Female genital mutilation: Maneka Gandhi to write to Bohra head to stop practice

While the NDA government has been vocal about its stance on outlawing triple talaq, sources said it is expected to tread more cautiously on female genital mutilation.

Written by Shalini Nair | New Delhi | Published:June 2, 2017 2:52 am
 Female genital mutilation, Maneka Gandhi, Maneka Gandhi on Female genital mutilation Ministry of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi (File) 

Instead of bringing any legislation banning female genital mutilation, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has decided to use provisions in existing laws to crack down on the practice mainly prevalent in the Dawoodi Bohra community. Minister Maneka Gandhi will write to the Syedna, the spiritual leader of the community, asking him to enforce a ban on the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) as it is illegal.

Maneka told The Indian Express that the ministry had drafted an advisory listing provisions under the IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act under which the practice is illegal. “We drafted the advisory after we received representations from women of the community who are victims themselves, seeking our help in abolishing the practice. I will be sending a letter along with a copy of the advisory to the Syedna requesting him to step in so as to ensure a ban on FGM. It is best when change is initiated from within the community,” she said.

While the NDA government has been vocal about its stance on outlawing triple talaq, sources said it is expected to tread more cautiously on female genital mutilation. This is because Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys a very strong support from the Syedna and in the community, both in India and in the diaspora.

As per the advisory, perpetrators — including parents of the girl child — can be punished with imprisonment of one year to life, depending on the gravity of the offence. The genital mutilation procedure is done on girls at the age of seven years. India is home to about half a million Dawoodi Bohras, a Shia sub-sect of traders hailing from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, with large numbers settled in the UK, US, East African countries, Australia and Pakistan.

The advisory, which will be attached with the letter to the Syedna, states that parents of the child as well as practitioners who perform the khatna can be punished under Sections 321 to 326 of the IPC dealing with voluntarily causing hurt or grievous hurt. It also lists POCSO Act Sections 3 (penetrative sexual assault), 5 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault) and 9 (aggravated sexual assault) which entail imprisonment of up to life term. “We will also be sending the advisory to all state chief secretaries, health secretaries and home secretaries to ensure its enforceability,” said an official.

In 2016, in response to arrests and trial in a case in Australia, the Bohra clergy in several countries issued letters to the community seeking a stop to the practice. The ministry hopes the Syedna will issue similar orders in India.

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  1. K
    Kaiser
    Jun 2, 2017 at 7:41 pm
    I am a long term activist, father and uncle who stopped FGM in my family against threats of excommunication and refusal of Bohra priests to conduct Marriages without FGM when my nephew was marrying a Hindu girl , FGM is sanctioned in scriptures written by Sa na mother and drummed into Madrassa teaching, championed by Amil and his wife insisting to remain a Bohra one has to FGM. Orthodox women claiming religious rights ignore rights of children or moderate families. Instead cal us not one of us. i will stop this ins utionalised child abuse in the west and India. As Christian church was held accountable for child abuse. Dawaat will be brought to account. If you har or bully Sahiyo, we will protect them using international sovereign pressure naming and shaming. We may be few but we are clinical in protecting the innocent. Sa na hunts elephants and corrupts African presidents yet he preaches religious rights , follow Quran 1st then sunnah.
    Reply
    1. B
      BOLD
      Jun 3, 2017 at 12:25 pm
      Dear kaisar, I support you to follow religion according to an individual will and wish. I suggest u to convert to any religion whichever u wish to according to ur wish and flexibity. Just leave your religion and follow another one whichever u wish, as it seems that you r forced to follow this religion which presently u r following , no one will stop u for doing so. Just leave ur religion.
      Reply
    2. K
      Kaiser
      Jun 2, 2017 at 6:19 pm
      I am a long term activist, father and uncle who stopped FGM in my family against threats of excommunication and refusal of Bohra priests to conduct Marriages without FGM when my nephew was marrying a Hindu girl , FGM is sanctioned in scriptures written by Sa na mother and drummed into Madrassa teaching, championed by so called Amil and his wife insisting to remain a Bohra one has to FGM. Orthodox women claiming rights ignore rights of children or liberal or moderate families. Instead cal the not one of us. I swear by Allah i will stop this ins utionalised child abuse in the west and India. Like the Christian church was held accountable for child abuse. Dawaat will be brought to account. If you har or bully Sahiyo, we will protect them using international sovereign pressure naming and shaming. We may be few but we are clinical in protecting the innocent. Sa na hunts elephants and corrupts African presidents yet he preaches religious rights , follow Quran 1st then sunnah
      Reply
      1. T
        Tasneem H Merchant
        Jun 2, 2017 at 5:08 pm
        It is our request to you and all concerned members to please refrain from hurting our religious sentiments by giving way to such defamatory individuals by making public their statements who will stop at nothing to satisfy their baseless accusations against our 1400 years old traditions, beliefs and faith. They in fact have no allegiance to us, our community or any of our traditions, culture and religious practices. Regards, Tasneem H Merchant Housewife Mumbai
        Reply
        1. T
          Tasneem H Merchant
          Jun 2, 2017 at 5:06 pm
          We understand that some women claiming to be from amongst us and acting on our behalf have stated that our practice of khafz is equivalent of FGM and must be banned by law. This is a clear attempt to mislead the press and the rest of the world by such women claiming to be one of us and acting on our behalf on the w . May I draw your attention to 2 points in this regards: a. The starc difference in reality from what they claim to be the ill effects of our religious practice of khafz and the social pressures on our women and as stated by me in point 2 above. b. In this regards, we, the mainstream women members of the community protest against these false claims. We are the true followers of the 53rd Dai al Mutlaq His Holiness S na Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS.
          Reply
          1. T
            Tasneem H Merchant
            Jun 2, 2017 at 5:03 pm
            The fact that in some other communities around the world, they indulge in FGM has no bearing or resemblance to our community as our practice is NOT and must be kept separate from the FGM issue.
            Reply
            1. T
              Tasneem H Merchant
              Jun 2, 2017 at 5:00 pm
              Respected Minister Ms. hi, Our practice of khafz has been in place since 1400 years and our mothers, sisters, g mothers and great g mothers have been undergoing this practice. Has there been any record of them having any ual or other ill effects as are found evident in FGM? None. On the contrary, they were found bearing multiple healthy children - of which we are living proof. It might be noteworthy that our women literacy rate is amongst the highest in comparison to other communities due to the emphatic stress on educating women by our Maula - His Holiness S na Mufaddal Saifuddin T.U.S., the late His Holiness S na Mohammed Burhanuddin R.A. and their predecessors. When you educate a woman, you educate an entire house, an entire society and the nation.
              Reply
              1. T
                Tasneem H Merchant
                Jun 2, 2017 at 4:48 pm
                Respected Minister Ms. hi, Our religious practice of khafz (cir cission in women) is in no way connected to what you and the rest of the world know as FGM. This has already been stated by our lady doctors. It is surprising that the Medical fraternity will not listen to what is being said by their own members and continue harping on their story to the point of threatening action on them, which is de able and against our democratic rights.
                Reply
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