Volume 1: Issue 8 - Learn about Sahiyo's anti-fgc work in our newsletters

Sahiyo Newsletter 

United Against Female Genital Cutting

Sahiyo receives ‘Daughter of Maharashtra’ award from Nari Samata Manch

On July 23, 2016, Sahiyo was felicitated with the very prestigious ‘Daughter of Maharashtra’ award for our continuous efforts in addressing FGM/C in India. Sahiyo co-founder Insia Dariwala, who received the award on behalf of Sahiyo at the ceremony in Pune, shares her experience here:

The award, a brainchild of Nari Samata Manch, was given away by celebrated filmmaker Nagraj Manjule, of ‘Sairat’ fame. The ‘Daughter of Maharashtra’ award originated as a documented project through a book, and then went on to felicitate real life heroes, with not just a memento, but also a cash prize of Rs 10,000.

The venue at ILS Law College was teeming with women from different walks of life, and rightly so, since the other recipient of this award was Chhaya Tamchekar, a brave woman who left a deep impact on me.

Chhaya was awarded for her bravery in challenging the archaic laws of the ‘Jaat Panchayats’ (caste courts) in her village.  Widowed at a very young age, Chhaya was declared a “characterless” woman, so that her property could be usurped by her in-laws. The Panchayat had ruled that Chhaya would have to take a test to prove her chastity, which involved walking naked in the village, with hot flour balls being thrown at her. Instead, she refused and fled the village with her two kids, took her case to the media and police, and finally with the help of an organisation fighting against superstitions, she was able to shut down 17 such kangaroo courts, and get justice for her and her children.

Today, Sahiyo is proud to be counted amongst those women, and we are grateful to an organisation like Nari Samta Manch, that recognises and applauds such efforts.

Read more on Insia's experience here.

Sahiyo hosted its first #NoMoreKhatna Twitter chat
to debate the need for FGC

On July 7, 2016, we at Sahiyo hosted our first Twitter chat on Female Genital Cutting (FGC) from our Twitter handle, @sahiyo2016.

The need for an online debate on this subject evolved for various reasons. For the past several months, Dawoodi Bohras on social media have been increasingly vocal about their varied views on female khatna. Then in May, a 17-year-old girl died in Egypt because of excessive bleeding caused by circumcision. Finally, the controversy over khatna intensified in June, when prestigious news magazine The Economist published a shocking, irresponsible editorial advocating for the allowance of milder, medicalised forms of FGC.

Bohras, who predominantly practice Type 1 FGC – removal of the clitoral hood – were clearly divided on this issue and the time seemed ripe to have a debate on khatna on a platform as public and democratic as Twitter.

We began the chat with a set of basic questions: What is FGC? What are its types? What have you experienced or heard about Bohra khatna? What are the health consequences of FGC? We asked participants about the reasons given for the practice of FGC, discussed consent and whether the practice should be medicalised.

The response was overwhelming for us, particularly because people with differing points of view made an effort to participate. The chat helped us understand the challenges that lie ahead for all the women and men working to bring an end to khatna: even though any form of female genital cutting is non-consensual and a violation of a child’s universal human rights, the practice is steeped in faith and religion and there is a danger of khatna becoming medicalised in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

To read highlights of the #NoMoreKhatna Twitter chat, click here.

Tostan’s Training Center: Two Sahiyo founders share their Senegal experience

From July 12 to July 21st, Shaheeda and Mariya attended Tostan’s Training Center (TTC) in Senegal. The TTC is an international training course designed to teach participants about its human rights-based approach to community-led development, which the NGO has developed and updated in response to feedback from thousands of communities in different socio-cultural African contexts over the past 20 years.

During this third training session hosted by Tostan, participants came from fifteen countries and included community activists, members of local, national and international organizations, of governments, as well as representatives from academia and the media.

Mariya and Shaheeda attended the TTC as Orchid Project Fellows. The Orchid Project is a UK based NGO that advocates for a world free of FGC. As fellows, Mariya and Shaheeda were asked to keep video journals of their experience. To learn more about their experience, click on the links below:

You can also take a look at Gbosa - Tostan Training Center’s July 2016 English Cohort Storify transcript for more details.




Survivor Story: ‘The role of men in ending FGM’

Many men in the Dawoodi Bohra community are completely unaware that their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and friends have been circumcised. Ammar Karimjee found out when he was 19, and the shock and indignation about the pain his mother and sister had to endure led him to eventually speak out publicly about the need to bring an end to this ancient ritual. Read his views on the need for men to take on a more active role in the movement against female genital cutting:

“As men, we do not intuitively understand the female body and biological processes that occur within it. Of course, we never will be able to truly know what being a woman feels like, but by gaining an understanding of how their bodies work, we can begin to have an idea. Naturally, we compare things that happen with a woman to its closest direct male counterpart. As such, we associate FGM, or circumcision as many people chose to incorrectly refer to it as, as the equivalent of male circumcision. This is a dangerous fallacy for men to turn to in their justification. The function of the male penis and a woman’s clitoris are not identical – not even close.”

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 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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