Thursday, December 4, 2014

Meet Our GEMS: Zubeda Hamid

Breaking the Silence
by Meera Srikant

Zubeda Hamid is a correspondent with The Hindu covering health and disability rights. She shares in her own words why she wanted to be a part of the Prajnya Campaign.

Why is this issue important to you?

This issue of FGM is important to me primarily because it is largely unknown. The silence around it allows it to continue, as it has, for years together. I think it is important to break that silence by initiating discussions and creating awareness about the fact that it happens in order to support those who are already trying to stop it and to hopefully put pressure on religious leaders to ban it.

What is it you feel most strongly about?

I feel strongly about it because FGM is a violation of a child's body. It is inflicted upon girls in an attempt to control their sexuality -- to keep them 'within their limits' so to speak. The fact that it happens in a well educated, prosperous community says something about how we, as a society, continue to feel the need to keep women in their place -- either in a misplaced desire to 'protect' them or because it is thought to be -- or men think it is -- better for them. No child's body should be mutilated in this manner. The scars, both physical and mental can last for years.

Tell us about your activity for Prajnya campaign and what you hope to do with it?

I wrote a blog post about FGM in India, looking at causes, consequences and placing the campaign against it in the context of a larger, global campaign. I'm hoping this creates dialogue and discussion about an issue that is largely hidden. I'm also hoping that if more people, both men and women, talk about this, some pressure will be created for this practice to be stopped.

Three things you would suggest to keep these individual actions going.

I think the issue of FGM needs more visibility. A documentary made recently helped draw some attention towards it. Getting college students, especially film students interested in looking at issues of gender violence could be one step. Helping support online and other campaigns could be another. Portraying certain issues as narratives that could reach out to a lot more people may also help.

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