Dear Govt: On This Day of the Girl Child, Please Act Against FGM
(This article has been republished from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of National Girl Child Day, It was first published on 11 October 2017.)
On 11 October 2017 – International Day of the Girl Child – ‘WeSpeakOut’ a collective of women survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM) urges PM Modi to spare a thought for the hundreds of girls in India from the Bohra community and some communities in Kerala which practise FGM known as khatna/khafz in order to control their sexuality.
FGM is a human rights violation. It is an act of violence against the girl child and is a form of sexual abuse. It is performed on girls aged 5-7 years. According to the World Health Organisation, FGM has no medical benefits and only causes physical, psycho- sexual and mental trauma.
India is a signatory of the UN resolution calling for an end to FGM worldwide. India is also committed to the Sustainable Developmental Goal of end FGM by 2030.
In May this year, the Union Women and Child Development (WCD) minister Maneka Gandhi told Hindustan Times.
FGM should currently be punishable under Section 320 (causing grievous hurt), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 325 (punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt).
We will write to respective state governments and Syedna, the Bohra high priest, shortly to issue an edict to community members to give up FGM voluntarily as it is a crime under Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, 2012. If the Syedna does not respond then we will bring in a law to ban the practice in India.Maneka Gandhi
But unfortunately, since May, the government has remained silent and the practice of FGM continues amongst Bohras and amongst some communities in Kerala as well.
It is time the government extend its Beti Bachao slogan and campaign to our girls and daughters as well and takes effective steps to curb FGM.
(Masooma Ranalvi is Convenor, Speak Out On FGM)