Mumbai

Actors narrate stories of khatna survivors

Spreading awareness: Theatre personalities and actors highlighting the trauma of Dawoodi Bohra women at a programme on Friday.

Spreading awareness: Theatre personalities and actors highlighting the trauma of Dawoodi Bohra women at a programme on Friday.  

Mumbai: In an attempt to highlight and bring to life the mental and physical trauma Dawoodi Bohra women are subjected to with khatna, or genital cutting, theatre personalities and actors Dolly Thakore, Rasika Dugal, Sobhita Dhulipala, Plabita Borthakur, and others narrated their stories on stage on Friday.

Ms. Borthakur read the words of Samina, who has been consumed by guilt after putting her 10-year-old daughter through the trauma. “I was responsible for taking my daughter to be cut,” Ms. Borthakur read. “When she turned seven, everyone started asking me about her khatna, and said that I should get it done before it is too late.”

Samina, who asked that her last name not be used, is a resident of south Mumbai, was present at the event and visibly emotional.

“I wish I had asked questions back then, before putting my child in that situation,” she said. Ending the practice is not easy, she said, because no community would admit its practices and customs are wrong. “Let us stop it. Creating awareness is the most important thing to stop it.”

Fatema, who also asked that her last name be withheld, is now 19. She had been cut in a tiny room in a run-down building.

She was also at the event, where Ms. Duggal read her story: “My grandmother asked me to remove my pants. They made me lie down. The next thing I remember is a silver blade and I screamed in pain. It has left a psychological scar. You cannot just take a seven-year-old and cut off a piece of her body so slyly.”

The storytelling event in Andheri was organised by Sahiyo, a transnational collective working towards ending the practice in India and elsewhere in Asia. Sahiyo members have been instrumental in starting conversations with members of affected communities, and have been using the power of storytelling to increase their reach and impact.

“Women have suffered in silence,” says Insia Dariwala, co-founder of Sahiyo and a filmmaker. “That silence needs to be broken now. What we are looking for is that this ritual gets banned.”

Khatna, as practised among Dawoodi Bohras, involves cutting part of the clitoral hood, or the prepuce, of girls as young as seven years.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2020 5:06:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/actors-narrate-stories-of-khatna-survivors/article23275700.ece

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