Round table on eliminating Female Genital Mutilation or Khafz in India by 2030

Around 25 representatives from the global anti-Female Genital Mutilation Movement and UN agencies recently came together to discuss the actions needed to eliminate this harmful practice by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, at a round table organised by WeSpeakOut and Equality Now in India, according to a statement issued by PR Newswire.

In India, 25 representatives from the global anti-FGM movement, and UN agencies recently came together to discuss the actions needed to eliminate this harmful practice by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, at a round table organised by WeSpeakOut and Equality Now.

Female Genital Mutilation

The act of FGM is perfromed in India among the Dawoodi Bohra community prevalent and among few Sunni Muslim sects. As such, India has not enacted any separate law against FGM. It was at an ongoing public interest litigation seeking a ban on FGM, the Supreme Court observed that the practice is a clear violation of a woman’s bodily inegrity as laid down in the Indian Constitution.

Dawoodi Bohra Community

The practice of FGM among the Dawoodi Bohra community, known in the local parlance as Khafz is shrouded in secrecy till 2015, when the first known anti FGM/Khafz case against a Bora religious leader and two others went to trial in Australia. As early as April 2017, a Michigan-based medical practitioner from Dawoodi Bohra community was arrested and charged, along with two others, for performing FGM, noted the statement. Apparently, this is the first time in the US anyone has faced prosecution under the Federal FGM Law, said the report.

Joint Statement

During the roundtable, a joint statement read: “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.”

Emphasising on the need to protect the young girls, the joint statement observed that it is the Union Government’s responsibility to make sure that the instances such as FGM or Khafz are taken seriously and those involved in it are prosecuted, under the existing criminal laws. What is more, the Indian legal system should include the WHO’s full definition of FGM (Including Khafz) and introduce a separate law banning the practice.

Equality Now is an international human rights organisation that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world.

Awareness Campaigns

The participants of the round table suggested that the Government must create more awareness on the negative impacts of FGM, specifically asking doctors to refrain from performing it and prioritising preventive measures. The Indian Medical Association has since issued a statement against FGM.

Masoom Ranalvi, Founder of WeSpeakOut said, “”Although sharing my story helped act as a catalyst, what is happening is about much more than my personal experience. We are living in a time where women have really found their voices. Centerstaging this much secret and hidden issue through personal narratives has helped us garner support for our campaign.”

Shelby Quast, Regional Director (Americas), Equality Now said, “The key to addressing the practice is to reframe the issue as a child protection and human rights issue, rather than a religious one.”

Political Will

Political will is a must, if the measures against FGM is to be successfully implemented. With respect to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent meeting with Dawoodi Bohra religious leaders, the Union Government must show urgency in tackling this issue by officially condemning the act and beginning discussions with religious leaders to end FGM. Equality Now is an international human rights organisation that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world (equalitynow.org/india_fgm). WeSpeakOut strives to work for equal rights of Dawoodi Bohra women in all spheres of life by amplifying the voices of Bohra women (wespeakout.org/about/our-mission/). For Media Contact:
Holly Cooper, 201990@email4pr.com, 212-586-0906 x 16 and for knowing more about Equality Now, visit equalitynow.org.