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A Pinch of Skin: A documentary that attempts to lift the silence on female genital mutilation

DNA, India, by Anam Rizvi, 11.5.2014.

The documentary A Pinch of Skin, an attempt to lift silence on this stifled memory, brings together voices of women who suffered the practice. Like millions of other little girls, this one too is being subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) with a view to suppressing her sexual urges later on in life. The painful process leaves an indelible mark on mind and body and the reasons given are many. […]

“I knew nothing until I got to the place where it was to happen. I was told nothing. My mother then told me that they would scrape off a bit of skin. She said nothing would happen. I was very scared,” says Aarefa Johari, a writer at Scroll.in. A member of the Dawoodi Bohra community, Aarefa has chosen not to follow religious practices. “I’ve heard of a few cases where a small lunch party is organised for the girl where her friends are invited after the event,” she says.[…]

FGM might be an age-old practice that is part of local traditions in several African countries and is practised in the western world as well, but it’s largely a hush-hush subject, particularly in India. Men seem to be unaware that their own daughters and sisters are undergoing the cut.

“People fear ostracism in the community and thus FGM is not discussed at all. Even girls don’t discuss it among themselves,” says Aarefa.

“Unlike other countries where the subject of female genital circumcision is highly debated, India and Indian laws have failed to recognise the operation of this practice within the national boundaries,” says Sanya Seth in her dissertation Female Genital Circumcision: A Study of Dawoodi Bohra Muslims in India, which she wrote while a student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

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