Days after Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi vowed to end female genital mutilation (FGM), a report by NGO Lawyers’ Collective has recommended that parents whose daughters are subjected to the practice should be penalised. The report, A Guide to Eliminating FGM in India, was prepared by the NGO along with Speak Out on FGM, a combine of FGM survivors.
The report, conceptualised by Indira Jaising, former additional solicitor general, says: “Since within the Bohra community, it is primarily the parents who take their daughters to cutters for FGM/C, they should be the first category of perpetrators who may be held accountable. The procedure is primarily carried out by ‘traditional cutters’ or, in some cases, ‘medical professionals’, they should be the next category of perpetrators who may be held accountable. Further, since it is primarily under the encouragement / advice /guidance of the religious /community leaders that the procedure is carried out, their role should also not be negated. Propagation of this practice should also be recognised as an offence.”
The report argues that there are enough legal provisions in India to act against FGM, including the Indian Penal Code and the recently passed Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. However, it says, there is a need to amend laws to include FGM definitions. It recommends that the WHO definition be adopted for the purpose. Releasing the report along with Masooma Ranalwi of Speak Out on FGM, Jaising said: “Every act or practice must stand the scrutiny of the Constitution of India and we demonstrate it to be non-discriminatory. FGM is not only illegal, as this report demonstrates, but is also unconstitutional as it disproportionately impacts the girl child. It is also prohibited by International conventions which India has signed.”