Sahiyo hosts its second Thaal Pe Charcha event for Bohra women

On July 1, Sahiyo conducted its second ‘Thaal Pe Charcha’ event which was attended by 20 women from the Dawoodi Bohra community. Thaal Pe Charcha (TPC), which loosely translates as “having discussions while eating food”, is a flagship Sahiyo programme where Bohra women are brought together in a private, informal setting so that they can bond over food and discuss issues that affect their lives, like FGC or Khatna.

Sahiyo’s first TPC was held in February with women in their 20s and 30s. This time, participants included women from all age groups, the youngest being 18 and the oldest 74 years of age. The women included students, working professionals, home-makers, and also a practicing doctor. This eclectic mix gave Sahiyo an opportunity to gauge the thought processes of women across different demographics, on the much-debated practice of Khatna within the Dawoodi Bohra community.

The event was kicked off with an introductory session, followed by a film screening of Priya Goswami’s ‘A Pinch of Skin’, a delicious, traditional thaal lunch, and an open forum for women to discuss their thoughts about Khatna.

It was heartening to see the women get emotional while speaking about their experiences of this age-old tradition. Some expressed regret at having done Khatna on their daughters. Others said that if given a choice, they would want to be educated about this ritual, its pros and cons, and perhaps refrain from doing it to their daughters. The highlight of this event was definitely the oldest participant, a 74-year-old woman who defied traditions years ago to ensure that her daughter was not cut.

To view more pictures from Thaal Pe Charcha, check out our Facebook Album.

Female Genital Cutting is being practiced in Kerala too: Sahiyo investigation

by Aarefa Johari and Aysha Mahmood

(Read the Malayalam version of this report here.)

The practice of Female Genital Cutting (FGC) in India has so far been associated only with the Dawoodi Bohra community and other smaller Bohra sub-sects. However, a recent investigation by Sahiyo found that FGC – the ritual of cutting parts of the female genitalia – is also being practiced by some other communities in at least one part of Kerala.

During an investigation in February, Sahiyo found a medical clinic in Kozhikode (Calicut) where two doctors admitted that they perform the procedure of “sunnath”, or circumcision, on both boys and girls. They claimed that women from several local Muslim sects are increasingly coming to their clinic to have sunnath performed for themselves, their daughters and even their daughters-in-law.

The doctors said that in the female circumcision ritual, they cut the prepuce of the clitoris, also known as the clitoral hood, because it is allegedly “good for married life”. They also mentioned that “some husbands insist on it”. The doctors claimed that this ritual is also practiced in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Africa, but denied that it could be harmful.

However, the sunnath ritual described by the Kozhikode doctors falls within the World Health Organisation’s definition of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), which is internationally recognised as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women. WHO defines FGM/C as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

WHO has classified FGM/C into four types, based on degrees of severity. The least severe – and most common – is Type 1, which involves partial or total removal of the clitoris or the clitoral hood. (Read about the other Types of FGM/C here.)

Female Genital Cutting in Kerala

Sahiyo’s investigation in Kerala was based on a tip-off from a resident of the state who had come across discussions about sunnath on females in some online Malayalam forums. The resident claimed that the practice is typically performed by an “ozathy” or a traditional cutter without medical training, but is also being done by some doctors in the Malabar region.

When Sahiyo spoke to gynaecologists in prominent hospitals in Kozhikode and Malapuram, they stated they were unaware of the practice and were firmly opposed to it. However, one small clinic in Kozhikode, run by a doctor known for performing male circumcisions, candidly admitted practicing sunnath on girls as well.

For the investigation, the Sahiyo reporter posed as woman who needed to make inquiries about female sunnath because her fiancé’s mother wanted her to be circumcised before marriage. When asked if she performs female sunnath, the lady doctor at the clinic said, “yes, we do it”. She said that the practice involved “cutting the foreskin of the clitoris” to increase sexual pleasure, and that it is “good for married life”.

The lady doctor claimed that the practice was now growing popular among Muslim women from “many sects” in Kerala, and that she performed it for girls and women of “any age”. For very young girls, she said, the procedure is sometimes performed by the male doctor who runs the clinic. The doctors apply local anaesthesia before the cutting, and they claim the wound takes five days to heal.

“It is better to do it when the girl is a baby,” the lady doctor said. “But these days a lot of women prefer to get it done for themselves immediately after delivering their baby, when they’re also getting other stitches to their vagina. That way they have to deal with two pains in one go.” According to the doctors, some women also ask for sunnath after delivery because “delivery lessens sexual pleasure and the sunnath helps enhance it”.

The lady doctor also offers pre- and post-marriage counselling at the clinic, and she claimed that she recommends sunnath for women during such counselling to allegedly improve their sex lives. “Once their sex life is better, their marriage will also be happy,” she said.

When Sahiyo asked whether the practice is compulsory for Muslim women, the doctor said, “It is not compulsory, but if your mother-in-law has told you to do it, then it is compulsory for you, you have to get it done.”

The male doctor at the clinic claimed that the practice is mentioned in “four or five Hadiths”, or Islamic texts containing the teachings of the Prophet. “You should read up about it, this is also done in Saudi, Egypt and Africa,” he said. The doctor denied any knowledge of the fact that this practice is controversial or that some African communities cut more than just the clitoris. “There is no controversy, very little is cut,” he said.

Despite this, the clinic’s website mentions only male circumcision in the list of services it offers, and makes no mention of female circumcision. The practice is secretive, the doctors said, because it is a “female issue”, and the religious taboos associated with “all things female” prevent people from talking about it. However, the doctors asked the Sahiyo reporters to “spread the word” among friends that they perform sunnath for girls.

It is unclear how widespread the practice of FGC is in Kerala, or for how long it has been practiced in the region. Since the investigation, Sahiyo has come across at least two persons – one from Kerala and one from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu – who claim to know a female relative who has undergone sunnath, but the women in question did not wish to come on record.

Is FGC illegal in India?

According to WHO, there are no medical benefits of any type of FGM/C, and the practice can in fact be harmful. The negative health consequences of Type 1 FGM/C include pain, bleeding, urinary problems, infections, injury to genital tissue, sexual problems and long-term psychological trauma. The clitoris, located above the vagina and urethra, is a bundle of sensitive nerve tissue that serves the sole purpose of giving the woman sexual pleasure when aroused. Damage to the clitoris can lead to reduced sexual sensitivity and stimulation.

FGC is not an Islamic practice and is not mentioned anywhere in the Quran. It is not practiced by all Muslim sects and in some countries, it is practiced among Christian, Jewish and animist communities too.

FGC illegal in at least 41 countries around the world, including in Egypt and several African countries. India does not have a specific law against FGC, but the Supreme Court is currently hearing a Public Interest Litigation by an independent lawyer asking for a ban on the practice.

On May 8, the Supreme Court asked the Central government and four state governments to respond to the PIL. On May 29, women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi issued a statement clarifying that Female Genital Cutting would already be considered illegal under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

Contact Sahiyo:
Sahiyo is a collective working to end the practice of Female Genital Cutting / Khatna / Sunnath among all South Asian communities.
If you have undergone this practice in Kerala or any other part of India, and would like to talk about your experience or get more information about the practice, reach out to Sahiyo at info@sahiyo.com.
We will help you to the best of our abilities, and your confidentiality will be protected.”

AN APPEAL TO THE MEDIA

We understand that Female Genital Cutting (FGC) is a shocking topic for many people, and that the media is likely to investigate and report on FGC in Kerala in the days to come. However, it is also a very sensitive topic for women who have undergone the practice and for communities that follow it.
Sahiyo therefore appeals to all journalists, editors, photographers, graphic designers and bloggers to report on this topic sensitively, without sensationalism, by keeping the following points in mind:

• Respect the privacy and perspective of women and girls: FGC is a form of gender-based violence, so when you are interviewing and quoting women who have undergone FGC, do not reveal any information that will compromise their identities (unless the woman consents to reveal her own identity). Ask her if she prefers to be called a “survivor”, a “victim” or neither, and use the term that she chooses for herself.

• “Mutilation” versus “Cutting”: FGC is often called Female Genital Mutilation in the media, but “mutilation” is a controversial term that many FGC-practicing communities find offensive and judgemental. This is because women do not cut their daughters with the intention of “mutilating” or harming them – they do it because they believe it is a social, cultural or religious norm that is good for their daughters. Several activists around the world now prefer the more neutral term “Female Genital Cutting”, and even the World Health Organisation now calls the practice “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting”. So we request the media to avoid the term “mutilation”, unless community members themselves prefer to use that term.

• Avoid sensationalist language and visuals: Please avoid using words like “barbaric”, “horrific”, “gruesome” or “tribal” to describe FGC. Such language can be traumatic for women who have undergone the practice and can also alienate the communities who practice FGC. Similarly, avoid depicting FGC with images of blades covered with blood or children crying in pain. These too, can be traumatic for women who have been through the practice.

• Read Sahiyo’s Media Resource Guide: Sahiyo has created a special guide to help the media understand the practice of FGC and report on it sensitively and effectively. Although this guide focuses largely on the Dawoodi Bohra community, a lot of the information applies to any reporting on FGC anywhere. Click here to read it.

പെൺസുന്നത്ത്/ചേലാകർമ്മം കേരളത്തിലും – ഒരു സഹിയോ അന്വേഷണം

– ആരിഫാ ജോഹരി , ആയിഷ മഹ്മൂദ് എന്നിവരുടെ കണ്ടെത്തലുകൾ.

(Read the English version of this report here.)

ഇന്ത്യയിൽ പെൺകുട്ടികളുടെ ചേലാകർമ്മം, ഇന്ന് വരെ  ദാവൂദി ബോഹ്‌റാ വിഭാഗക്കാരുടെ ഇടയിലും മറ്റു ചെറുബോഹ്‌റാ വിഭാഗങ്ങളുടെയും ഇടയിൽ മാത്രമാണ് ആചരിച്ചു വരുന്നത് എന്നാണു പൊതുവെയുള്ള വിശ്വാസം . എന്നാൽ, സഹിയോ എന്ന സംഘടന ഈയടുത്ത് നടത്തിയ ചില അന്വേഷണങ്ങളിൽ , പെൺസുന്നത്ത് മറ്റു ചില ഇസ്‌ലാമിക വിഭാഗങ്ങളുടെ ഇടയിലും , കേരളത്തിന്റെ ചിലഭാഗങ്ങളിൽ എങ്കിലും, നടത്തുന്നതായി സൂചന ലഭിക്കുകയുണ്ടായി.

ഫെബ്രുവരിയിൽ നടത്തിയ ഒരു അണ്ടർകവർ അന്വേഷണത്തിൽ, സഹിയോയുടെ പ്രവർത്തകർ, കോഴിക്കോട്ടുള്ള ഒരു ക്ലിനിക്കിൽ, പെൺചേലാകർമ്മം ചെയ്യാറുണ്ടെന്നു സമ്മതിക്കുന്ന രണ്ട് ഡോക്ടർമാരെ പരിചയപ്പെടുകയുണ്ടായി. പെൺകുട്ടികളുടെയും ആൺകുട്ടികളുടെയും ചേലാകര്മ്മം  അവരുടെ ക്ലിനിക്കിൽ സ്ഥിരമായി നടക്കാറുണ്ടെന്ന് അവർ അവകാശപ്പെട്ടു. അവരുടെ വാദമനുസരിച്ച്  കേരളത്തിന്റ പലഭാഗങ്ങളിൽ നിന്നും സ്ത്രീകൾ സുന്നത്ത് ചെയ്യാനായി അവരെ സമീപിക്കുകയും, അവരുടെ പെൺമക്കളെയും, മരുമകളെയും കൊണ്ട് വരാറുണ്ടെന്നും പറയുന്നു. ഇവരുടെ എണ്ണത്തിൽ വർദ്ധനവും ഉണ്ടെന്ന് അവർ പറയുന്നു.

ഡോക്ടർ വിശദീകരിക്കുന്നത്, പെൺസുന്നത്തിനു സ്ത്രീകളുടെ യോനീഛദത്തിന്റെ (clitoris) അറ്റത്തുള്ള തോല് നീക്കുകയാണ് ചെയ്യുക. ഇത് clitoral hood എന്നാണുഅറിയപ്പെടുന്നത്. അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ അഭിപ്രായത്തിൽ ഇത് “വൈവാഹികജീവിതം അത്യാഹ്ലാദകരമാക്കുന്നു”. മാത്രമല്ല ചില ഭർത്താക്കന്മാരും, ഭാര്യമാരും ഇതിനു നിർബന്ധം പിടിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നു. സൗദിയിലും ഈജിപ്തിലും ആഫ്രിക്കയിലും ഇത് സർവ്വസാധാരണമാണെന്നും- ഇതിൽ യാതൊരു അപകടം  ഇല്ലെന്നും അവർ സാക്ഷ്യപെടുത്തുന്നു.

എന്നിരിക്കിലും, കോഴിക്കോട്ടുള്ള ഈ ഡോക്ടർമാർ വിവരിച്ച രീതിയിലുള്ള ചേലാകർമ്മം ലോകാരോഗ്യസംഘടനയുടെ (WHO) Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting (FGM/ C) എന്ന നിർവചനത്തിൽപെടുന്നതാണ്. ഇതാവട്ടെ മാനുഷികാവകാശങ്ങൾ ഹനിക്കുകയും, സ്ത്രീകൾക്ക് എതിരായുള്ള വിവേചനപൂർണ്ണനടപടിയായി അംഗീകരിക്കപ്പെട്ടതും ആണ്. ലോകാരോഗ്യസംഘടന FGM/ Cയെ ഇങ്ങനെ നിർവചിക്കുന്നു “സ്ത്രീകളുടെ ബാഹ്യമായി കാണപ്പെടുന്ന യോനി വൈദ്യശാസ്ത്രപരമായ ആവശ്യങ്ങൾക്കല്ലാതെ പൂർണ്ണമോ ഭാഗികമോ ആയി നീക്കം ചെയ്യുന്നതോ, മുറിവേൽപ്പിക്കുന്നതോ ആയ എല്ലാ രീതിയിലുള്ള പ്രവർത്തിയും ഇതിൽപെടുന്നു”

ലോകാരോഗ്യസംഘടനാ FGM/ C അതിന്റെ തീവ്രത അനുസരിച്ച് നാല് തരമായി തിരിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നു. ഏറ്റവും തീവ്രത കുറഞ്ഞതും -എന്നാൽ ഏറ്റവും പൊതുവായി നടത്തപെടുന്നതും ഇതിൽ ടൈപ് വൺ എന്ന്  വിളിക്കപ്പെടുന്ന അഗ്രചർമ്മം മുറിച്ച്  നീക്കുന്ന രീതിയാണ്.

കേരളത്തിലെ പെൺസുന്നത്ത്:

സ്ത്രീചേലാകർമ്മത്തെ കുറിച്ചുള്ള ഒരു മലയാളം ബ്ലോഗിൽ വന്ന കമന്റ് കാണുകയും , സഹിയോയെ ബന്ധപ്പെടുകയും ചെയ്ത ഒരു മലയാളിയിൽ നിന്നാണ് നമ്മുടെ അന്വേഷണം തുടങ്ങുന്നത്. അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ അറിവ് വച്ച്, കേരളത്തിൽ ഇത്  നടത്തുന്നത് “ഒസ്സാതികൾ” എന്ന് പ്രാദേശികമായി അറിയപ്പെട്ടിരുന്ന ക്ഷുരകന്മാർ ആയിരുന്നു- അപൂർവ്വമായി ഡോക്ടർമാരും.

ഇതനുസരിച്ച്  സഹിയോ പ്രവർത്തകർ മലബാറിലെ ചില ആശുപത്രികൾ സന്ദർശിക്കുകയും , അന്വേഷണം നടത്തുകയും ചെയ്തു. ഈ ഹോസ്പിറ്റലുകളിൽ ഞങ്ങൾ ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട ഡോക്ടർമാർ ഇങ്ങനെയൊരു ആചാരത്തെ കുറിച്ച് കേട്ടറിവ്  മാത്രമാണെന്നും , അതൊരു രീതിയിലും അംഗീകരിക്കുകയോ പിന്തുടരുകയോ ചെയ്യാറില്ല എന്ന് ഉറപ്പിച്ച് പറഞ്ഞു. മാത്രമല്ല, അങ്ങനെയുള്ള എന്തെങ്കിലും കണ്ടാൽ അത് റിപ്പോർട്ട് ചെയ്യുകയും ചെയ്യും എന്നും പറഞ്ഞു.  ഇതിനു ശേഷമാണ് സുന്നത്ത് ക്ലിനിക് എന്ന് പരക്കെ അറിയപ്പെടുന്ന ഒരു ചെറിയ ക്ലിനിക്കിൽ ഇത് ചെയ്യാറുണ്ട് എന്ന് അവിടെയുള്ള ഡോക്ടർ തന്നെ യാതൊരു സങ്കോചവും ഇല്ലാതെ സമ്മതിച്ചത്.

അന്വേഷണത്തിനായി സഹിയോപ്രവർത്തകർ ആവശ്യക്കാരായി നടിക്കുകയും അവരെ സമീപിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തു. ഒരു പ്രവർത്തക തന്നെ ഭർതൃവീട്ടിൽ നിന്നും നിർബന്ധിക്കുന്നു എന്ന വ്യാജേന അതിനെ പറ്റി കൂടുതൽ അറിയാൻ വന്നതാണെന്നും പേടിയുണ്ടെന്നും പറഞ്ഞു. “ഇവിടെ ഇഷ്ടം പോലെ ചെയ്യാറുണ്ടല്ലോ” എന്നായിരുന്നു ലേഡി ഡോക്ടറുടെ മറുപടി. തുടർന്ന് അത് ചെയ്യുന്ന രീതി വിശദമായി പറഞ്ഞു തരികയും “ലൈംഗിക സുഖം വർദ്ധിക്കുകയും” “വൈവാഹികജീവിതത്തിനു ഒഴിച്ച് കൂടാനാവാത്തതും” എന്ന് ഊട്ടിഉറപ്പിക്കുന്ന രീതിയിൽ പറയുകയും ചെയ്തു. തങ്ങളുടെ അടുത്ത് വൈവാഹിക കൗസലിങ്ങിന് വരുന്നവരോട് തങ്ങൾ പെൺസുന്നത്ത് നീർദ്ദേശിക്കാറുണ്ടെന്നും, അതവരുടെ ലൈംഗികജീവിതവും വിവാഹജീവിതവും ആനന്ദപ്രദമാക്കും എന്നും ഇവർ അവകാശപ്പെടുന്നു.

കേരളത്തിലെ എല്ലാ വിഭാഗം മുസ്ലിങ്ങളുടെയും ഇടയിൽ ഇത് വളരെ പ്രചാരം നേടുന്നുണ്ടെന്നും ആളുകൾ അന്വേഷിച്ച് വരുന്നുണ്ടെന്നും ഇവർ പറയുന്നു.  മാത്രമല്ല, എല്ലാ പ്രായത്തിലുള്ള പെൺകുട്ടികളിലും ചെയ്ത പരിചയം തങ്ങൾക്കുണ്ടെന്നും ഇവർ അവകാശപ്പെടുന്നു. വളരെ കുഞ്ഞുകുട്ടികൾക്ക് അധികവും പുരുഷഡോക്ടർ ആണ് ചെയ്യാറുള്ളതെന്നും മറ്റുള്ളവ താനാണ്  കൈകാര്യം ചെയ്യാറുള്ളതെന്നും ലേഡി ഡോക്ടർ പറഞ്ഞു. പൂർണ്ണ സ്വകാര്യത ക്ലിനിക് വാഗ്ദാനം ചെയുന്നു.   ചേലാകർമ്മത്തിനു മുൻപേ ലോക്കൽ അനസ്തീസിയ ചെയ്ത് ആ ഭാഗം മരവിപ്പിക്കുകയും , തുടർന്ന് വേദനസംഹാരിയും നൽകുന്നതായിരിക്കും. മുറിവ് ഉണങ്ങാൻ അഞ്ചു മുതൽ ആറു ദിവസം എടുക്കും എന്നാണു അറിയിച്ചത്.

“കൈക്കുഞ്ഞായിരിക്കുന്പോൾ ചെയ്യുന്നതാണ് അഭികാമ്യം. പക്ഷെ ഇപ്പോൾ ഒരു പാട് സ്ത്രീകൾ അവരുടെ പ്രസവശേഷം, സുന്നത്ത് ചെയ്യാറുണ്ട്. അതാകുന്പോൾ പ്രസവസമയത്ത് ഉള്ള തുന്നലും, ഇതിന്റെ തുന്നലും എല്ലാം ഒരു വേദനയിൽ കഴിഞ്ഞു കിട്ടും. ശേഷം അവരുടെ ലൈംഗികസുഖവും ഇരട്ടിക്കും. പ്രസവശേഷം പലരുടെയും സുഖം കുറയുന്നതായി കാണാം.” എന്ന് ലേഡി ഡോക്ടർ വിശദീകരിക്കുന്നു.

മുസ്ലിം സ്ത്രീകൾക്ക് ഇത് നിർബന്ധമാണോ എന്ന് സഹിയോ  ചോദിച്ചപ്പോൾ “നിബന്ധമൊന്നുമല്ല. പക്ഷെ ഭർത്താവും അമ്മായിയമ്മയും പറയുകയാണെങ്കിൽ നിങ്ങൾ ചെയ്തേ തീരൂ, നിങ്ങൾക്ക് അത്  നീർബന്ധം തന്നെയാണ്” എന്ന് ഡോക്ടർ മറുപടി നൽകുന്നു.

ക്ലിനിക്കിലെ പുരുഷഡോക്ടർ, ഹദീസിൽ നാലഞ്ചിടത്ത്ഇ ഇതിനെ കുറിച്ച് വളരെ വ്യക്തമായി പരാമർശിക്കുന്നുണ്ടെന്നും, അവ വായിക്കുന്നത് നന്നായിരിക്കുമെന്നും ഉപദേശിക്കുന്നു. മാത്രമല്ല സൗദിയിലും ഈജിപ്തിലും ആഫ്രിക്കയിലും എത്രയോ ആയിരം വര്ഷങ്ങളായി ഇത് പിന്തുടരുന്നുണ്ടല്ലോ എന്നും ഓർമിപ്പിക്കുന്നു. ആ രാജ്യങ്ങളിലെ ഇത്തരം ആചാരങ്ങളെ കുറിച്ച് പേടിപ്പെടുത്തുന്ന കഥകളും , അതിനെതിരായി വിവാദങ്ങളും കണ്ടതായി പ്രവർത്തകർ ആശങ്ക പ്രകടിപ്പിച്ചപ്പോൾ “അതൊക്കെ വെറുതെയാണ്. ഒരു ചെറിയ മുറിവ് മാത്രമാണ്, അല്ലാതെ മുഴുവനായി മുറിച്ച് കളയുകയൊന്നും ഇല്ല” എന്ന് ഡോക്ടർ വ്യക്തമാക്കുന്നു.

എന്നാൽ, ഈ ക്ലിനിക്കിന്റെ വെബ്‌സൈറ്റിൽ ആൺകുട്ടികളുടെ സുന്നത്തിനെ കുറിച്ച് മാത്രമേ പരസ്യം ചെയ്തിട്ടുള്ളൂ എന്ന കാര്യം ചൂണ്ടി കാണിച്ചപ്പോൾ, അവർ അത് വിട്ടു പോയതാണെന്നും, അതൊന്നു മറക്കാതെ ചെയ്യണം എന്ന് പരസ്പരം ഓർമ്മിപ്പിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തു. മാത്രമല്ല പ്രവർത്തകരോട് ഞങ്ങളുടെ സുഹൃത്തുക്കളോടും കുടുംബക്കാരോടും ഈ സർവ്വീസ് ഇവിടെ ലഭ്യമാണെന്ന് അറിയിക്കണം എന്ന് ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടു.

പെൺസുന്നത്ത്  കേരളത്തിൽ എത്രത്തോളം വിപുലമാണ് എന്നതിന് കണക്കുകൾ ഇല്ല- എത്ര കാലമായി എന്നതിനോ. സ്ത്രീലൈംഗികത സംബദ്ധമായ വിഷയമായത് കൊണ്ടും, മതത്തിന്റെ ഒരു ഘടന കാരണവും വളരെ സ്വകാര്യമായി മാത്രം, ഒരു പക്ഷെ, അനുഷ്ഠിച്ച്വരുന്ന ഇത്തരം ആചാരങ്ങളെ കുറിച്ച് വിവരം ശേഖരിക്കുന്നത് പ്രയാസമേറിയതാണ്. സഹിയോയുടെ അന്വേഷണങ്ങൾക്ക് ഒടുവിൽ; പെൺസുന്നത്തിനു വിധേയയായ രണ്ട് പേര് ; കേരളത്തിൽ നിന്ന് ഒരു സ്ത്രീയെയും കോയന്പത്ത്തൂരിൽ നിന്നു ഒരു സ്ത്രീയെയും കണ്ടെത്തുകയും സഹിയോ ബന്ധപ്പെടുകയും ചെയ്തു. എന്നാൽ രണ്ടു പേരും ഒരു വിധത്തിലും ഇതിനെ കുറിച്ച് സംസാരിക്കാനോ സാക്ഷ്യപെടുത്താനോ തയ്യാറായില്ല.

പെൺസുന്നത്ത് ഇന്ത്യയിൽ നിയമവിരുദ്ധമാണോ?

ലോകാരോഗ്യസംഘടനയുടെ വിവരണം അനുസരിച്ച്, പെൺസുന്നത്ത് കൊണ്ട്  യാതൊരു വിധത്തിലുമുള്ള നേട്ടവുമില്ല എന്ന് മാത്രമല്ല അത് ദോഷകരമാണ് താനും. ടൈപ്പ് വൺ FGM/ Cയുടെ ദൂഷ്യഫലങ്ങൾ വേദന, രക്തംപോക്ക്, മൂത്രാശയ അണുബാധ, യോനീകോശങ്ങൾക്കു  സംഭവിക്കാവുന്ന പരിക്ക്, ലൈംഗികപ്രശ്നങ്ങൾ, മാനസികമായ ആഘാതങ്ങൾ എന്നിവ  WHO  രേഖപെടുത്തുന്നു.  യോനിയുടെയും മൂത്രനാളത്തിന്റെയും ഇടയിലുള്ള യോനീച്ഛദം അഥവാ ക്ലിറ്റോറിസ് അതിവൈകാരികമായ നാഡികോശങ്ങളാൽ സന്പന്നമായ ഒരു അവയവഭാഗമാണ്. അതിന്റെ ഏകലക്ഷ്യം സ്ത്രീകളുടെ ലൈംഗിക ആനന്ദം മാത്രമാണ്. അത് മുറിച്ച് മാറ്റുകയോ, പരിക്കേൽപ്പിക്കുകയോ ചെയ്യുന്നതിലൂടെ ലൈംഗികാസ്വാദനവും ഉത്തേജനവും കുറയുകയാണ് ചെയ്യുന്നത്.

FGC  ഒരു ഇസ്‌ലാമിക ആചാരമല്ല, ഇതിനെ കുറിച്ച് ഖുർആനിൽ എവിടെയും പ്രതിപാദിച്ചിട്ടുമില്ല. ഇത് മുസ്ലിംകളുടെ ഇടയിൽ മാത്രം കണ്ടു വരുന്ന ഒരു ആചാരമല്ല താനും. ചില രാജ്യങ്ങളിൽ ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികളും, ജൂതന്മാരും, അനിമിസ്റ്റ്  വിഭാഗക്കാരും ഇത് പിന്തുടരാറുണ്ട്.

ലോകത്തെ  41 രാജ്യങ്ങളിൽ പെൺചേലാകർമ്മം നിയമവിരുദ്ധമാണ് – ഇതിൽ ഈജിപ്തും ചില  ആഫ്രിക്കൻരാജ്യങ്ങളും ഉൾപെടും.  ഇന്ത്യയിൽ ഇതിനെതിരെ നിലവിൽ ഒരു നിയമങ്ങളും ഇല്ല – എന്നാൽ ഒരു സ്വത്രന്ത്രവക്കീൽ ഇതിനെതിരായി സമർപ്പിച്ച പൊതുതാല്പര്യഹർജി ഇപ്പോൾ സുപ്രീംകോടതിയുടെ പരിഗണയിലുണ്ട്.

മെയ് എട്ടാം തീയതി സുപ്രീംകോടതി കേന്ദ്രസർക്കാരിനോടും, നാല് സംസ്ഥാന സർക്കാരുകളോടും ഈ പൊതുതാല്പര്യ ഹർജിയോട് പ്രതികരിക്കാൻ ആവശ്യപെട്ടിട്ടുണ്ട്.  മെയ് 29നു, വനിതാശിശുവികസനമന്ത്രാലയം ശ്രീമതി മേനകഗാന്ധിയുടെ നേതൃത്ത്വത്തിൽ, ഇന്ത്യൻ ശിക്ഷാനിയമത്തിന്റെയും Protection of Children from Sexual Offence  അഥവാ POSCOയുടെയും കീഴിൽ സ്ത്രീചേലാകർമ്മം സ്വയമേവ നിയമവിരുദ്ധമായി തീരും എന്ന് പ്രസ്താവനയിറക്കി.

സഹിയോയെ കുറിച്ച് കൂടുതൽ അറിയാൻ:

സഹിയോ; സ്ത്രീ ചേലാകർമ്മം , പെൺസുന്നത്ത്, ഖാറ്റ്നാ എന്നിങ്ങനെയുള്ള FGC  ആചാരങ്ങൾ ദക്ഷിണ ഏഷ്യൻ രാജ്യങ്ങളിൽ നിന്ന് തുടച്ചുനീക്കാൻ പ്രവർത്തിക്കുന്ന ഒരു സന്നദ്ധസംഘടനയാണ്.

നിങ്ങളിൽ ആർക്കെങ്കിലും ഇതിനെ കുറിച്ച് കൂടുതൽ അറിവുണ്ടെങ്കിൽ, അല്ലെങ്കിൽ അറിയാൻ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നെങ്കിൽ ഞങ്ങളുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെടാവുന്നതാണ്. info@sahiyo.com എന്ന അഡ്രസ്സിൽ നിങ്ങൾക്ക് മെയിൽ ചെയ്യാം.

വാർത്താമാധ്യമങ്ങളോടുഒരുഅപേക്ഷ

പെൺസുന്നത്ത് എന്ന ആചാരം പലർക്കും ഞെട്ടിപ്പിക്കുന്ന ഒരു സത്യം ആണെന്ന് ഞങ്ങൾ മനസ്സിലാക്കുന്നു.  ഇത് മീഡിയയിൽ സെൻസേഷൻ ആകാവുന്ന ഒരു വിഷയുമാണ്. എന്നിരുന്നാലും ഇതിനു വിധേയമായ സ്ത്രീകൾക്കും കുട്ടികൾക്കും ഇത് വളരെ വൈകാരികമായ ഒരു വിഷയം ആണെന്ന് കൂടി ഓർക്കേണ്ടതുണ്ട്. ഇതിനാൽ, ഈ വിഷയം കൈകാര്യം ചെയ്യാൻ ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്ന മാധ്യമപ്രവർത്തകർ, എഡിറ്റർ, ഫോട്ടോഗ്രാഫർ, ഗ്രാഫിക്ഡിസൈനേഴ്സ്, ബ്ലോഗേഴ്സ് എന്നിവർ സമചിത്തതയോടും സഹാനുഭൂതിയോടും കൂടി വർത്തിക്കണം എന്ന് അപേക്ഷിക്കുന്നു.

– ഇതിനു വിധേയയായ സ്ത്രീകളുടെയും പെൺകുട്ടികളുടെയും സ്വകാര്യതയെമാനിക്കുക : പെൺസുന്നത്ത് ഒരു തരത്തിലുള്ള ലിംഗ-വിവേചന അക്രമമാണ്, അതിനാൽ നിങ്ങൾ ഇന്റർവ്യൂ ചെയ്യുന്പോഴും, അവരുടെ വാക്കുകൾ ഉദ്ധരിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്പോൾ അവരുടെ പേരോ മറ്റു വിവരങ്ങളോ , അവരുടെ പൂർണ്ണസമ്മതത്തോടെയല്ലാതെ പുറത്ത് വിടരുത്. അവരെ “ഇര” “അതിജീവിച്ചവൾ” അതോ മറ്റുവല്ല വാക്കുകളാൽ സംബോധന ചെയ്യാമോ എന്ന് അവരോട് തന്നെ ചോദിച്ച് ഉറപ്പ് വരുത്തുക.

– ഛേദം പ്രതി മുറിക്കൽ: FGC എന്നത് പലപ്പോഴും FGM അഥവാ Female Genital Mutilation എന്ന് വിളിച്ച് കാണാറുണ്ട്. Mutilation അഥവാ ഛേദം എന്ന വാക്കു ഉപയോഗിക്കുന്നതിനെ കുറിച്ച് ആചാരമനുഷ്ഠിക്കുന്നവരുടെ ഇടയിൽ തർക്കങ്ങളുണ്ട് . അവരതിന് പറയുന്ന  കാരണങ്ങൾ ഛേദം എന്ന വാക്കിനു ഒരു വിപരീതലക്ഷ്യാർത്ഥം ഉണ്ടെന്നും ആരും അവരുടെ പെണ്മക്കളെ വികലമാക്കണം എന്ന ഉദ്ദേശത്തോടു കൂടി ഇത് ചെയ്യാറില്ല എന്നും പറയുന്നു. സാമൂഹികവും, മതപരവും, സാമുദായികവുമായ കാരണങ്ങൾ കൊണ്ടാണ് ഈ  ആചാരം അനുഷ്ടിക്കപെടുന്നത്. ലോകമെന്പാടുമുള്ള സാമൂഹികപ്രവർത്തകർ  Female Genital Cutting എന്ന പദം ഉപയോഗിക്കാനാണ് താത്പര്യപെടുന്നത്-  ലോകാരോഗ്യസംഘടന ഇത് ശരിവെക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നു.

– അതിവൈകാരികമായ ഭാഷയും ചിത്രങ്ങളും ഉപയോഗിക്കാതിരിക്കുക:

“അപരിഷ്‌കൃതം” “ദാരുണം” “ഗോത്രീയം” എന്നിങ്ങനെയുള്ള പദങ്ങൾ പെൺസുന്നത്തിനെ കുറിച്ച്  എഴുതുന്പോൾ ഉപയോഗിക്കാതിരിക്കാൻ ശ്രധ്ധിക്കുക. സുന്നത്തിനു വിധേയരായ സ്ത്രീകൾക്ക് ഇത്  അരോചകമായിതോന്നിയേക്കും. ഇത്തരം പദപ്രയോഗങ്ങൾ അവരെ സമൂഹത്തിൽ നിന്നും ഒറ്റപ്പെടുത്തുകയും അവർക്ക് ഒരു തിരിച്ച് വരവ് ദുസ്സഹമാവുകയും ചെയ്യും.

ചോര ഇറ്റി വീഴുന്ന ബ്ലേഡ്,  കരയുന്ന കുഞ്ഞുങ്ങൾ, ബലമായി വിടർത്തി പിടിച്ച കാലുകൾ, പൊത്തി പിടിച്ച വായ എന്നിങ്ങനെയുള്ള ചിത്രങ്ങളും ഗ്രാഫിക്കുകളും  ഉപയോഗിക്കാതിരിക്കുക.

– സഹിയോയുടെ വെബ്സൈറ്റിൽ പോയാൽ നിങ്ങൾക്ക് കൂടുതൽ വിവരങ്ങൾ ലഭിക്കാവുന്നതാണ്. അവരുടെ മീഡിയ റിസോർസ് ഗൈഡ് സഹായകമായിരിക്കും. http://www.sahiyo.com

 

 

Part-time Admin Assistant Position Available in Mumbai

Administration position currently available in Mumbai, India. The individual should be able to commit to 30 hours per month for 7 months (August 1, 2017, until March 31, 2018) in this role. This position is a great opportunity for someone to learn how organizations/advocates engage in work to end Female Genital Cutting. By working towards an FGC-free world, the aim is to recognize and emphasize the values of consent and a child’s/woman’s right over her own body and to enable a culture in which female sexuality is not feared or suppressed but embraced as normal.

If interested, please submit a cover letter and CV/resume to info@sahiyo.com. 

Please note that the candidate is expected to be able to work independently/remotely, and communicate regularly with Supervisors.

The program assistant should:

  • Be comfortable coordinating logistics for events, including hiring of vendors, scouting event locations, assisting with writing MOUs/Contracts for Vendors, managing volunteers.
  • Be able to write relevant and insightful content for reporting requirements, including collating feedback for events, writing events descriptions for social media, newsletter, and grant reporting.
  • Be able to carry out basic financial management tasks, including reviewing the budget, managing bills, keeping track of expenses, submit and reconcile expenses reports.  
  • Be familiar with social media platforms such Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, WordPress, Google+ and basic social media management.
  • Be able to liaison with contractors, vendors, supervisors on a regular basis via email, phone, at the time of any on site activity, and in person regularly.
  • Other related tasks as deemed necessarily

Requirements

  • Be able to travel locally for events and other logistical meetings/tasks
  • Hardworking, driven, energetic, results-oriented and independent  
  • Adhere to supervisor’s mission, vision, and values
  • Desire to learn about FGC, with a focus on engaging with the community in a sensitive manner
  • Proficiency in MS Office (MS Excel and MS PowerPoint, in particular)
  • Excellent time management skills and the ability to prioritize work
  • Attention to detail and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong organizational skills with the ability to multi-task

 

To view pdf of Job Description, click Administrative Assistant Job Description.

 

Announcement: A new research project on Khatna in Mumbai

by Keire Murphy and Cleo Egli

An exciting new research project is being undertaken in Mumbai and its environs this summer which hopes to bring a new perspective to the international discussion of khatna. The project, which is a cultural study on khatna, the Bohra community, and the current activist movement against the practice, is being carried out by Keire Murphy from Trinity College Dublin and Cleo Egli from University of North Carolina, who have been awarded the Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship in order to complete the project.

It will be interesting to see how an entirely external perspective engages with the Bohra culture and cultural specificities of khatna, which is so distinct from the practice portrayed in Western media. The stated goal of the project is to explore and understand not just the practice but also the culture (or cultures) of the Bohra community. The researchers hope that this will enable them to make recommendations to activists coming from outside of the community hoping to work on this issue on how to engage with this issue in a culturally sensitive and culturally specific way.

Murphy and Egli claim to have undertaken this project because of the lack of research that has been engaged in not only on the subject of khatna but also on the Bohra community itself, which they believe is an essential step to effecting lasting social and cultural change. For them, “In order to change, we must first understand”. The women want to explore the identities of the members, particularly the female members, who comprise the Dawoodi Bohra community, how the community defines itself, the tensions and divisions within the community as well as its unifying factors. They want to explore the “beauty and pride of the community in order to better understand its controversial underside.” They are particularly interested in exploring the current movement within the community, led by SAHIYO and Bohra women; how the movement is perceived by the people it is aimed at and what factors are integral for a woman deciding whether to continue the long-standing tradition or face the possible repercussions of breaking with the ancient mould; and what distinguishes a woman who simply doesn’t continue the practice from a woman who goes further and actively campaigns against it.

This project will hopefully be a significant stepping stone to bringing global humanitarian and academic attention to this issue that has often been overshadowed by African practices that, although put in the same category globally, so little resemble the experience of the Dawoodi Bohra. This project is also hoping to act as a precursor and guide for the more comprehensive studies that this issue deserves. This is an incredibly important time for the Bohra community both within India and Pakistan and abroad, with media attention being dramatically drawn to the issue by the highly publicised arrests of practitioners of khatna in the United States. The community may be facing a large amount of media attention in the coming years and it is the aim of this project to provide the members of the community with an opportunity to set the story straight from the beginning about who they are.

The study will take place in Mumbai from the June 24 to July 23, 2017, and researchers are calling for research participants, both in Mumbai on these dates, or in other parts of India from July 24 to the August 7. They also have an open call without date restrictions for participants who would like to engage in interviews over Skype. Participants can be male or female, and do not have to speak of their experience of khatna if they would prefer not to.

All Bohras are encouraged to participate, so that the research will be representative of all groups and opinions in the community. Submissions are also welcome, but interviews will be given more weight. All interested parties should contact mgfmumbai@gmail.com.

A part-time translator job opportunity is also available. To view job description, click here

Sahiyo Volunteer Spotlight: Lubaina Plumber

Lubaina Plumber is a U.S. based volunteer who has been with Sahiyo for a year now. She was a human rights lawyer in Mumbai who just graduated from Washington University School of Law, St Louis with her Masters in Law. She plans to continue her education in the field of public policy and management to build a career and life in which she can effectively support every cause believes in. To learn more about how she has supported our work at Sahiyo, read her interview below.Photo 2

  1. When did you first get involved with Sahiyo?

I got in touch with Zehra Patwa, whose article I read a few years ago and she, in turn, put me in touch with Mariya Taher. I spoke to Mariya about opportunities to work for the cause and began my journey, being involved with Sahiyo.

  1. What opportunities have you been involved with at Sahiyo?

I have written some articles, worked on a handbook and other material and actively participated on the Whatsapp group, set up the Instagram page, and try to do as much as time permits when the opportunity presents itself.

  1. How has your involvement impacted your life?

Working with an organization teaches one a lot about group involvement, support, and unity. Being involved with an organization that fights for a cause that is very personal for me, is like having a platform for your voice. Sahiyo has given me the gentle push and reminder to keep fighting for my cause, whether or not I see results immediately.

  1. What pieces of wisdom would you share with new volunteers or community members who are interested in supporting Sahiyo?

I am an advocate and fan of being involved with organizations that support the causes you believe in. Support is the best way of showing your concern and using your time wisely. I would say that people should be open-minded and not hesitate to raise questions — if there is something you don’t agree with, ask and you will receive answers. My personal experience has lead me to believe that Sahiyo respects their volunteers and their opinions as much as we do the cause and the fight for it.

Part-time Translator Job Opportunity in Mumbai

Looking for an individual willing to assist in translation between Gujarati and English, with a preference for those also able to speak Lisan al-Dawat, for the month of July in Mumbai and surrounding provinces.

Translator will be working closely with two student researchers from the University of North Carolina and Trinity College Dublin who will be conducting research on the Dawoodi Bohra community via interviews with different members of the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Familiarity with the community and culture of Dawoodi Bohras is strongly preferred, as ideally the translator would help the student researchers by helping coordinate interviews and acting as a liaison between community members and researchers.

Pay will start at ₹ 250 / hour, with an average of 10-15 hours per week of work available. Pay and hours very flexible.

To express interest or for further information, please email CV to: mgfmumbai@gmail.com

 

U.S. Muslim Leaders Stance on FGM/C (also known as Female Circumcision)

(Originally document can be found here. Republished with permission on 6/7/2017)

We, Muslim organizations, FGM/C Survivors, Islamic scholars, and leaders, strongly condemn the remarks made in the video of Imam Shaker El Sayed where he clearly distinguishes between Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) and female circumcision, and recommends  the performance of female circumcision on young girls “when needed” to prevent them from becoming “hyper-sexual”.  We commend Dar Al Hijrah on their response to these remarks condemning FGM/C.  To further clarify, FGM/C is the same as female circumcision.  When we refer to FGM/C, we are including female circumcision which falls within the definition of this practice. More than half a million women and girls living in the U.S are at risk of undergoing FGM/C both in the U.S. or abroad or have already undergone the procedure, including 169,000 girls under the age of 18, creating a clear urgency for action.  The following presents our stance on the issue of FGM/C:

  1. FGM/C includes all forms of excision of the female genitalia. FGM/C is known as female circumcision, but they are the same practice.  There is no reference to FGM/C in the Holy Quran and the practice is against Islamic doctrine. 
  2. According to the World Health Organization guidance from 2016, FGM/C has no health benefits and serves no medical purpose.  All forms of FGM/C can cause lifelong physical, psychological and spiritual harm to the young girls forced to endure this.  Because FGM/C causes harm, it is prohibited under Islam.  Examples include:
    • Physical harm: This includes health complications such as severe pain: excessive bleeding: general infections;  urinary tract infections; wound healing problems; injury to surrounding genital tissue; menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.); sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.); increased risk of childbirth complications; the recurring  need for additional surgeries; and death
    • Psychological harm: This includes mental illness diagnoses of depression, anxiety, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder/ low self-esteem
    • Spiritual harm: This includes tension on one’s spiritual relationship with God and with one self; detachment from the spiritually-ordained sexual self; strain of physical and mental harm on one’s spiritual connection; feeling ostracized from one’s community as a result of feeling unworthy and ashamed
  1. Islam is a religion rooted in social justice.  Arguing that FGM/C is recommended to curb the sexuality or so-called “hyper-sexuality” in females is wrong.  Islam supports the sexual health of both males and females, and controlling female sexuality is a form of patriarchy, not Islam.
  1. We would like to reiterate that all forms of FGM/C are against the law in the United States. Federal Law makes it illegal to perform FGM/C in all its forms, including female circumcision on girls in the U.S  or to transport a girl out of the U.S to have FGM/C performed in another country. In addition, 25 states in the U.S, including the state of Virginia,  also have laws against FGM/C.

We would like to make clear that FGM/C  is a universally recognized human rights abuse.  It is a form of child abuse, sexual assault, and gender-based violence.

We, the undersigned, unequivocally stand against the practice of FGM/C. We cannot and will not stand for any leader who endorses human rights abuses antithetical to our beautiful faith.

We call on all Muslim organizations to provide sexual/ reproductive health education and sexual violence awareness trainings to ensure that leaders are well equipped to serve the needs of their community. Muslim organizations must provide access to both accurate information and support resources on FGM/C and create safe spaces where open conversations about FGM/C and sexual health can take place and FGM/C survivors can share their stories and have their voices heard without judgment.

Every one of us has a moral responsibility to work toward creating safer communities for our children. Support for this unjust practice under the guise of religion has gone on too long. Today, we invite you to join us in facilitating this change in the following ways:

  1. Speak up when you hear someone promoting FGM/C in the community
  2. Share information and raise awareness in mosques and other community centers
  3. Link up with other service providers to be up to date with latest policies, legislations and referral systems in your state
  4. Be visible and engage at various inter generational, multi-sectoral forums
  5. Make a commitment to educating yourself,  your families , and your communities on sexual & reproductive health and sexual violence in general, and reach out to social workers, and other expert organizations when necessary

Organizations that are equipped to facilitate these activities and conversations are: Dahlia Project, Face of Defiance, Safe Hands for Girls, Global Campaign to End FGM, Sahiyo, WeSpeakOut, HEART Women & Girls, and RAHMA. These organizations can be reached at:

Sahiyo – info@sahiyo.com

WeSpeakOut – info@wespeakout.org

HEART – info@heartwomenandgirls.org

Global Campaign to End FGM – Naimah@globalmediacampaign.com 

RAHMA – info@haverahma.org

Dahlia Project – Leylatheraphy@hotmail.co.uk

Face of Defiance – Leylatheraphy@hotmail.co.uk

Safe Hands for Girls – info@safehandsforgirls.org

DAH statement:

1- The harmful practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is prohibited in Islam as well as the laws of the land.

2- We at Dar Al-Hijrah, DO NOT condone, promote, or support any practice of FGM.

3- The reference to “Hyper-sexuality” is offensive and it is unequivocally rejected. The Board of Directors is particularly disturbed by such comments.

4- We call upon the Muslim Scholars (clergy) to be on the forefront of the campaign against FGM and to condemn silence in the face of these harmful practices.

5- We at Dar Al-Hijrah, are committed to continue sensitivity training of our staff regarding these critical issues.

The Imam of Dar Al-Hijrah, Sh. Shaker Elsayed, in response to his recent statements reaffirms that, “FGM is very harmful to women’s health, and anything in Islam that is harmful is in fact prohibited”.  He also advises the community to seek their doctors counsel to inform them why it is illegal and harmful. He follows that his reference to “hyper-sexuality” is an observation that he admits he should have avoided. He declares, “I take it back, and I do apologize to all those who are offended by it”.

You may refer to Imam Shaker’s statement below.


Statement of clarification
By Imam Shaker Elsayed

On May 19th, 2017, I gave a lecture about the rights of children in Islam at Dar Al-Hijrah. The lecture was aired live online and was later posted on our YouTube channel. The part in which I talked about children’s circumcision created a lot of misunderstanding, specifically regarding girls. I would like to clarify the following:

  1. I specifically said in the lecture that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is considered by Islam to be a very harmful to women’s sexual health. And in Islam anything harmful is prohibited. Therefore, Islam agrees completely with the legal prohibition of FGM, and hence the laws of USA. That is why I referred the audience to their OBGYN to inform them why it is illegal and harmful.
  2. Islam would never support anything that harms anybody’s well-being, such as FGM. As such, this is my position and the position of Dar Al-Hijrah. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Let there be no harm upon yourself or others.”
  3. Regarding the statement I made on “Hyper-sexuality”, I admit that I should have avoided it. I hereby take it back. And I do apologize to all those who are offended by it. 

Signed By:

Imam Mohamed Magid, All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center

Imam Johari Abdul- Malik, Director of Outreach, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center

Imam Suhaib Webb, SWISS

Imam Khalid Latif, Executive Director, The Islamic Center at NYU

Imam Jamal Rahman, Interfaith Community Sanctuary, WA

Khadijah Abdullah, RAHMA

Zehra Patwa, WeSpeakOut

Farzana Doctor, WeSpeakOut

Alifya Sulemanji, WeSpeakOut

Mariya Taher, Sahiyo

Leyla Hussein, Dahlia Project

Jaha Mapenzi Dukureh, Safe Hands for Girls

Sister Linda Sarsour, New York, NY

Safia Abulaila, Resident in Counseling, VA.

Ilana Alazzeh, Muslims Against Homophobia

Salam Al-Marayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Laila Al-Marayati, Muslim Women’s League

Eman Hassaballa Aly, Collaboryst

Shahed Amanullah, Affinis Labs

Dr. Saman Hamidi-Azar, Orange County, CA

Yasmine Badaoui, Miss Muslim

Alejandro Beutel, Washington, DC

Maha Elgenaidi, Director, Islamic Networks Group (ING)

Seemi Ghazi, Lecturer in Classical Arabic, U. Of British Columbia, Vancouver Canada

Nadia Hassan, Young Leaders Institute

Khalil Ismail, Finding Peace Project

Ameena Jandali, Islamic Networks Group (ING)
Ghada Khan,
Washington, DC

Maryam Khan, Community Leader, Islamic Center of Connecticut in Windsor

Youssef Kromah, Do it for the Deen

Edina Lekovic, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Jenan Matari, Miss Muslim

Priscilla Martinez, Salam Mama

Dr. Karen McDonnell, Washington, DC

Nadiah Mohajir, HEART Women and Girls

Naeem Muhammad, Native Deen

Muhammad Oda, Muzbnb

Riham Osman, Muslim Public Affairs Council

Angela Peabody, Founder/Executive Director, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation

Tynan Power, Founder/Leader, Masjid Al-Inshirah

Sameera Qureshi, HEART Women and Girls

Asifa Quraishi-Landes, Madison, WI

Mariam Rauf, Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project

Hadi Shakuur, Muzbnb

Sis Sarah Smith, Pennsylvania, USA

Hanaa Soltan, Mideast Global Advisors

Hussain Turk, Esq., Los Angeles HIV Law & Policy Project

Asma Uddin, AltMuslimah

Despite backlash, Sahiyo will continue to work with the community

The World Health Organization (WHO)’s guidelines on the management of health complications from female genital mutilation/cutting states that the “involvement of health-care providers in performing FGM is likely to confer a sense of legitimacy on the practice and could give the impression that the procedure is good for women’s health, or at least that it is harmless.” Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening in India. It is difficult to rationalize how a medical professional who has taken a Hippocratic Oath to “…abstain from all intentional wrongdoing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free,” can promote khatna in India.

In one part of the world doctors from our community are tried for violating the laws of their country (United States and Australia), and then we have doctors in India who are using the argument of religious freedom to advocate for a practice that is performed for non-medical reasons on a non-consenting minor girl. We have seen letters issued by various jamaats across the world, who use the hadeeth: حُبُّ الْوَطَنِ مِنَ الإِيمَانِ (Hubbul-Watan Min al-Eemaan), which translates to “Love of one’s homeland (country) is from faith”, to denounce the practice. Contrary to this, we have supporters of khatna, in India, who wish to continue with the archaic custom, despite the Indian government taking a stand and stating laws, the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act, against the practice. These are inconsistencies and we question them.

Opposition to khatna is not at all unexpected. We had anticipated it, at some level, looked forward to being able to engage in a healthy exchange of views on a democratic platform. Unfortunately, in the last week, the premise of the opposition we have heard is based on half-truths. The fact that such strong opposition exists shows that our efforts to engage the community have led people to discuss the matter and question the practice. Sahiyo will continue to work with the community to bring an end to the practice in a proactive way.

We add that that this practice is not only continued by Dawoodi Bohras. There are those from other South Asian communities who have spoken out against it too. Sahiyo focuses on engaging these communities, as well,  but clearly, the largest group Sahiyo continues to engage is the Dawoodi Bohra community. We draw strength from knowing the high levels of education of women within the Dawoodi Bohras and are very hopeful that with a healthy dialogue we can re-evaluate this practice in the present day and come up with a solution that is in the best interests of all children and women.

Last but not least, we would like to say that Sahiyo is saddened to be a target of deliberate slander, especially when the messages being passed around on WhatsApp and other social media platforms are blatantly untrue. To clarify a few doubts – Sahiyo has not started a petition addressed to the Syedna and we have not filed the PIL to ban khatna in India, either. We are only trying to engage with the community to break the silence around a practice we see as a violation of child rights and human rights. We are trying to ensure that the community is able to take an informed view on a rite of passage that can be, and sometimes is, harmful to children.

We have always welcomed healthy discussion and now, more than ever, we think it is critical to be able to engage in a mature conversation on the subject. This is what we are trying to do through our advocacy campaign, Each One Reach One 2 that has been jointly launched with WeSpeakOut this Ramzan. The campaign will create means of effective communication to discuss the subject of khatna amongst various stakeholders. We hope that our brothers and sisters are able to use these and debate the issue to be able to understand the long-term and short-term pros and cons of this practice, rather than let emotion and religion alone influence their decision-making.

Announcing Each One Reach One 2: Let’s discuss Khatna this Ramzan

EACH ONE REACH ONE 2:
Taking the conversation forward….
Ramzan 2017
A campaign by Sahiyo and We Speak Out

In this holy month of Ramzan, we invite you to participate in Each One Reach One 2, the second edition of a global campaign to promote conversations around Khatna among Bohras.

Last year, in February 2016, Sahiyo and Speak Out on FGM (now We Speak Out) launched the first edition of Each One Reach One, a campaign to help break the silence around the practice of Khatna, Khafz or Female Genital Cutting (FGC) in the Bohra community. For one month, we encouraged each one of you to have a conversation about Khatna with at least one other Bohra — a friendly, respectful, non-judgmental conversation that would help us all understand one another.

A year down the line, we can say with confidence that the silence around Khatna has definitely been broken. The recent arrests of Bohra doctors in the United States have encouraged debate and introspection, both within and beyond the community. There is greater visibility in the media regarding FGC among Bohras. Legal efforts at ending this practice have led to a call for consultations from the Women and Child Development Ministry in India. Although we have achieved last year’s objective of starting a conversation around Khatna, there is a lot more work to be done.

Today is the first day of Each One Reach One 2, our month-long outreach campaign that coincides with Ramzan. This campaign calls upon everyone, especially Bohra women and men, to reach out to at least one other Bohra to engage in a meaningful discussion around Khatna. Our focus this year is to move the conversation forward, by exploring ways to respectfully and sensitively engage in discussions with our family, friends and the wider community.

As you have seen through reactions to our work on social media, we are still received by many within our community with hostility and contempt. It is important for us to continue to respond to criticism with love and tolerance. Sahiyo and We Speak Out have been accused of shouting over Bohra women’s voices. We want to remind our community that we provide a platform to those who have been silenced, so that everyone who wants to speak has an opportunity to share their story. We hope to connect, not divide; to engage, not shut out; to listen, not mute; to reach out, not polarise; and to love, not hate.

Our campaign for EORO 2 focuses on guiding you to have meaningful conversations in various scenarios within and outside your families. Through our communication guides, we will suggest open-ended questions that you may ask your loved ones in order to engage in a sensitive discussion. As usual, we will also complement these guides with the relevant facts around Khatna. We encourage Bohras within India and abroad to participate in our campaign. Do continue to watch this space over the next month as we publish our guides.

To begin with, you can read our basic guide to effective conversations by clicking here.

Our conversation guide is informed by the concept of “Pro-Voice”, a word coined by the founders of abortion-rights group Exhale. Being Pro-Voice is about listening to one another’s stories with empathy, without an agenda or judgement. Learn more about Pro-Voice through this TED talk.

We would like to wish each one of you a blessed Ramzan full of fasting, prayer, forgiveness and charity. In keeping with the spirit of this sacred month, we encourage you to listen with love, speak with kindness, think without anger, and love without judgment.

As you participate in Each One Reach One 2, feel free to reach out to us at info@sahiyo.com or info@wespeakout.org to share your experiences, questions, perspectives and feedback.