Union Government states that FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz is a crime under Indian law and WeSpeakOut's intervention plea admitted by Supreme Court

A statement by our founder, Masooma Ranalvi:

 

In a significant step forward for the anti FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz movement in India, the Union Ministry for Women and Child Development has, in its counter affidavit to the Supreme Court, asked the highest court of the land to declare FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz a crime and a punishable, cognisable offence.

 

WeSpeakOut, the collective of women survivors campaigning for an end to FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz in India, welcome the Indian Government’s stand in its counter affidavit as a vindication of their stand that this practice is a crime against basic human rights and the constitutional rights of women and girls.

 

The Government in its counter affidavit clearly states that “FGM is a penal offence under the following sections of IPC 319.320.322.323.324.325.326 and sections 3.4.5.9 of the Protection of Children from Sexual offences.

 

The practice of Khafz, defined by the World Health Organization as Type I Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), is extremely secretive and very few people outside of the community are even aware of its existence. It is precisely for these reasons of silence and secrecy that official data on FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz has been non-existent. However, a large number of women are involved in anti-FGM/C campaigns and have gone public with their personal stories and narratives of the practice itself and the harm it has caused them.

 

In February 2018, WeSpeakOut released the first ever qualitative research study conducted by Lakshmi Anantnarayan, Shabana Diler and Natasha Menon on the practice of Khafz.  They collated testimonies of a cross section of women about their FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz experience and have documented the physical, psychological and psychosexual impact on their lives.

 

It has been very difficult for survivors to speak out against this clandestine community practice. Anti-FGM/C activists have been facing opposition and backlash from some members of the community but we have steadfastly campaigned to bring about awareness and have created a strong public movement.

 

In May 2017, Minister of Women and Child Development (WCD) Maneka Gandhi, in a media interview, acknowledged our campaign and had stated that formal advisories would be issued to various state governments to end the practice. However, since then, the government has maintained silence on our demands to end FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz in India.

 

Finally, on 20th April, 2018, the Ministry filed an affidavit saying that FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz is a crime in India and that the Supreme Court should thus declare it a punishable offence.

 

It is a hugely significant moment in WeSpeakOut’s campaign that the Government has finally accepted that the practice of FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz is a crime under existing laws.

 

Three years ago, we had started a petition on Change.org as Speak Out on FGM, a group of women survivors of FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz asking the Government to ban the practice. Today, we are a full-fledged organisation called WeSpeakOut that has taken the movement against FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz in India forward. In addition, we have secured global support from organisations such as Equality Now and Amnesty International 

 

We do not have enough words to thank each and every one of you: anti-FGM/C activists, community members, and members of the public who have stood by us and inspired us to carry on this fight. Without you and your unflinching support we would not have been able to make such significant strides in this campaign.

 

The WeSpeakOut plea to interven in the PIL on FGM in the Supreme Court of India has been admitted and we will be able to make our submissions to the court in ths matter.

 

A very big THANK YOU to all our supporters and well-wishers!

 

Our battle continues until we eliminate FGM/C/Khatna/Khafz completely! There will be more to come and your continued support is very much appreciated!

 

Masooma

 

WeSpeakOut: For Women's Rights