(First published on May 24, 2016)
A heartfelt letter from a Bohra father, who wished to remain unnamed, to his grown-up daughter. Read the Gujarati translation of this letter here.
Many years ago, I made a mistake. Your mother came to me and said “I’m going to have our daughter circumcised”. I knew nothing about this procedure, assuming that your mother knew best. My ignorance is no excuse for what you went through.
I’ve asked your mother many times since this occurred, why an educated woman who resides in a country where this is illegal subjected her daughter to this practice? I never received a valid reason. Simply saying that “it’s in our religion” is not a good enough answer for me to accept that my daughter went through this.
When I read your account of what happened, my eyes filled with tears. For all of these years I was oblivious to the trauma that you underwent. You were an innocent child. I wonder how many other fathers are in the same position as me – finally learning about this heinous practice and unaware of how their daughters have silently struggled with this for so many years.
I remember the first time I held you in my arms and thought to myself “she’s perfect”. You were my little miracle, after years of wanting a daughter, you finally arrived. I’m sorry that something was removed from you, because there was nothing wrong with you to begin with. I know that it is your upbringing and your strong values that prevent you from sinning and nothing else.
To think that you were only 5 years old, completely oblivious to what was happening to you and frightened, I’m sorry that I wasn’t there to protect you.
Ignorance is never an excuse. Nor is it acceptable to turn a blind eye. I promise you that I will do everything in my power to support the noble cause of finally putting an end to this practice – and ensuring that other fathers become aware of what goes on behind closed doors. A crime against girls, committed by those who love them due to incorrect beliefs and reasons.
One day, when you become a mother, I will stand behind you, like I should have done years ago and ensure that this family’s next generation never has to suffer the way that you did.
All my love,