Breakthrough partnered with Sahiyo to collect stories from women in the Dawoodi Bohra and other Asian communities who have been affected by female genital cutting (FGC) or khatna. The partnership between Breakthrough and Sahiyo emerged out of their shared belief in the power of storytelling to engender dialogue and community, and shift deeply entrenched cultural norms around gender. Sahiyo and Breakthrough teamed up to show the connections between FGC and other forms of gender-based violence by exposing how rigid gender norms and ideas around female sexuality and consent, amongst others, support and enable a culture where violence is normalized.
The stories are written by people from around the world, including Pakistan, India, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. They illustrate the specific trauma and nuance engendered by the practice of FGC, and simultaneously address more universal themes of family violence, repressed memory, and gender identity. Somber yet hopeful, these stories break the silence and work as powerful and disruptive acts of survival and protest.
Sahiyo is an international organization that aims to empower Dawoodi Bohra and other Asian communities to eradicate FGC. Sahiyo, which means ‘friend’ in Bohra Gujarati, uses an interdisciplinary approach to their advocacy of the end to khatna, relying heavily on storytelling as a means to educate others on the issue. Their work centers on the practice of FGC, but engages other issues of gender equality such as consent, a child’s/woman’s right over her own body female sexual empowerment.