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CGHR Open Discussion Group: Fighting Female Genital Cutting in India

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Nikta Daijavad.

This week’s CGHR salon marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Join us for a group discussion led by Reetika Subramanian who will introduce the topic and start a discussion about the anti-Khatna (a ritual of female genital cutting practiced in the Dawoodi Bohra community) movement in India.

When: Thursday, 9 February, 1-2pm Where: Alison Richard Building, Room 138

In 2011, a 400-signature petition against FGM snowballed into a full-blown movement with several young Bohri women coming forward to collectively challenge, speak out and create awareness about the ritual using social media activism, news media reports and global collaborations. These amplified debates have led to a rift in the community between those calling the practice a violation and others, who are defending it as an act of purity and reaffirmation of a common Bohra identity. Reetika’s research strives to examine any noticeable absences of voices and the role of men in these conversations. Do men essay the role of tradition carriers or is the whole practice a closely guarded secret of women? We will address this question and other related to the local understanding of Khatna and the idea of ‘sexual control’. What is the relationship between Khatna movement and the broader movements against cultural imperialism of violent experiences? Does the ‘tradition as invented by modernity’ discourse hold ground? Can the conversations on Khatna be defined beyond the western public debates of ‘male domination, mutilation and sexual control?

Suggested reading: 1. Reetika’s piece for Hindustan Times in India back in 2011, when the movement had just been launched:

2. Why some women choose to get circumcised (The Atlantic)

3. India’s Dark Secret: FGM

4. As more Indian women line up to get ‘designer vaginas’, some doctors ring ethical alarm bells

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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