Letters: Other views on FGM, schools

The Detroit News

Female genital mutilation is heinous

We are all survivors of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) who take issue with last week's letter ("Dawoodi Bohra women of Detroit speak up," Dec. 13). Some of us grew up in the Dawoodi Bohra tradition such as yourselves, others are from Christian communities, animist communities, and a variety of faiths. Some of us were born in the United States and others have migrated here from other countries, and now call the United States our home.

We all challenge the harmful practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and recognize it to be a form of gender-based violence and harm to a child. We understand that it is called female circumcision or khafz/khatna in the Dawoodi Bohra community, but the bottom line is that anything to do with cutting the genitals of girls falls under the World Health Organization definition of female genital mutilation.

The authors write: "We, as survivors, have had our human rights violated in that our sexual organs are altered due to misguided beliefs of controlling sexuality."

We, as survivors, have had our human rights violated, our bodily autonomy taken away, and been punished for our femininity, in that our sexual organs are altered due to misguided beliefs of controlling sexuality.

We ask that as survivors, you listen to each and every one of our stories, and stop dismissing the voices of women from your own community who have shared their experiences for no other reason than to inform you that khafz/khatna has hurt them -- whether that be through emotional, physical, or sexual pain.

As survivors, we recognize that each woman who has undergone FGM/C experiences it differently. If you have not suffered the harm in the way that we have, you are fortunate. The issue remains, however, that each one of us has been held down and/or drugged so a blade could be taken to our genitals and a part of us could be sliced away when we were little girls -- too young to give consent and fully realize the implication of the decision someone else made for our bodies.

Stop harming little girls in the name of tradition, culture, and religion. We all deserve to grow up fully intact with our bodily integrity. We believe that a future where FGM/C no longer occurs to young girls can become a reality in our lifetime, but we need you to acknowledge our pain, and prevent it from happening again.

A. Renee Bergstrom, Ed.D.

Farrah Dalal

Farhat Rangwalla

Umme Kulsoom Arif

Aisha Yusuf

Maryah Haidery

Durriyah Khorakiwala, PhD

Maryum Saifee

Severina Lemachokoti

Dr. Nafees Saifee, M.D.

Sarah Rangwala

Aissata Camara

Alifya Sulemanji

Rashida Rangwala

Naima Dido

Habiba Dida

Zehra Patwa

Mariya Taher, MSW, MFA

Leena Khandwala


Letter grades not needed for schools

The recent lame duck decision by the Michigan House of Representatives to pass legislation requiring schools to receive A-F letter grades is disheartening.

The constant changes created by an endless stream of politically motivated legislation have caused serious, long term damage to Michigan’s public schools.

In fact, assigning letter grades to schools to get them to improve or to inform parents is short sighted at best, because it does nothing to fix the problem, which is the lack of support for our children, especially those in poverty. All of our children desperately need help if they are truly going to be our future. Flunking 3rd graders if they cannot read without providing the necessary support is disingenuous and dangerous. .

The notion that giving a letter grade is somehow going to incentivize schools to do better, is frankly laughable. When children come to school hungry, with no school supplies, without a good night’s sleep, and are terribly distracted by social media, naturally, many of them are going to do poorly in school.

With poverty in Michigan at near record numbers, the amount of resources it is going to take to help students improve in school is enormous.

In fact, a recent statewide equity and adequacy study showed that Michigan’s system for funding schools is broken, and if we truly want the hard-working women and men who teach and collectively serve our children to make a difference, we should not grade their schools but rather support, honor, and lift them up.

All things considered, neither schools nor parents need a letter grade to help them. They need real support along with the majority in the Michigan Senate during next week’s lame duck session to have the courage to stop constantly changing the rules.

Robert D. Livernois, Superintendent

Warren Consolidated Schools