To Prevent FGM, Punish Parents Who Let It Happen: NGO Report
“...A separate law to curb this (FGM) would be best under the circumstances.”
So said a new report filed by Speak Out On FGM – a group of FGM survivors – and Lawyers Collective – a human rights NGO. The report, titled ‘Female Genital Mutilation – A Guide to Eliminating the Practice of FGM in India’ has advocated ways to “Recognise, Act Against and Stop the Heinous Practice”.
Here’s what Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate of Supreme Court said:
And here’s what Masooma Ranalvi, Convenor, Speak Out on FGM, had to say:
The report comes just days after Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, said:
The report seems to agree, as it stresses that,
“While existing laws like the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO can deal with FGM, there would be need for amendments and definition of FGM would have to be included. Also other provisions for relief, rehabilitation and protection are needed, hence a separate law to curb this act would be best under the circumstances.”
Here are some important takeaways from the report that you need to know:
- The detailed report is 57 pages long and was prepared for over 6 months.
- It not only explores the physical and psychological trauma to the girl child, but also the social aspect – how opposing the practice makes many in the community fear ostracism.
- It recommends that the definition of FGM – as provided in the joint statement by WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF, which is comprehensive and covers all the types of FGM practised by different communities across the world – be adopted: “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.”
- It recommends a time period of three years within which one can report an incident of FGM.
- Since it is primarily the parents within the Bohra community who take their daughters to ‘cutters’, they should be the first category of perpetrators who may be held accountable and penalised, followed by ‘traditional cutters’ or, in some cases, ‘medical professionals’.
- It recommends measures to prevent the practice – which include providing a helpline and conducting awareness programmes in schools.
When The Quint reached out to Masooma about the report and what she expects to be the next course of action, here’s what she had to say:
The Bohra community is clearly divided on the issue of FGM. But today there are large numbers of men and women who agree with our views on FGM – and even though they may not openly support us, they are silently very happy that the Maneka Gandhi has taken such a positive stand against FGM and has strongly condemned the practice. With the support of the government, the need is to create an awareness in the community of the ill-effects of FGM and the fact that it violates the rights of a girl child.
Masooma also expressed hope that the “Syedna saab will issue directives asking Bohras not to practise khatna –similar to the resolutions in the Western countries asking Bohras not to practise khatna as it violates the laws of the land there.”