Human Rights Day panel at New England School of Law


On March 10, 2016, Sahiyo Co-founder Mariya spoke at the New England School of Law for the event: Human Rights Day Panel: A Poignant Discussion on Female Genital Mutilation. Prior to the beginning of the event, the panel organizers played the Hindustani Times news report FGM: India’s Dark Secret to provide context that FGM/C is more global issue than previously acknowledged. In acknowledging the global nature of FGC, currently, the state of Massachusetts in the United States is in the process of passing legislation criminalizing all forms of FGC with the bill – “An Act Establishing Civil and Criminal Penalties for Female Genital Mutilation” (House Bill H1530; Senate S1116).

Other speakers on the panel included members of the Massachusetts FGM Task Force who have been diligently working on the FGC issue for number of years. These members included Katie Donahue Cintolo, Women’s Bar Association and Susan McLucas, director of Sin Saunuman (Health Tomorrow) organization. Professor Dina Francesca Haynes, a human rights lawyer and professor at the New England School of Law who has worked on hundred of FGC cases also spoke.The event was presented by the International Law Society and sponsored by the Immigration Law Association, the Charles Hamilton Houston Enrichment Program, and the Center for International Law and Policy.

3 thoughts on “Human Rights Day panel at New England School of Law

  1. Saifuddin Merchant

    Wonder how many Bohra woman are trying to stop “khatna “since the past 30years.
    Are they against the shariat or the method employed for khatna?
    By using the word “mutilation ” you are adding to the ignorance that already exists regarding khatna.
    Rasul (as) will never include anything in the Shari’a that is harmful to anyone.


    1. Dear Mr. Merchant,

      Not enough women have spoken about khatna so openly because of the very real fear of backlash and ostracism that is so rampantly practiced by the Dawoodi Bohra community. And, you must have surely come across the article by Dr. Rehana Ghadially who exposed this practice as far back as 1991.

      Dawoodi Bohra women are now speaking up against this absolutely heinous practice not because they are against the Shariat or would approve of the procedure were it medicalized, but because they all are against the ritual of disfiguring and maiming a young girl of seven and changing the integrity of her body, without her consent.

      Khatna, as so many of our fellow Bohris have shared with us of late, is supposedly restricted to the cutting of the prepuce or clitoral hood. When performed by a specialist surgeon who has many, many, many years of experience in doing this procedure for all the right medical reasons on an adult woman with her informed consent, it is termed as clitoral unhooding.

      Do read up a little on what the World Health Organisation has to say on FGM and its 4 Types.

      You sound like an intelligent man, so you will appreciate the similarities between WHO’s definition of FGM, which goes something like, “Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons“, the Dawoodi Bohra definition of khatna, and the dictionary definition of the word mutilation, which is below:

      – to injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts
      – to deprive (a person or animal) of a limb or other essential part.

      To elucidate further, I will provide you the etymology of the word “mutilate” and it is: 1525-35; < Latin mutilātus (past participle of mutilāre to cut off, maim), equivalent to mutil (us) maimed, mutilated + -ātus -ate1

      We at Sahiyo prefer to call khatna as “Female genital cutting” and it is not because we don’t believe it fits the definition of mutilation, but because we would like to be sensitive to our community’s beliefs and we want to work with the community to try and impress upon them of the need to reject this unnecessary procedure that is aimed at suppressing a woman’s sexuality.

      And, as you know, the Prophet (SA) and men in those times also had multiple wives and thought it was OK, but we don’t approve that in today’s day and age. Do we? Everything that is prescribed by religion serves as guiding lessons for laymen to live a moral and virtuous life without harming or hurting their fellow humans, animals or their environment. These rules are not written in stone (with the exception of the 10 Commandments), and if we cannot contextualize them with the passage of time, then truly we are doomed.


  2. My thoughts

    Contextualising rules of religion is a personal affair. Each one has the right to contextulise their religious belief. If you choose your ways…we choose the way moula(tus) leads us to. Whichever way we both make choice. You call my choice fanaticism’s entirely your opinion. And WHO is no one to contextualise my religion. Most of them formulating policies like these….hate my larger community (Muslims). And a few Muslims saying female circumcision is un Islamic …well, they can have their opinion.

    And reaching orgasm is difficult for most women…not only if they are circimcised. And rreducing over stimulation is work of prepuce…and removal of prepuce would only increase sexual pleasure. …so reasons like curbing sexual pleasure is simply your attempt at “sensationalising ” things. Okay if some ppl told you that is the reason…but that doesn’t make it right.

    Yes Quran allows upto four wives but the conditions imposed of strict justice are not possible in those days or today… except for ppl like Rasool and his wasi , who can be trusted for their justice. So Quran and Hadith are never outdated.! Never!


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