Supreme Court questions the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) of minor girls among Dawoodi Bohra Muslims

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On the FGM, the apex court ruled that women don’t live only for marriage and husband

The Hush Post: The Supreme Court has questioned the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) of minor girls in the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community with an observation that a woman does not have to live her life only for a marriage and a husband.

A three-judge Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra ruled that subjugation of women to their husbands won’t pass the test of constitutionality and said such a practice was also violative of their right to privacy, a report said.

The Union Government had also supported the petition and said that it was opposed to any practice in the name of religion that “violates the integrity of (a woman’s) body part”.

The Dawoodi Bohra community, a Shia sub sect which practices FGM, usually names the ‘custom’ Khatna or Khafz, which involves the total or partial removal of the clitoral hood. In the name of the practice, young girls aged six and seven are cut up regularly by midwives and doctors, the report said.

It is done to suppress their sexual urges as 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 ensure women they don’t stray out of their marriages, it was reported.

The Supreme Court Bench, which had Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud too, ruled that the practice cannot continue only because women need to get married. “A women may have several other obligations too,” the Bench said.

Appearing for a Muslim group, senior advocate AM Singhvi had said during an earlier hearing that the matter be referred to a constitution bench as it pertained to the issue of essential practice of the religion which needed to be examined.

He had said that the practice of female genital mutilation was a religious and customary practice and the courts should not intervene in this area.

Appearing on behalf of the Centre, Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal, had said that the practice causes irreparable harm to girl children and needed to be banned. He had also told the bench that countries like the USA, the United Kingdom, Australia and around 27 African countries have banned this practice, the report said.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered Kerala and Telangana to be made parties to a PIL that has challenged the practice. It ordered that states like Kerala and Telangana, where Bohra Muslim community resides, should also be made parties to the litigation and issued notice to them as well. State of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Union Territory Delhi are already party to the case, the report said.

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