Activists ask Narendra Modi to ban female genital mutilation in India
Women's forum urges PM to fulfil his promise of banning khatna, and bring it under the ambit of IPC, POCSO Act
Survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM) or khatna, which is practised by the Dawoodi Bohra community, have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to declare it illegal in India. The letter will be tweeted to the PM today, on the occasion of World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse.
Earlier this year, Maneka Gandhi, minister of women and child development, had promised to issue advisories to the respective state governments and the Syedna, head of the Bohra community, "to issue an edict to community members to give up FGM." At the time, Gandhi had also said that the government would bring in a law to ban khatna. The letter, which has been written by We Speak Out, a forum comprising FGM survivors, requested that the Government of India issue the advisories as promised, declaring FGM an offence under the Indian Penal Code and The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Pointing out that FGM continued in several parts of the country, the letter reads, "More young girls are suffering as a result. FGM is a form of sexual violence that has deep
emotional, sexual and physical consequences, with many of these consequences continuing throughout an adult woman's life. It is time to end this harmful practice that causes pain and suffering to women and girls. We urge you to issue a statement to all concerned, especially the leaders of the community who protect and promote this tradition."
When contacted, Masooma Ranalvi, convener for We Speak Out, said, "This is a fervent appeal to the PM to unequivocally recognise and declare FGM/khatna as girl child abuse." "Girls from the Bohra community need to be saved and protected in keeping with the PM's beti bachao campaign," she added.
We Speak Out is a forum that started in 2015 and brought together survivors of FGM, who were willing to talk about their experiences. In December, 2015, the forum launched a petition on change.org appealing to the government to implement a law to ban FGM. The petition has since exceeded one lakh signatures.
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