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Aarefa Johari: How many women in India know what a clitoris is?
Truth Bombs Episode 3
Why do some communities believe that cutting part of a women’s genitals is essential for ‘purity’? In this episode of Truth Bombs, we talk to Aarefa Johari, a journalist and a campaigner against female genital cutting to understand how women and girls face pain and trauma due to such notions.
What is Female Genital Cutting?
FGC is a cultural norm in many countries where a layer of tissue from a woman’s genitals is removed. This practice of circumcision involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes it a violation of the rights of girls and women.
Aarefa Johari, who hails from the Dawoodi Bohra community of Gujarat, began questioning this ritual as a teenager, and subsequently, co-founded a collective called Sahiyo with other women from the community; Sahiyo aims to get the community to question this practice of female genital cutting which it follows and believes that such change has to come from within the community, even though laws against it can help.
In this episode of Truth Bombs, as a survivor herself, Aarefa discusses the physical and psychological trauma that FGC has on women.
She emphasizes that FGC is not an Islamic practice, but rather, a community norm that is used to curb female sexual desire under the garb of spiritual purity. This is yet another form of the many patriarchal practices around that globe that oppress women. It is different from male circumcision in that the latter is not aimed at curbing a man’s sexual desires.
In her work as a journalist, Aarefa writes about gender, communities, human rights, culture, politics, and human development.
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