Sahiyo began more than a year ago as a conversation between five women who felt strongly about the ritual of female genital cutting (khatna) in the Dawoodi Bohra community. Our group includes a social worker, a researcher, two filmmakers, and a journalist, and all of us had already been speaking out, in our own ways, againt the practice of khatna. As our collaboration grew, we realized the need for an organized, informed forum within the community that could help drive a movement to bring an end to khatna. That is how Sahiyo, the organization, was born. To learn more about the founders, click here.
Sahiyo is dedicated to empowering Dawoodi Bohra and other Asian communities to end female genital cutting (FGC) and create positive social change. By working towards an FGC-free world, we aim to recognize and emphasize the values of consent and a child's/woman's right over her own body. We aim to enable a culture in which female sexuality is not feared or suppressed, but embraced as normal.
Sahiyo is the Bohra Gujarati word for 'saheliyo', or friends, and reflects our organization's mission to engage in dialogue with the community to find a collective solution towards ending the practice of khatna.
To connect with Sahiyo, take a look at our blog, follow us Facebook or Twitter, or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Australia, three Bohras found guilty for circumcising daughters
This November, for the first time in the history of the Dawoodi Bohra community, three of its members in Australia were held guilty for carrying out Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on two minor girls. FGM has been a criminal offence in Australia since 1997, with a maximum punishment of seven years in prison.
In this much-publicised case, the Supreme Court of New South Wales found Sheikh Shabbir Vaziri, a retired nurse, and the mother of the two girls guilty of performing “khatna” on the sisters in Sydney, somewhere between 2010 and 2012, when the girls were 6 and 7 years old. The police found out about the genital cutting through an anonymoustip-off, and finally arrested the mother, nurse and Sheikh in 2012. The three accused had been out on bail throughout the trial.
During the trial, the defence lawyers representing the accused argued that what Bohras practice as “khatna” involves a ritualisticcutting of a thin layer of skin from the clitoris, and does constitute “mutilation”. The Supreme Court’s guilty verdict, pronounced on November 12, 2015, came as an affirmation that even Bohra “khatna” is a form of Female Genital Mutilation, no matter how small the cut.
The quantum of punishment in the Australia case will be decided in February. You can read more about this case here.
Documentary A Pinch of Skin highlights FGC in India
A Pinch of Skin, a short documentary made in 2012, depicts the practice of Female Genital Cutting, also known as khatna or sunnat by the Dawoodi Bohras in India. Screened worldwide, the film received the prestigious National Award of India for being the first documentary to highlight the taboo practice of khatna.
The film brings together personal narratives on the experience of undergoing the blade, juxtaposing both the people who support the practice as well as a small but significant voice of questioning dissent.
Watch the film's trailer here and follow the Facebook page for updates on the film and stories on FGC from around the globe.
A Good Mother by Priya Goswami
'The Good Mother' is a personal narrative by filmmaker Priya Goswami about her experience of filming 'A Pinch of Skin'. The documentary explores and 'frames' the idea of a 'Good Mother' as one who takes her daughter through the 'ritual' - a ritual that the film's protagonist thought to be in the best interests of the child, but which the filmmaker felt was a violation.
They said, "to be a good mother, you must take your daughter through the ritual." The said it with conviction and sincere eyes;but I found myself flinching. Flinching, because the belief that had carried me to different cities and this stranger's drawing room was at loggerheads with her ideas. Yet, as I ate her biscuits and drank her tea, I saw myself noticing those believing eyes with which she was opening up to a complete stranger, me.
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 email@example.com. Stories can be shared via our Sahiyo newsletter and blog anonymously or publicly.
First Online Study on Khatna Being Conducted
In 2015, Sahiyo embarked on a mission to better understand the extent, purpose, and impact of the practice of khatna within the Dawoodi Bohras. Acknowledging that this practice is a very personal and sensitive topic within the community, and that almost no one speaks about it, Sahiyo went about gathering data in a culturally sensitive manner, and allowed for survey respondents to answer questions about khatna anonymously.
The data is being gathered in 3-month installments. It began on July 25, 2015, and will conclude on January 25, 2016. The sole intention of this research is to shed light on misunderstandings and lack of information surrounding this age-old practice, which is not often talked about in social circles. It is not the intention of the researchers to discredit or malign any particularly community, especially the Dawoodi Bohras.
If you would like to learn more about the study or participate in filling out the survey, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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