Union Women and child development (WCD)minister Maneka Gandhi has reportedly imposed a caveat on Dawoodi Bohra community to voluntarily cease the practice of female genital mutilation else the government will step in and ban the practice.
“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,” Gandhi told HT.
She also added that there can be a possibility that the community is not aware of the specific provisions of law that makes FGM illegal and so, they decided to sensitise them about the provision in law.
“The 14th-century-old custom is tolerated even today, without enforcement of existing IPC provisions. Banning it will be a big step towards eradication of the practice,” – Shaheeda Tavawalla Kirtane
Dawoodi Bohras are a two-million strong business community residing mostly in western cities including Mumbai. Referred to as Khatna, the custom involves cutting off of clitoral hood in young girls. The objective of this heinous practice is to thwart a woman from expressing her sexual desires.
A lot of Bohra women have been clamouring against this practice. They even initiated an online petition “Speak Out on FGM” in 2015.The protest, however, gained momentum after Ministry of Women and Child Development and Supreme Court stepped in to solve the problem.
An umpteen NGOs are also trying their best to eradicate the insensitive practice.“The 14th-century-old custom is tolerated even today, without enforcement of existing IPC provisions. Banning it will be a big step towards eradication of the practice,” said Shaheeda Tavawalla Kirtane of women’s group Sahiyo.
FGM is a forbidden practice in 24 African countries. A lot of western countries including United Kingdom and US have also followed suit and banned the practice.