Need a law to end female genital mutilation, advocates study | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Need a law to end female genital mutilation, advocates study

MUMBAI CITY NEWS: The paper ‘Guide to eliminating the FGM practice in India’ explains why the practice violates human rights and suggests legal measures to end the custom

mumbai Updated: May 29, 2017 09:17 IST
Manoj R Nair
The term FGM refers to partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reason.
The term FGM refers to partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reason.(HT)

A new law is needed to end female genital mutilation (FGM), according to a report.

The paper ‘Guide to eliminating the FGM practice in India’, brought out by Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising of the Lawyers Collective, New Delhi, and the group Speak out on FGM, explains why the practice violates human rights and suggests legal measures to end the custom.

Masooma Ranalvi, convenor of Speak out on FGM said the document will be submitted to the ministry of women and child development. “We will meet Maneka Gandhi (women and child development minister). This is a blue print of what the law (against FGM) in India should look like,” said Ranalvi.

The term FGM refers to partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reason. While it is mainly carried out on children, adult and married women are also subjected to the procedure, according to the report. In India, the Bohras follow the custom. The practice is banned in nearly 20 countries, but India does not have a law specifically banning it.

Sunita Tiwari, a New Delhi lawyer, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking the ban. The court has issued notices to the central government and Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan — which have large Bohra communities — and Delhi, asking for their response to the petition. Speak out on FGM will join the petition by filing an intervention application. Meher Dev of Lawyers Collective said their report would be part of the intervention application. “They will rely on the report as it has suggested remedies,” said Dev.

Perpetrators of FGM can be prosecuted for causing hurt under the Indian Penal Code and child abuse laws, but in the absence of a specific mention of FGM in law, the practice goes unnoticed, the paper reads.

“It has also been seen, internationally, that it has proved necessary to have a specific law dealing with the subject,” the report says.

Religious leaders have defended the practice as a religious obligation, comparing it to male circumcision. But the report says that FGM adversely affects women’ health and is aimed at primarily controlling women’s sexuality and subordinating their role in society.

Bohra women recently formed ‘Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom’ to protect the practice. Members of the group were not available for a comment, but their under-construction website says

: We speak for ourselves and will not have anyone speak in our name. A Public Interest Litigation has currently been filed in the Supreme Court against our right to Khafz (FGM). Joining the group gives you the power to challenge it’.

Key recommendations made in the paper

Adoption of definition of FGC by WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF which describes it as ‘all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’. The definition should exclude any necessary surgical procedure for the purpose of the girl’s physical or mental health, or any post-partum procedure performed by a registered medical practitioner.

‘Front line professionals’ such as teachers, doctors, social workers and the Amils (local religious leaders) should report to the police in case any girl is under the threat of FGM or is a victim

An FGM victim (as she could be a minor during the procedure) should get at least three years of time after the incident to file a complaint against offenders

The government and the religious/community leaders should take steps to prevent the practice and create awareness about it.

Parents should be the first category of perpetrators to be held accountable. ‘Traditional cutters’ or medical professionals who carry out the procedure should be in the next category of perpetrators

Propagation, glorification of the practice should be an offence. Counselling, aiding and abetting the procedure should also be penalised

Accredited NGOs should be appointed to record incidents of FGM and start legal action in the cases

Provisions in Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002 to take disciplinary action against medical practitioners carrying out FGM.