by Naina Bhargava 7 July 2020
Female genital mutilation is commonly known as FGM. It is a barbaric practice that includes all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to female genitalia organs for nonmedical reasons. Recently it set the system in motion and an eye opener for the ministry of women and child development. The issue is an uprising in India from time immemorial. The Dawoodi Bhora community practices it as “khafz” or khatna and other Sunni Muslims, but the issue had seen the light when different countries started criminalizing this practice, which becomes an alarming incident for human rights advocates and various organizations, which lead to a new movement of revolution in a country. The issue raised by several advocates by filling PIL in the supreme court to ban this abhorrent practice of FGM in India.
The violent practice against women and children affects the women across the borders to constitute a global anti-female genital mutilation movement . 25 representatives from global movement and UN agencies met in India discussing the elimination of harmful practice by 2030, in line with SDG at a roundtable organized by wespeakout and equality now where they demanded legislation to ban this practice.
The legislation is considered to be an essential tool towards the practice of FGM to eradicate it. despite there are some provisions from Indian penal code such as section 320, 322, 324, 335, 336, 338 and 340 though
FGM is not explicitly an offense under the IPC, on a complaint, the police are obligated to register a case under section 326 of the IPC that provides penalties of imprisonment and fines for’ voluntarily causing hurt’ and ‘voluntarily causing grievous hurt.’ FGM, which requires the insertion of a sharp object into the vagina of a child, maybe covered under Section 3, POCSO act read with explanation 1 of section 375 IPC where IPC categorically states but without proper definition that the term vagina includes labia majora.
While the practice of carrying out FGM may qualify as a form of “hurt or grievous hurt'” under the IPC and a crime under Section 3 of the POSCO act being carried out with an instrument used for cutting and may be addressed under the existing laws of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence, addressing this practice requires a more holistic approach. However, there is no general law that criminalizes FGM and deals with the propagation, preparation, and support of the FGM with the proper legal definition for word FGM and terms like the clitoris, labia major, and labia minor. Meanwhile, these practice is against the fundamental right of article 14 and 21 of the constitution of India which violates the series of human rights principles along with the principles of equality and non – discrimination based on same-sex, right to life, freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or rights or rights of children. These are basic fundamental right which every person is entitled to enjoy.
Twelve developed countries with sustainable FGM where practicing population have passed laws criminalizing the practice while in few countries laws were made to ban and criminalize FGM by medical practitioners and people who deliberately contribute in this practice are practiced by monetary trials. However, these new laws would not be helpful for all girls and ensure their safety-changing law will not practice. Changing the law will only challenge the social and religious norms that incite a blash but will not outlaw the practice until it goes underground. Along with institutional legislation framework and a constant urge for debate will play a social role in promoting and supporting social changes, human rights, and the rule of law, and it will help to think to question the need for implications. Laws must be made to crush the social exile and remove the patriarchal control over women’s bodies sanctioned by the impregnable outline of religion.
Laws can do what years of activism cannot. A bhora clergyman was sentenced for violating Australian law against FGM, then 17 resolutions passed by a clergy aimed at Bohras living in western countries where FGM is banned. They were not allowed to perform khafz . Recently, the news of Sudan announcing a new law to criminalize FGM practice is like a sigh of relief. The new law was passed on May 1 which criminalizes the offense with a jail sentence up to 3 years. In Sudan, 87% of girls undergo those barbarous practices FGM with type 3 as the most performed kind of FGM .This new law is welcome news ad serves as an inspiration for activists across the globe where FGM still a menace for women and girls. Salma Ismail, a spokeswoman in Khartoum for the United Nations Children’s Fund, said, “The law will help protect girls from this barbaric practice and enable them to live in dignity… And it will help mothers who didn’t want to cut their girls, but felt they had no choice, but to let it happen.”
About the author : Naina Bhargava is a philosophy and political science student at Miranda House University of Delhi and Senior Managing Editor at Sociolegal literary