During the hearing of a PIL against the tradition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among Dawoodi Bohra Muslim women, the Supreme Court bench said this practice cannot be constitutional because it “is engaged in solely to make a woman more appealing to her husband”, Live Law reported
The bench added, “Why should a lady make such efforts? Is she chattel? Or has she been subjugated so much that the only purpose of her being is to please her husband?”
The apex court bench, headed by CJI Dipak Misra and comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and AM Khanwilkar, observed that this practice violates Article 21 and Article 15 of the Constitution. The Article guarantees protection of life and personal liberty and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
“One has supreme authority over genitalia…it is central to one’s identity, dignity and autonomy…,” added Justice Chandrachud to the argument.
"Several countries like England and Australia have abolished it by statute. Pursuant to which this community residing in those countries has denounced the practice by their own ‘Anjumans’," - Indira Jaisingh
Senior advocate Indira Jaising pleaded the case against female circumcision. She said that it is an offence under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. “Something which the law has declared illegal and criminal cannot come under essential practice of religion,” she said.
She went on to name the countries that have banned the act. “Several countries like England and Australia have abolished it by statute. Pursuant to which, this community residing in those countries has denounced the practice by their own ‘Anjumans’,” she said.
Members of the Dawoodi Bohra community want the SC to allow them to continue with their practice. In a chat with SheThePeople.TV, a Dawoodi Bohra Muslim woman said that women conduct this procedure for cleansing as it is one of the key tenets of their religion. Belonging to the Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom collective, she said that it is a small nick on the clitoral hood. "We don't not believe in mutilation," she added.
Picture credit- Youtube