By Alifya Sulemanji
Country: United States
In the past few years, we have seen an increase in the awareness of FGM/C in the Dawoodi Bohra community, and it has led to many discussions amongst community members. There is a large number of people who were hesitant about the procedure, and due to a lack of awareness about the harmful effects of FGM/C have been carrying on with this ritual. Today, there is so much more information available for people who question the practice and want to know what it really entails. Today, their questions can be answered. Today, because of media awareness, even men from our community know that Khatna has happened to women they know; whereas for decades they were not aware.
Last year, after the New York Jammat (congregation) issued a letter to the entire community that banned FGM/C, many people in the community became aware that khatna was an act that violated human rights. The letter also made them aware that if anyone attempted to carry out FGM/C and they were caught, they would be prosecuted for doing so.
Recently, a mother from the community approached me and told me that she disliked that her older daughter had to go through khatna because her in-laws had pressured that the girl goes through it. She also told me that she was very happy that her younger daughter doesn’t have to go through this atrocity. She told me it was commendable to see that we were working to raise awareness about harmful effects of FGM/C within the Dawoodi Bohra community.
Another friend from India recently wrote me and told me that since she has read so much about FGM/C in the media, she has been able to gather the courage to say no to having her daughter undergo it. She also told me that she felt encouraged to say no to the practice after reading my Facebook post against Khatna, and after reading my FGM/C story on the Sahiyo website. My friend told me that she is still facing pressure from her mother-in-law to get it done to her daughter, but she is now trying her best to ensure that situation does not occur. She also told me that because or her own decision to not have her daughter undergo it, she has seen a ripple effect, and another friend of hers has also gathered courage to speak up and stand up for her daughter to ensure they don’t undergo it as well.
It is important to teach people that there is nothing good about khatna, it only leads to physical mental turmoil for little girls and women.
The theory behind this ritual is that after a girl has her khatna done, she will lose her libido and therefore, she will not stray from the marriage bed, and she will be loyal to her husband. This type of thinking is completely a misconception and is misinformation passed down by religious leaders.
I have many non-Bohra/Muslim friends who don’t go through this procedure and who did not indulge in sex before they were married or who never engage in adultery, whereas I know women from the Bohra community who have had premarital sex in spite of undergoing khatna. Khatna has nothing to do with one’s sexual desire, but it certainly does takes away the woman’s pleasure or sexual satisfaction, which is unfair and cruel.