Volume 1: Issue 12 - Learn about Sahiyo's anti-fgc work in our newsletters

Sahiyo Newsletter 

United Against Female Genital Cutting

Sahiyo participates in the first ever US Summit on FGM/C

Sahiyo's Mariya Taher and Insia Dariwala participated in the End Violence Against Girls: Summit on FGM/C in Washington, DC on December 2, at the U.S. Institute of Peace. The day-long conference was an opportunity to bring together over 200 expert educators, medical providers, law enforcement officials, religious leaders, NGOs, activists, government officials, and others thought leaders from across 20 countries to discuss what best practices and interventions are needed to end this human rights violation worldwide by the year 2030. The summit sought to advance a comprehensive multi-sectoral approach to ending FGC and providing services to those affected.

Prior to the Summit Day, several side events took place, including a photo exhibit by psychotherapist and FGC campaigner Leyla Hussein and photographer Jason Ashwood celebrating American FGC survivors as beautiful and confident women; a meeting between law enforcement, child protection professionals, and NGOs to discuss coordinated efforts to tackle FGC in the US; and a meet for global activists to share insights and collaborate.

The conference was organized by Equality Now, Safe Hands for Girls, and the US End FGM/C Network with support from Wallace Global Fund and Human Dignity Foundation. Sahiyo’s Cofounder Mariya Taher was chair of the Community Leader Working Group for the Summit’s planning committee.

To read Sahiyo’s full report on the Summit, click here.

A new video and a Twitter chat on Type 1 In Asia

Sahiyo is extremely proud to share ‘A Small Nick or Cut, they say’ – a short video produced by Love Matters India and written and directed by our very own Sahiyo co-founder Priya Goswami. The film features Dawoodi Bohra women and men speaking, boldly and earnestly, about the need to end Khatna, or Type I Female Genital Cutting, which is prevalent in a number of Asian communities, but has often been overlooked.

The video is an attempt to give voice to the multitude of experiences associated with Type I FGC. It is also an attempt to acknowledge the complexities and limitations of language – the dilemma of labeling people as “victims” or “survivors”.

The women and men featured in the video include, among others, Sahiyo’s co-founders and a father-daughter duo – Abbas and Saleha Paatwala – who want a better future for the next generation of Dawoodi Bohras. Watch the video here.

As a follow up to the video, Sahiyo and Love Matters also hosted a Twitter chat on December 7, on the topic of Type I FGC. The chat used the hashtag #NoMoreKhatna, and saw very animated participation by a number of organisations and individuals. The chat raised questions such as what is Type I FGC, what are its health consequences, why it has been neglected in favour of more severe types. Much like Sahiyo’s first Twitter chat in July, several Dawoodi Bohra participants joined Twitter and made new accounts for the purpose of this chat on FGC. Even though most of those who created new Twitter account for the chat khatna supporters, their participation indicates an important step forward in dialogue regarding this harmful practice.


Sahiyo’s campaigns for 16 Days of Activism

From November 25 to December 10, the UN dedicates 16 days to the cause of raising awareness and funds to fight gender-based violence, and this year, Sahiyo participated in its first 16 Days of Activism.

The 16-day campaign kicked off on November 25 with a screening of ‘A Pinch of Skin’ - an award-winning documentary film on FGC among Dawoodi Bohras - at the SNDT Matunga College in Mumbai. The 2012 film, directed by Sahiyo co-founder Priya Goswami, was screened as part of the two-day Sama-bhav film festival organised by Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA). Co-founders Aarefa Johari and Shaheeda Kirtane were invited to interact with the audience and after the screening, and the discussion that ensued was short, but lively.  

In keeping with the theme of “Orange the world”, Sahiyo designed an orange “Stop Female Genital Cutting” badge that was distributed as a pin at the US Summit in Washington DC, as well as at the film screening in Mumbai. The badge was also available on Sahiyo’s website for people to pin to their social media, to show their solidarity and support of the cause.

As story-sharing is a major component of Sahiyo’s work, we highlighted 16 survivor stories - one each day - during the 16 Days of Activism. Nearly half of them were new stories by women and men who opened up about khatna for the first time, while others were re-published versions of powerful personal stories published earlier this year. All 16 stories can be read here.

What Dawoodi Bohras can learn from Population Council’s new report on FGC

This August, the Population Council and UK Aid published a unique, comprehensive report on Female Genital Cutting around the world, to serve as a resource for anyone working to end the practice. Titled ‘A State-of-the-Art Synthesis on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting – What do we know now’, the report provides a zoomed-out analysis of recent available data on FGC from 29 countries that have national data on the subject. Although India does not feature in this list, the report offers plenty of food for thought for those of us in South Asia in general and the Dawoodi Bohra community in particular.

In a blog post in October, Sahiyo co-founder Aarefa Johari analysed the insights that Bohras can draw from the report. For one, FGC among Dawoodi Bohras is becoming increasingly medicalised because of a number of “cases gone wrong” in the past, and we need to ensure that medicalisation does not become the new norm.

Secondly, like in other FGC-practicing countries, Dawoodi Bohras have given multiple reasons for performing the cut - reasons that often contradict with the justification given for khatna in Dawoodi Bohra religious texts. Books, ultimately, do not necessarily determine the lived practices in a culture.

To read the full blog post, click here.




Survivor Story: Of tattoos, female circumcision and hypocrisy

Not everyone is scarred by their experience of being cut, but many different reasons exist as to why women from FGC-practicing communities want the ritual to end. For 21-year-old Azra Adenwala, who shared her personal story for Sahiyo’s 16 Days of Activism storytelling campaign, her reason for wanting FGC to end relates to the sense of betrayal and hypocrisy she associates with her experience of undergoing khatna. Here is an excerpt from her article:

"I remember, three years back, when I got my first tattoo. When one of my extended family members saw this tattoo on my body, they told me, “You are a Muslim, and our religion dictates that your body must be returned to its grave exactly how it came out from the mother’s womb”. In other words, we must not make any alterations to our body and accept it as it has been given to us by god. If this is the case, then why were my genitals mutilated? What sort of hypocrisy is this?"

Read the entire 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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