Voices Series: Why I still speak up about FGM/C

This blog is part of a series of reflective essays by participants of the Voices to End FGM/C workshops run by Sahiyo and StoryCenter. Through residential and online workshops on digital storytelling, Voices to End FGM/C enables those who have been affected by female genital mutilation/cutting to tell their stories through their own perspectives, in their own words.

By Zenab Banu

I am involved in the movement to end female genital cutting (FGC) since I came to understand its impact on my married life. We had discussed the problem in 1987 in an All World Bohra Women’s Conference which was organized by the Bohra Youth Girls’ Wing in Udaipur. Sadly, the resolution that passed was not followed up. But I continued speaking up. I feel FGC should end because the rights of personal choice of a girl child and her bodily integrity have been violated without much concern by the society.

I have also attended the second Activist Retreat organized by Sahiyo, which took place in Mumbai where participants from various parts of India attended the retreat. It was a very good experience in meeting like-minded people and having long discussions, as well as learning different perspectives and ways to end the practice.

Later, when I got the opportunity to be part of Global Voices to End FGM/C, a storytelling project by Sahiyo together with StoryCenter, I was very much excited to be part of it. I really enjoyed the process of writing, recording and creating visuals of my story, though a lot of memories were triggered during the process, and I became emotional. 

My overall experience of the workshop was good. But think it would be more exciting if we could meet in person with other participants, rather than doing it virtually.

I feel that the We Speak Out group and Sahiyo are doing great work in raising awareness on the issue. I hope the movement ignites awareness, consciousness and creates public opinion among society in general and women in particular.

With this hope I have joined Sahiyo’s campaign against FGC. I have shared my own story of cutting, and I hope that more women will come out and share their stories and support to end FGC.

Sahiyo blog post wins a Laadli Media Award

A Bohra woman’s personal essay about her experience of Female Genital Cutting, published on Sahiyo’s blog last year, has won the prestigious Laadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity 2015-16.

The essay, titled ‘It was a part of me…part of my womanhood‘, won the award for Best Blog in the ‘Web-blogs’ category in the eighth edition of the Western region Laadli Awards, which celebrate gender sensitive advertising and journalism in India. The award ceremony was held at Ahmedabad’s Gujarati Sahitya Parishad on February 23, with prominent dancer and artiste Mallika Sarabhai as the chief guest.

The winning essay describes the author’s memory of undergoing ‘Khatna’ and her struggle to come to terms with it. Read below the jury’s citation on her powerful narrative:

The blog is a powerful and vivid account of a woman’s memory of female genital cutting. She speaks about the secrecy of the practice as well as the young age at which it happens. This story is among a handful stories that carefully look at female genital cutting among the Dawoodi Bohra community in India.

This essay was among the first few accounts of Bohra women willing to share their stories on Sahiyo’s blog when it launched in December 2015. Sahiyo believes in the power of storytelling and this blog is a story-sharing platform for all those who feel passionately about khatna or FGC and who wish to see the practice end.

We would like to say a big thank you to Population First, the organiser of the Laadli Awards, for honouring Sahiyo’s blog contributor through this award!