In Focus

FGM is violative of human rights

The Supreme Court bench comprising CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud heard today the PIL challenging the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) observed by Dawoodi Bohra muslim community in India. The plea said that FGM is performed "illegally upon girls (between five years and before she attains puberty)" and is against the "UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which is India is a signatory". It further stated that the practice caused "permanent disfiguration to the body of a girl child".

In the previous hearings, the bench was informed on 31 July 2018 by Senior Counsel Shyam Divan that the Dawoodi Bohra practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in India was illegal. He cited various reports of the UN that advocate for the banning of the practice.

According to Mr Diwan the report states that "FGM violates well established human rights principles such as right to life, rights of a child, right to live a torture free life, etc. FGM creates a cultural pressure upon the parents. The practice of FGM is a gross violation of human rights.” He added that the General Assembly has passed a resolution eliminating FGM. He quoted other reports and said that FGM harms a woman's body and is detrimental to their development. He further said that the practice of FGM amounts to an offence under the POCSO Act that punishes any kind of penetration with any kind of object in a woman's vagina.

On the other end, counsel for the Dawoodi Bohra community Abhishek Manu Singhvi said "FGM done in Bohra community is different from the one that is done in Africa. In Africa it is female circumcision. It is a barbaric act.” He counted the various merits of female circumcision citing the 30% of global population that follows Islam and the practice of circumcision. He said that in the West even non-Muslim women get clitoral hood surgeries done to which Justice Chandrachud retorted that it is done with their consent. The counsel added that out of the seven pillars to follow of Dawoodi Bohra community, female circumcision is one of them and it is a sign of purity.

After hearing all the arguments from both sides, the case was referred to a larger bench for consideration.