Our new partnership with Sahiyo!

Thursday 21 July 2016

We are excited to announce our new partnership with Sahiyo, an organisation with the mission to empower Dawoodi Bohra and other Asian communities to end FGC and create positive social change through dialogue, education and collaboration based on community involvement.

Orchid Project will support Sahiyo to work to end female genital cutting (FGC) in the Dawoodi Bohra community in India, Pakistan and the diaspora.

Sahiyo began more than two years ago as a conversation between five women who felt strongly about the ritual of female genital cutting (khatna) in the Dawoodi Bohra community, a Muslim community headquartered in Mumbai, India with diaspora communities globally. Bohras practice Type 1 FGC which is defined by the World Health Organization as complete or partial removal of the clitoral hood and/or the clitoris. Among the Bohra, it is typically performed when a girl is between 6 and 9 years of age and is passed down from mother to daughter.

Sahiyo’s founding group includes a social worker, a researcher, two filmmakers and a journalist, all of whom had already been speaking out, in their own ways, against the practice of khatna. As collaboration grew, Sahiyo’s founders realised the need for an organised, informed forum within the community that could help drive a movement to bring an end to khatna. That is how Sahiyo, the organisation, was born.

One of Sahiyo’s first goals was to break the silence shrouding the continuation of the practice. In July 2015, Sahiyo launched an exploratory online survey to understand the purpose, extent and impact of khatna among Bohras. Preliminary results indicated that:

  • Close to 80% of respondents stated that khatna was performed on them
  • Of these, around 50% stated that they were scared, and 20% said they were angry immediately after the cutting
  • 64% stated they were not aware of what exactly was cut in their genital area
  • 31% felt that khatna has affected their adult sex life; of these, 80% reported that their sex life has been affected adversely.

Prior to the survey results, Orchid Project and Sahiyo had been mutually supporting each other to raise awareness about the practice amongst the Dawoodi Bohra locally, nationally and internationally.  Survey results showed a definite need for community awareness and engagement programs to bring the subject of FGC out of the realm of secrecy and promote discussions about its adverse effects; Orchid Project and Sahiyo decided to partner in order to enable this to happen.

In order to ensure the sustainability of Sahiyo’s work, Orchid Project will act as an incubator for Sahiyo. Over the next 6 months:

  • Sahiyo will be set-up, roles determined and Sahiyo’s 3-year strategic plan developed
  • Sahiyo’s storytelling platform will be strengthened through communications and outreach
  • Sahiyo will engage in meetings with NGOs in India and consultants in the FGC field, planning field survey on FGC in India
  • Sahiyo will organise and facilitate a workshop with health professionals working in Mumbai
  • Orchid Project and Sahiyo will contribute to the Wallace Global Fund Donor Working Group & Civil Society FGM/C summit in December 2016