Speak Out on FGM drafts a legal framework for an anti-FGM law in India with the Lawyers' Collective

This paper was written by Indira Jaising and the team from the Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative and Masooma Ranalvi of Speak Out on FGM, in 2016-17 and was published in March 2017.

It argues that FGM/C, because of its specific nature and consequences, is a violation of human rights of women and children. Specifically, it infringes on the right to life and physical integrity, the right to health and the right to freedom from torture, cruel and unusual treatment, and violence, and since FGM/C is mostly practiced on girls below the age of 18 years, it is also a violation of rights enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It clarifies that FGM/C in India, as carried out by the Bohra community, falls into the Type I and IV category as identified by WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF (defined as the removal of the prepuce with or without the removal of part or whole of the clitoris, and all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization).

This paper recommends a broader definition, for the purpose of defining the offence in the legislation: “It is recommended that the definition as provided in the joint statement by WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF be adopted and FGM/C be defined as “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. This definition should, however, specifically exclude any necessary surgical procedure for the purpose of the girl’s physical or mental health, or any post‑partum procedure performed by a registered medical practitioner.”

It outlines the situation of FGM/C internationally: “Despite the global and national efforts to promote abandonment of the practice, FGM/C remains widespread in different parts of the world.

Over 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM/C. The practice is most common in 30 countries across Africa and in some countries in Asia (particularly the Middle East) and Latin America and among migrants from these areas. An online survey carried out amongst Bohra women by Sahiyo, an NGO, suggests that 80% of the 400 respondents have been through the process of khatna.”

Some of the short term and long-term negative health and psychological impacts include:

“excessive bleeding, swelling and inflammation in the genital area, infection, urinary problems and in some extreme cases, even death. The long term consequences include chronic genital infections, recurring urinary tract infections, painful sexual intercourse, complications during pregnancy, labour and delivery of the child, perinatal risks and debilitating psychological consequences like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression…FGM/C, unlike male circumcision does not have beneficial health effects.”

The paper also lists way to use India’s existing legal framework to create an FGM/C ban. Some of these include Sections 319-326, which address varying degrees of hurt and grievous hurt. Further, Section 3 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, The Goa Children’s Act, 2003, the National Policy for Children, and Integrated Child Protection Scheme could be used to ban FGM/C.

 

Read the full report here>

 

 

Masooma Ranalvi (left) and Indira Jaising presenting the legal document.

 

WeSpeakOut: For Women's Rights