Several women from the Dawoodi Bohra community have come together to launch a campaign this week seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to declare Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) illegal.
The online campaign under the banner of WeSpeakOut was kickstarted on November 19, World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse. Since India doesn’t have an anti-FGM legislation, unlike many countries where the practice is just as prevalent, the letter requests that the government at least issue advisories to state governments, and to the Bohra Syednas, declaring FGM an offence under the existing IPC and POCSO provisions. IPC Sections 319 to 326 deal with punitive measures for causing hurt and grievous hurt of varying degree. FGM also fits the definition of sexual assault on a child under POCSO.
The issue was earlier taken up by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development, which promised to ban the practice. But following silence from the ministry, the campaign has now been started. “FGM is a form of sexual violence that has deep emotional, sexual and physical consequences, with many of the consequences continuing throughout an adult woman’s life. It is time to end this harmful practice that causes pain and suffering to women and girls,” the letter states.
Masooma Ranalvi, one of the women at the forefront of the movement said, “We request the PM to issue a statement, aimed at the state governments and the Syedna himself, stating that this practice is illegal so that it comes to an end.”