Leave Her Clit Alone

Gender

Leave Her Clit Alone

Illustration: Namaah

E

leven minutes into the documentary, a 40-something Bohra woman brought up the subject of men and khatna. “They are clueless that something like this happens in the community,” she says articulately, sitting on the sofa in her living room. The room is dark enough to conceal her identity. Natural light parading in through a distant window casts out her silhouette. “I am willing to bet,” she continues “…ten on ten men are like ‘What? Does it really happen?’”

We were watching A Pinch of Skin, a 30-minute film on Female Genital Mutilation (also Female Genital Cutting) practised by Dawoodi Bohras, the only community in India to do so; a practice they call khatna or khafz. Did men really not know, I began to wonder. Did my boyfriend not know? I wanted to dive straight into his mind, as he sat beside me at Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre. My boyfriend was a Bohra, and though we had discussed everything from elections and inflation to politics and pop culture, khatnasomehow, never really came up. That day, for the first time in our five-year relationship, I wondered if he really knew. If yes, what and how much? Had he never asked his mother or sisters or cousins if they had been cut? Did his brother, father, and male friends ever question khatna, its implications, or why it’s perpetuated in the first place? My mind was exploding with questions. But I had no idea what was going through his head, as he watched women from his community recount their experiences of being cut as little girls.

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