India: Enact Laws to Protect Girls from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - the cutting or removal of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons - occurs in some form across all continents.
FGM In India: Addressing Misconceptions
For a long time there was a misconception that FGM didn’t happen in India, despite UN’s global target to eliminate FGM in all countries as part of their global Sustainable Development Goals. Women and girls in India are also not explicitly protected by law as the practice is not currently illegal, although there is a current FGM case before the Supreme Court of India.
In India, the practice is most common amongst members of a sub-sect of Ismaili Shia Islam known as the Dawoodi Bohra community, though it is also practised by a sect of Sunnis in the southern state of Kerala. In Bohra communities, FGM is known as ‘Khatna’ or ‘Khafz’ and is usually performed on pre-pubescent girls by traditional practitioners called ‘Mullanis’.
“Although sharing my story helped act as a catalyst, this what is happening is about much more than my personal experience. We are living in a time where women have really found their voices. Centerstaging this much secret and hidden issue of FGM/C through personal narratives has helped us garner much support for our campaign to eliminate FGM/C from India. We have been able to take this movement forward by harnessing the power of women.”
Masooma, Founder of 'WeSpeakOut'
Ending FGM/C by 2030
In August 2018, over 25 thought leaders from the anti-FGM/Khafz movement, women’s rights organizations, from India, Africa and North America, and various United Nations agencies came together at a roundtable meeting in New Delhi, which was jointly organized by WeSpeakOut and Equality Now. The roundtable explored how India could eliminate FGM/Khafz and meet its commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We have a long way to go in the struggle to end FGM/Khafz. Immediate action needs to be taken to tackle this pressing issue and ensure that India fulfils its commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
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