Speak Out On FGM, a group of FGM survivors, and Lawyers Collective, a human rights NGO, have together published a legal report titled Female Genital Mutilation – A Guide to Eliminating the Practice of FGM in India.
In a press release today, it also welcomed the recent statement made by Union Women & Child Development (WCD ) Minister – Maneka Gandhi , who addressed the custom of FGM as a criminal offence. She also said that if the community practicing the same does not bring an end to it, the government will make it a law to ban the practice. The guide details a comprehensive road map to curbing and eliminating the practice of FGM in India and what are the steps and provisions that could be incorporated in a law banning FGM.
Explaining about the Report, Masooma Ranalvi, Convener Speak out on FGM, said, “The recent case in the USA against three Bohras for performing FGM on multiple girls has hit home the point that FGM is secretly and silently being perpetuated. A law against the practice of FGM will serve as a strong deterrent in the otherwise law abiding Bohra community. Through this report we present a road map of what exactly are the steps we can take to effectively curb and eliminate FGM in India. A law along with administrative measures of promoting awareness, sensitizing the community on the subject and grass roots campaigning for social reform will help us eventually root out the practice of FGM.”
On May 8, the Supreme Court sought response from the Centre and four states on a PIL seeking ban on female genital cutting, which is mainly practiced by Dawoodi Bohras, a Shia Muslim sect. It is also practiced by other Bohra sects including Sulemani and Alvi Bohras.
Elucidating this, Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, stated “every act or practice must stand the scrutiny of the Constitution of India and we demonstrate it to be non-discriminatory. FGM is not only illegal as this report demonstrates but is also unconstitutional as it disproportionately impacts the girl child. It is also prohibited by International conventions to which India is a signatory.”
Khatna or FGM is strongly & openly protested by several youth & women group from the Dawoodi Bohra community in India.
The report goes on to talk about international and national laws with respect to the violation of the fundamental rights of children and women, and recommends effective interventions which the Indian state can incorporate. As of today over 200 million women are affected by FGM which is prevalent in 30 countries across the world.
Importantly, the report recommends is measures to prevent the practice. These include providing a helpline and conducting awareness programs in schools. “Ward committees, Panchayats and civil society groups should coordinate with each other effectively to sensitize the Bohra community and conduct safety audits. Further, specific duty may be cast on the religious/community leaders to carry out such awareness generation programs,” the report reads.
In a recent press statement issued from the office of Dawoodi Bohra leader Taher Fakhruddin, it condemns & states “FGM is an un-Islamic & horrific practice”.
Another group SAHIYO, which also works against the practice of FGM in India too welcomed the recent statement by Maneka Gandhi.
Consulting Editor – UdaipurTimes (Mumbai)