Ruchi Kumar in Undark:
Arefa Johari was 7 years old when she was taken by her mother to a decrepit building in the back alleys of Bhendi Bazaar, an old market area in Mumbai. The overcrowded bazaar is largely populated by members of the Dawoodi Bohra community, a minority Shia Muslim group that accounts for around 2 million of India’s population of well over 1 billion people.
Once inside, the mother and daughter were greeted by an old woman. “My mother had told me before we went there that something would happen to me down there but I don’t remember thinking it was anything to worry” about, she recalls, “and so I did not panic at first.”
The woman took Johari and lifted her frock while her mother held her down on a mattress on the floor; minutes later her clitoral hood had been cut, in accordance with the ancient tradition of khafz, or female genital cutting (FGC). “I was in a lot of pain and I remember crying inconsolably,” says Johari, a journalist and an anti-FGC activist who is now 34 years old.