Author: Srinidhi Raghavan

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Building a movement around Khatna

This is part 2 in a two-part series on FGM in India. Read Part 1 here.  Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or “Khatna”, as it is referred to in India, is practised secretly among the Bohra community. Over the past year, several women from the community have spoken up about the practice while encouraging other women from the community to speak up as well. I speak to Mariya Taher from Sahiyo, an organisation building a movement against Khatna on this issue and their work. “More than a year ago, five women who felt strongly about the ritual of female genital cutting within the Bohra community came together to fight this practise. Each one of us had been working on the topic for many years,” Mariya said. Mariya is a social worker, activist and writer who lives in the United States. The group includes a social worker, a researcher, two filmmakers and a journalist located in different parts of the world; and all of whom had already been speaking out against the practice of Khatna. “As our …

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Indian women speak out against FGM

This article is part 1 of a two-part series on FGM in India Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is traditionally known to be practised in 30 African countries. According to latest reports from international agencies like UNICEF, it is said that FGM has been done on at least 200 million girls. I recently interviewed Masooma Ranalvi who began a campaign to encourage Indian women from the Bohra community to speak up against the practice. The practice is called Khatna locally and is classified as Type 1 FGM by the WHO. It is estimated that there are nearly 1.5 million Bohras globally who have undergone FGM but numbers on how many have been cut are still unavailable. GG: I read about the campaign India Speaks Out on FGM through the article highlighting the petition in The Ladies Finger. Till I read this article, I had no idea that the practice existed in India. It is usually portrayed as an African issue. Your thoughts? MR: Yes that’s true. It is India’s best kept secret. There is a reason behind …

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The Diary of an Indian sex-educator

Her: “Is it possible for you to talk on menstruation and child sexual abuse to young girls?” Me: “Sure! What age are they?” Her: “Studying in Class 5 and 6.” Me: “Great! That shouldn’t be a problem.” Her: “There is one thing though, you can’t talk about sex.” Awkward silence followed. I had no choice but to agree. This was my first encounter with sex-ed. I had been working with a feminist organisation in Hyderabad for a year already. I was 24 years old. I trained on legal rights, human rights and legislations but had not started training on sex, sexuality or reproductive health, for that matter. Those were reserved for experienced trainers. The above conversation was merely an introduction to the long list of conditions sex educators must work with. To prepare for this class in a private school in a posh part of the city, I spent two weeks reading. I read about the human body. I studied how the parts looked. I read books for kids, for adults, for trainers, for teachers …

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Fighting the perfect shape

Growing up, I was extremely skinny. Though I met parts of the ideal body image, I was always asked a lot of questions about not eating enough. Ironically, I was a massive junk food and candy eater. Grass was greener on the other side and I ached to put on weight. At least to stop the inappropriate malnutrition questions being thrown at my mother. Puberty and certain lifestyle changes had a surprise waiting for me. I began to slowly but steadily put on weight. Surprise, surprise! I was extremely unhappy despite the fact that my wish had come true. Till I began to read and critically analyse body image, I was reduced to covering up the flab and dressing in loose fitted clothes. Finally giving in to the uneasy feelings, I wandered into a doctor’s office to get some clarity on the weight gain. Only to find out I had a health condition (Poly Cystic Ovaries Syndrome) that had certain correlations with weight gain. Body image is a huge problem across the world. Fat shaming …

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Best Moments for Women and Girls – Round-up of 2015

As 2015 comes to an end, it is important for us to take a closer look at the progress women’s rights and gender equality have made world over. There have obviously been some heart breaking lows like the recent Paris Agreement which says little on gender equality or how some Indian ministers perpetually provide unsolicited advice to women and men or looking at the sheer number of secular bloggers being murdered in Bangladesh. In an interview with @CatchNews, Alok Rawat, NCW’s male member, says the following things. #ThatsWhatTheySaid pic.twitter.com/tPgp2lJ382 — Feminism in India (@FeminismInIndia) November 20, 2015 Luckily, 2015 also included some great and noteworthy victories for gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights. Here are a few chosen moments of 2015 that will remind us how far we have come and how much further we have to go: 1. Female Genital Mutilation ban  Though the United Nations banned Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in 2012, many countries are yet to sign on and begin to ban it on their own lands. In 2015, many African …