New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday announced that it has accepted the petition seeking a ban on female genital mutilation and scheduled the hearing on July 16. on the circumcision practice in the Bohra society of Muslims. Sunita Tiwari had filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the practice of halala and circumcision for women. Senior advocate Indira Jayasinhg is also lobbying for this case. The court has asked why the private parts of a woman’s body is being linked to religion?
What is Female Genital Mutilation?
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), or female circumcision, is a practice which involves cutting off the clitoral hood, or partial or total removal of the clitoris. FGM is practised by tribal communities in Africa, but is a prevalent practice in India’s metro cities as well. According to certain media reports, FGM is also performed by some literate communities in Kerala.
The Dawoodi Bohra community, a Shia sub sect which practices FGM, usually names the ‘custom’ Khatna or Khafz. They believe the clitoris to be an ‘immoral lump of skin’ or a ‘source of sin’ which needs to be cut off in order to ‘curb sexual desire in women’ so that they don’t stray out of their marriages, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
What the POSCO act say
The bench of Chief Justice of India Deepak Mishra Justice AM Khanvilkar and Justice D.V. Chandrachud Singh asserted, “That the POSCO Act is against such religious beliefs because even touching the female private parts of a minor girl is a crime.” During the litigation senior advocate, Indira Jaisingh said that a girl who is circumcised lives with the trauma throughout her life.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s defence
Appearing in the court on behalf of the Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association for Religious Freedom, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the practice of khafdh and circumcision has been going on for thousands of years in Islam. During the process, a very small part of the girl’s genital is cut, which is not harmful. He argued that this is a tradition very much similar to Muslim men.
Circumcision of women should be banned
During the hearing, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said on this issue that men have certain advantages from circumcision of their private parts. For instance, it decreases the risk of HIV transmission, but circumcision for women should be banned in every situation, because of the worse consequences it has on the woman. He also said that it is totally prohibited in 27 countries of the United States, Britain, France and Africa.