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Women wear a long, colorful tunic down to their ankles, and a scarf over their hair.
Indian Dawoodi Bohra women are seen here in Mumbai, India.
The Dawoodi Bohras are an affluent trading community of about a million people concentrated mostly in Mumbai, but also seen across the United States and Europe.
In the winding lanes of a Bohra neighborhood, observant men are distinguished by white and gold embroidered caps and beards.
The slender doctor, who was circumcised as a child, defends what is widely known as female genital mutilation within her small, prosperous Dawoodi Bohra community in India'They always say it's just a nick and a touch, but there are incidents where things have gone horribly wrong,' says Masooma Ranalvi, who broke the silence around female genital mutilation in her community last year with a series of online petitions that sought to ban it.
Ranalvi remembers when she was 7, her grandmother promised her candy and ice cream.
At least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of female genital cutting, according to the United Nations — 70 million more than in 2014 because of increases in both population and reporting. Faced with this prospect, experts in the respected international Journal of Medical Ethics in February proposed permitting small female genital cuts that 'uphold cultural and religious traditions without sacrificing the health and wellbeing of girls and young women.' But this approach is already carried out in the Bohra community and is proving highly controversial.
Sameena's mother, Bilqis, poses for a photograph in Mumbai, India.
But she adds: 'I have no doubt in my mind that it is not helpful. If I had a young daughter now there's no way I would have her circumcised.'Sameena, 22, a member of the Indian Dawoodi Bohra community, is gradually coming to terms with the knowledge that she was circumcised at seven.She is currently living her dream of being a graduate student at an Ivy League school in America The struggle within Bilqis and her Dawoodi Bohra community reflects a growing debate over the best way to address a custom that is proving stubbornly hard to eradicate. predicts the number of victims will increase significantly over the next 15 years because of population growth.