Apex court supports female genital mutilation (FGM) ban

Supreme Court

The practice of female genital mutilation is prevalent among the Shia sect’s Dawoodi Bohra religious community

The Hush Post: The Supreme Court of India has indicated that it was opposed to the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) or circumcision. The apex court gave this indication on Monday as the Centre is already seeking a ban on FGM.

The Supreme Court indicated on Monday that one can use the religious practices to touch a woman’s body and violate the integrity of her body part. The practice of female genital mutilation or “khatna” is a practice prevalent among the Shia sect’s Dawoodi Bohra religious community. This practice is an age-old tradition in this community to mark the arrival of womanhood, a report said.

Appearing on behalf of the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal told a Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A. Khanwilkar and D Chandrachud that the government was in favour of a ban on religious practices that force girl child to undergo genital mutilation or circumcision, the report said.

Justice Chandrachud who authored the “right to privacy” judgment orally observed, “Why should anyone have the authority to touch the female’s genitals. He said, “no one can use religious practices to touch a female’s body and violate the integrity of her body part,” it was reported.

On being pointed out that girls are subjected to “khatna” at a very young age, CJI Dipak Misra observed that such a thing, which is an offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, couldn’t be a matter of compulsion by anyone. Can such a practice be imposed on females, CJI Mishra asked?

AG Venugopal made his submission during the course of hearing of a petition filed by advocate Sunita Tihar seeking a ban on FMG as it is illegal. The AG while supporting the plea of the petitioner asked the top Court to ‘step in and issue directions’ on the practice of FMG, it was reported.

AG KK Venugopal said that Centre has filed a counter affidavit stating that the FMG is a crime with a punishment of seven years of imprisonment “under the existing laws don’t permit FGM and that the court can further clarify on the matter and issue guidelines. The AG also pointed out that the United Nations has deprecated this practice and FGM has been banned in USA, UK, Australia, Canada and 27 African countries and it should not be allowed to continue, the report said.

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