FGC survivors share their stories to bring about change
A photo exhibition of seven survivors of female genital cutting (FGC) was released by Sahiyo, a non-governmental organisation that has been campaigning to end the practice, on Saturday.
As a part of the campaign, the stories of these survivors are being released online, with the first one already out on Sahiyo’s website. Insia Dariwala, filmmaker and founder of Sahiyo, said the idea behind the photo exhibition was to revive an online petition on change.org, which was started around two years ago.
“There was a similar petition that I had done for child sexual abuse. When it was backed by photos and stories of survivors, the Central government took cognisance of it and pitched for more severe punishment in cases of sexual assault against male children. Through this petition as well, we want the United Nations to know that it’s not only in Africa, but in Asian countries as well that the problem exists,” said Dariwala.
Sharing their stories, some of the survivors said they believe that it was easier to get men from the community convinced of the problems that women face after undergoing FGC. Lubaina Rangwala, architect, said that there are young mothers who are now taking a stance to not perform FGC on their daughters. “The conversations about FGC are now moving from the bedroom to the living room, wherein we have fathers, brothers and friends being involved. The more conversations we have about this topic, the more people will understand that the practice can leave emotional trauma on a girl’s mind,” said Rangwala.
FGC is a process which involves removal or cutting of skin from the clitoral hood of women, at the age of seven. It was believed that Bohras, a Shia Muslim group with roots in Gujarat, were the only community in India to practice khatna, as it is called locally. However, recent studies found that some Sunni communities in Kerala also practice FGC.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it has no known health benefits and the procedure may cause several immediate and long-term health consequences.