Female Genital Cutting is no longer a secret talked about behind closed doors nor is it one that countries can continue to ignore. Academics and Anti- Fgm activists in Iran has broken the silence.

 
Under the title “Razor and Tradition” the Sociology Faculty of Social Sciences at Tehran University organized a conference about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Iran on 11th of July 2015. 
The intention of the conference was to shed light on all aspects of FGM.
It was the first time that an official body connected to the government broke the silence about this issue in Iran and most of the official and important newspapers published speakers’ speeches in full details. The psychoanalyst Dr Nazi Akbary, sociologist Dr Ahmad Bokharayee and Rayehe Mozafarian, writer of the book “Razor and Tradition” and campaigner of Stop FGM Iran, spoke at the conference.
 
Dr Akbary first talked about the physiological and emotional affects on girls after experiencing Fgm. He then mentioned the problem of exclusion if girls are not circumcised: “Among my patients I saw a girl from Somalia who had been expelled for failing to do so. Also it was interesting for me that in my research that the men were reluctant to do so but women were more willing to circumcise their girls because they want to guarantee their daughters` future enabling them to choose the best man for marriage.”
 
Rayehe Mozafarian started her presentation with counting 11 seconds and drew the audience’s attention to the fact that every 11 seconds a girl is cut in the world. For the operation which damages women’s sexual organs there are three different terms valid by law: Female Genital Mutilation, Female Genital Cutting and Female Circumcision.
 
There are many countries who share no data or statistics with Unicef. South Africa is amongst those despite the fact that the Venda people openly practice FGM. Rayed Mozafarian asked the Iranian government to give all data and information and all statistical studies to UNICEF. There are 29 countries in the list of UNICEF but more than 10 countries do not add in this list yet and most of them are Middle Eastern countries where FGM is happening but because the respective governments do not accept to introduce themselves to UNICEF addition to this list is postponed and on the other hand more girls are more at risk. Iran’s government should accept this problem as common in Iran. Mozafarian concluded her speech by inviting the audiences to join to “Stop FGM Iran” reminding of the slogan of this campaign: “even one victim is too many”.

 

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In Cairo, Egypt a small group of women staged a play about their experience of Female Genital Cutting.

The gathering, part of an NGO-led project to educate Egyptians on the adverse effects of FGM, was organized by the Noon Theater Troupe in partnership with the UN Population Fund. The group organizes performances in areas where the practice is common.
Most efforts by anti FGM campaigners focuses on protecting the younger generation from going through this experience and offer little if any assistance for the millions who have already undergone the procedure.

Nada Sabet, the group’s artistic director, says that one of the issues is that most women who have had FGM do not enjoy intimate relations with their spouses.

“They didn’t have any sexual contact before circumcision [the procedure is performed on girls as young as eight] so there’s nothing to compare it to, so this idea that things could or should be pleasurable doesn’t exist,” she says.

In Egypt like in so many countries where the practice is prevalent, there is insufficient sex education among men and women. Young men will often say they want to be with a circumcised woman not really understanding what that means.

“I didn’t know what it was before,” says Ahmed Said, 24, before he began attending awareness-raising sessions at a local NGO in a village in Upper Egypt. He says that families sometimes stipulate that FGM is a condition for a prospective bride “to preserve the ‘decency’ of the woman.”

“In our society with our traditions we can’t talk about this subject. Men often don’t know much about it,” says Mohamed Fathy, a 25-year-old law student.

Ahmed says he is now against the practice “because it can create a lot of complications and difficulties in the marriage.”

Dr. Abdelhamid Attia is a Cairo-based gynecologist and became an advocate for FGM eradication 15 years ago. But prior to learning about it, he said that for years it did not occur to him to question it, though he would see its negative effects in his practice.

As shown by the campaigners in Egypt, Kenya, and other countries - when groups of people, both men and women come together to talk with honesty about what their experiences of Female Genital Cutting is, they educate each other - and Opens the Doors for Change.

 

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I Honour My Yoni
 
My Yoni is Divine
 
She is Pure
 
She is Pleasure
 
This Purity and Pleasure 
 
Is My Birth Right
 
Gifted To Me 
 
By Divine Mother
 
As I Offer Her My Love
 
Treasures Rise From Within The Depths Of My Being
 
Lighting Up My Life
 
Creating Miracles 
 
Here And Now.
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No matter whether you have chosen The Cut or it is part of your cultural tribal requirements - the Yoni/ Vagina calls to be healed. 
She lets you know when she has experienced trauma and she asks that you hear her voice.
She cries for the opportunity to be seen as part of ourselves and not as this ‘down there’ object that we can expose to all kinds of things while pretending that she is just perfect. The Yoni when wounded creates an unhappy and out of balance persona.
 
There is much in the news regarding Female Genital Cutting and it is difficult for those of us not living in tribal situations, to understand why women continue to choose the Cut. And that’s okay. Women who choose the cut must do as they choose. They have made an assessment of their situation and understand that to remain part of their tribe, they have to show their bravery and strength in undergoing this Cut. Whatever we who do not live within the laws of these communities think, that does not matter. She has made an informed choice and is exercising her freedom of choice. 
 
For the rest who feel Female Genital Cutting no longer serves them and brings only pain and trauma in their yonis, causing traumatic births and unbearable menses - this too is their freedom of choice to assert. They have made a different assessment of their situation and lives, and chooses to honour Rites of Passage in another way. A way that does not require any of their blood to be spilled upon the earth. 
 
Regardless of the debate around FGC, the Yoni is part of who we are. Most women have never even had a good look at their yoni’s. The most attention she receives is when she bleeds or when we are preparing her for sexual intercourse. Yet, She Calls. She calls for us to see, feel and know her. To acknowledge that she is not just an object for the pleasure of men nor is she just there to participate in the birth of children. But that she is a vital part of our being and her contribution to our lives is invaluable. She Calls for us to know that she is a Holy part of our Divine Being.
 
When we heal the pain and trauma within our yoni, on a physical, spiritual, mental and emotional level - we heal our genetic wounds. Our mothers and grandmothers receives the vibrations of our healing. Our Great Mother Earth receives the medicine of our healing. Our healing resonates beyond our feminine lineages into the cells of our fathers, husbands and sons. 
 
As I honour my Yoni, I come to know the Divine within me.
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The winds danced with us as she whipped up sea spray to join our celebrations. Fynbos flowers showered us with their scents and the mountains offered us their wisdom here where the land and the oceans meet. The Women of The Earth Gathering was under way. A Call for a Divine Gathering was headed and made manifest. It felt like the land and water, the central fire and air all offered their gifts gently to us all. We came to gather as women wishing to witness other women, as drummers, as artists and massage therapists. We came to dance as sisters and share our bounties with one another. We came to enjoy cups of tea and to sleep under the stars. We came to create spaces embodied in the feminine. We came for healing.

A few months earlier I participated in a gathering called Women Are Medicine, held in Cape Point, Cape Town. Cradled by rolling mountains covered in fynbos, we women gathered as birds of prey showed us flights of freedom. We were as diverse as the vegetation of the land. Our differences in colour and backgrounds coming together like this in Cape Town is still herstory in the making. We came together with awareness that we all bring something to the gathering. No hierarchy predicted how we should behave. We had an outline of what was possible throughout our days without any rigidity. We flowed, some of us with crayons and notepads, into and out of the spaces we wished to be in. We rested when it felt like that was what our bodies needed. We sat outside and breathed in the softness of earth beneath us while baboons groomed one another and carefully observed this extra ordinary flowering of the feminine spirit.
We listened to what being a women during these times means for each of us. How different the challenges we each face are. We cried and laughed as heartbreak and survival stories were woven together. We honoured the different stages of being woman. And we danced and held one another, touching heart to heart and womb to womb.

It is pure medicine to me when we as women choose to come together in this way. This way of the feminine, without force or hierarchy, when we look into one another's eyes and are able to offer support and care.

These womb spaces reminds me of times long gone, where we women could gather and share our offerings without fear. Without fear of what it could mean. The burning of women at the stakes a few decades ago have left imprints of fear and horror in our physche's. We don't want to be called witches for gathering together and enjoying ourselves.

These gatherings are here, calling us to bring what we have to offer. In these womb spaces we are the teachers to one another and the students of one another. We need not be told how to be. These spaces Call us to be however we are at the time and to bring it anyway. Womb spaces dare us to show up in all our feminine glory, to feel what its like to be all of ourselves again and to celebrate the divinity that is women.

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