an FGC awareness session with community workers in Mumbai

On October 6, Sahiyo co-founders Aarefa Johari and Insia Dariwala were invited to conduct a talk on Female Genital Cutting at the Justice and Peace Commission in Mumbai. This Commission is one of many organisations run by the Catholic Church in Mumbai to work with local communities across religious lines. The talk on October 6 was attended by women (and a few men) from various community centres around the city. All the attendees were grassroots social activists, working in their respective communities on a range of issues, particularly women and children's rights.

The participants were not Bohras, but were familiar with the community and know many members in their neighbourhoods. In their session, Insia and Aarefa introduced the concept of FGC, the reasons behind it and how it is a social norm. Participants were then asked to discuss various social norms in their own cultures and how they could possibly be combatted. This led to a lively discussion on a range of issues. Predictably, several women spoke about menstrual taboos and one participant shared a heartening story of how her young daughter changed the norm in their home by refusing to follow her grandmother's menstrual restrictions. The men also spoke of the pressures to be 'masculine' as a social norm. After the talk, several participants expressed an interest in discussing FGC with their own Bohra friends.

Read the full report on the talk here.

Sahiyo's poster for World Mental Health Day

On October 10, non-profit platform Feminism in India marked World Mental Health Day by calling on all interested organisations to submit posters on the theme of #SupportNotStigma. The result was a collection of 23 crowd-sourced posters raising awareness about mental health through positive visuals promoting support instead of stigma.

Sahiyo contributed a poster designed by co-founder Shaheeda Tavawala, featuring the words of an anonymous FGC-survivor whose poignant story was published on our blog earlier this year:

To see all the 23 posters, click here.

Two Twitter workshops in Mumbai

Social media has been an important medium of communication for Sahiyo in the past year, helping us engage with a section of the community that is Internet-savvy. In October, Sahiyo co-founders in Mumbai had the opportunity to attend two different workshops by Twitter India on the effective use of the platform by NGOs.

The first workshop was organised in association with Safe City and the US Consulate, while the second was organised in collaboration with Point of View, Fem Positive and She the People TV. Both workshops proved to be extremely useful, with discussions on strategies to maximise outreach through social media, using language best suited to the medium, designing effective online campaigns, and more.

Volunteer spotlight: Chandni Shiyal

Sahiyo is an organization with the mission to empower Asian communities to end female genital cutting through community collaboration, and this work could not be done without dedicated volunteers supporting us. To show our appreciation, we would like to spotlight those volunteers who have made invaluable contributions to this organisation.

Chandni Shiyal, a Ph.D. scholar in Mumbai, has been involved with Sahiyo almost from its inception, as a committed field worker reaching out to Bohra women at the grassroots level. Read an excerpt of her interview below and for the full interview, click here.

1) When did you first get involved with Sahiyo?

I first got involved with the organisation when Sahiyo was established. My involvement began when I came in contact with one of Sahiyo’s co-founders Aarefa Johari after I started pursuing my Ph.D. research focusing exclusively on FGC in India and Africa.




Survivor Story: ‘My mom regrets that she allowed khatna to be performed on me’

Female circumcision is a social norm in communities like the Bohras, and members often practice this norm without questioning. Sometimes, those who may be tempted to question the need for genital cutting are silenced by the pressure they face from elders in the family. But the one thing constant in human life is change, and the most heart-warming stories of Bohra khatna are often those that reflect a change in mindset with respect to the practice. This anonymous Bohra woman from the USA, for instance, was circumcised because her grandparents pressured her mother. But today, her mother is a changed woman. Here is an excerpt of her story:

“It took me years to unlearn this internalised oppression and find a way to practice Islam in a way that allows me to feel empowered by my sexuality instead of ashamed of it. I am also grateful that my parents are part of this journey with me and are speaking out against the practice of khatna. I know my mom especially regrets that she caved to the pressure from her parents and allowed khatna to be performed on me. I wish I could take that burden of guilt away from her.”

Read the whole story here and watch our blog for more personal narratives, in-depth articles and much more.

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

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Copyright © 2016 Sahiyo, All rights reserved. Sahiyo's mission is to empower 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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