‘Make female genital mutilation a separate offence under IPC’

A report prepared by a group called Speak Out on FGM, and an NGO,<i> </i>Lawyers Collective, explores the physical and psychological trauma female genital mutilation inflicts on girl child

Photo courtesy:  Speak out on FGM
Photo courtesy: Speak out on FGM


A group of lawyers and activists on Tuesday released a report on female genital mutilation (FGM) and demanded that it should be made a separate offence under the Indian Penal Code.

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 MutilationA Guide to Eliminating the Practice of FGM in India.

Prepared over six months, the 57-page report explores not only the physical and psychological trauma on the girl child due to FGM, but also how opposing the practice affects members of the community: many, for instance, fear being ostracised.

The report proposes that the only way to ensure complete elimination is a separate law. It also recommends measures to prevent the practice, including providing a helpline and conducting awareness programmes in schools.

The report, which recommends measures to prevent the practice, comes days after Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi reportedly indicated that she would take steps to curb the practice.

The World Health Organisation defines FGM—sometimes called female circumcision—as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to their genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The procedure is known to be carried out by members of the Dawoodi Bohra community and other Bohra sects including Sulemani and Alvi Bohras. “The parent, who is performing the act, the cutters and propagators (Amils) should be penalised,” said the report.

“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,” said Masooma Ranalvi, convener of Speak Out on FGM.

“A law along with administrative measures of promoting awareness, sensitising the community on the subject and grassroots campaigning for social reform will help us eventually root out the practice of FGM,” she added.

“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 which India has signed,” said Indira Jaising, senior Supreme Court advocate.

More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated. WHO said FGM, which is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

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