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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Why Bodily Integrity Should Be Violated And Compromised: SC On Practice Of Female Genital Mutilation

  • IWB Post
  •  July 10, 2018

According to the World Health Organisation, female genital mutilation adversely affects a woman’s health, often leading to repeated infections, cysts, infertility, childbirth complications and many more difficulties. And even then there are some communities in India, like the Bohra Muslim community, where this practice is prevalent.

The Bohras believe that ‘khatna’ (female genital mutilation) makes women lead a life of fidelity as the practice involves cutting off the clitoral head, generally done at a young age by midwives that too under unhygienic conditions.

On Monday, the Supreme Court said that not only does the practice violate the privacy of women but also compromise with their bodily integrity. The hearing took place in response to the PILs filed by an advocate and two by Bohra women, who had demanded a law to be constituted against female circumcision. They said that it violated child rights of Bohra Muslim girls and also the circumcision causes pain during menstruation and sexual intercourse, loss of libido and pain during urination.

“Our genitals are as private as any other body. Why anybody should be allowed to touch the genital of a human being? Why bodily integrity should be violated and compromised?” asked justice D Y Chandrachud, a member of the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra. They titled female genital mutilation as a crime under POCSO —Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act

But on the other hand, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, on behalf of a trust belonging to Bohra women, opposed the PILs, saying that female circumcision is not the same as female genital mutilation. He argued that the practice should be protected under Article 25 and 26 (right to practice and propagate religion) as it is part of the essentiality of the Dawoodi Bohra religion and also that Bohra Muslim men practiced genital mutilation too.

In response, Attorney general K K Venugopal said that if such religious practices affect public morality and health, then they can not be allowed. “The report says it has positive health impacts and reduces infection in men,” the AG said.

“These petitions have been filed by women. And if they do not want it, then it cannot be imposed,” CJI Misra said.

H/T: Hindustan Times



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