Though India does not have a separate law against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the Supreme Court of India amid an ongoing Public Interest Litigation seeking a ban on FGM, remarked that the practice is a clear violation of a woman’s bodily integrity as laid down in the Indian constitution.
Urging the Indian Legal System to include the World Health Organisation‘s full definition of FGM (including Khafz) and introduce a separate law banning the practice, 25 representatives from the global anti-FGM movement, and UN agencies recently came together with the argument that, “FGM is a violation of the human rights of women and girls, under both international law and the Indian Constitution. It has no health benefits, and in fact, often has both short-term and long-term health and psychological consequences.”
The participants discussed the actions needed to eliminate this harmful practice by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, at a roundtable organised by WeSpeakOut and Equality Now.
FGM among the Bohra community – where it is referred to as Khafz – was shrouded in secrecy until 2015, when the first-known anti-Khafz case against a Bohra religious leader and two others went to trial in Australia.
Highlighting the need for the protection of young girls, participants recommended the Government to create awareness on the negative impacts of FGM, specifically asking doctors to refrain from performing it and prioritising preventive measures. They further stated that it is the Indian Government’s responsibility to ensure instances of FGM/Khafz are prosecuted, under existing criminal laws.