Female Genital Mutilation: A Frightful Practice Against Women

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Introduction

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a gender-based discriminatory practice throughout the world, including partial and complete removal of external female genitalia, also called “female circumcision”. FGM is universally perceived as a violation of the rights of humans, reflecting deep-rooted disparity between gender and minor females. This social order where polished, is a socially maintained conduct rule. It likewise contrasts from most different types of savagery against ladies, in rehearsing networks, done routinely on all young ladies, generally minors .the process includes the following kinds

  1. Clitoris circumcision: incomplete or all-out eviction of the clitoris as well as in the exceptionally not common case.
  2. Excision: the expulsion of the clitoris and “labia minora” with or without extraction of the “labia majora”.
  3. Infibulation: tapering of the vaginal slit through the formation of casing seal, cutting and repositioning inwards.
  4. Others: all further destructive strategies to the women’s genital for non-therapeutic purpose, for example puncturing, chiselling, penetrating, abrading and searing the private zone.

Evidence on FGM

Not well known but to be believed that this ritual is 2000 years old and used to be practised in ancient Egypt accepted as to be a sign of “aristocracy[1]”. But some believe that this is started with the slave system at the beginning of the Islamic period. But the core belief if FGM practice ensures women virginity and reduction in sexual desires.[2] The Roman practise that involves slipping of rings through labia mazora from preventing them to get pregnant, in Russia, it was to protect the virginity of women. The foundation of this belief was found in traditional values and attitudes, it was believed in Africa women whose daughter did not get circumcise would not be getting a husband. of Africa till 21st century. In India mainly practised by Muslim, Dawoodi, Bohra community, also Sunni subsects of Kerela. It is believed that the practice is brought by Shia sects migrated to India from Yaman in the 12th century. The practised called khafad or khatna in common language[3].

An Indian Prospective of Violation of Human Right

Bohra community lives in various segments of India like “Gujarat”, “Maharashtra”, “Hyderabad”, “Kerala”, and “Madhya Pradesh” extensively[4]. In Kerala, the women’s subjected to this practice refer as Sunnat Kalyanam. Khahd generally performed at the age of 7 and the Sunni’s in Kerela before age of 1 year. With the addition to this if a non-Bohra adult lady wants to wed a Bohra man, then the practice is performed prerequisite to nikah[5].

While the Quran does not sanction female circumcision, still Bohra believes it enhances women complexion, control her sexual urges and makes her more devout[6]. Some other reasons for the prevalence of the practice are family honour, increasing sexual pleasures for the male, enhancing the fertility of female, preservation of virginity and chastity[7].

The Battle against FGM

In “1949, THE BOMBAY PREVENTION OF EXCOMMUNICATION ACT”, approved as a reprisal to the boycotted individuals of Bohra community, which was challenged by the 51stDai Soidna Taher Safuddin, in 1951 Supreme Court regarded the ejected as the legitimate exercise of body according to“article 26 of Indian Constitution”[8].

Meanwhile, on April 14, 2016, Maharashtra passed a legislature “MAHARASTRA PROHIBITION OF PEOPLE FROM SOCIAL BOYCOTT (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL) ACT, 2016” to forbids the social cold shoulder of individual by social order panchayat. It applies to all communities and helped in raising voices against the FGM[9]. In case A.S Narayan v. State of Andhra Pradesh[10], it was held that the practice of FGM regardless being religious would be subjected to “constitutional morality” and the Bohra class will have to accept the constitutional standards of freedom, justice and nondiscrimination, and will not get any protection under article 26 of Indian Constitution.

In case “Sri Adi Visheshwara of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi v. State of Uttar Pradesh”[11], it was held, “the denomination sect is also bound by the constitutional goals and they too are required to abide by the law; they are not above the law. Law aims at removal the social ills and evils for social peace, order, stability and progress in an egalitarian society. …For instance, untouchability was believed to be a part of Hindu religious belief. But human rights denounce it private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause(1) of Article 30”.

FGM as a harmful practice

Process of FGM harms girls and women’s severely. It does not give any health benefit to them. Its process involves the damaging of genital tissues and hindrance in the natural functions in a females body. Immediate as well as long term complications can be caused by this process[12].

Immediate complications may include[13]:

  • Immense  pain
  • Needless bleeding (phlebotomize)
  • Private parts tissue swelling
  • Fever
  • septicemia e.g., tetanus
  • Wound healing troubles
  • Trauma
  • Death

Long term complications may include[14]

  • Urinary dilemma such as painful micturate or urinary path septicemia;
  • Vaginal dilemmas like dismissal, prickling, microbial vaginosis, and additional contagions;
  • Menstrual difficulty including painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.;
  • Scar flesh and cheloid;
  • Sexual hitch like pain during intercourse, etc.;
  • Endanger childbirth intricacy is namely difficulty in parturition, intense blood loss, caesarean segment, require to save the infant and more. It can also lead to the death of newborn;
  • Psychological problems like as depression, anxiety, mental stress etc.;

These types of procedures are mainly done on young girls in their infancy or adolescence period. Adult women’s are also the victim to this procedure but lesser than young females.

  • The pregnant women who had undergone the FGM have the possibility of dying at the time of birth or after giving the birth[15] due to haemorrhage and also can lead to other infections and increase the chance of infertility.
  • The study done by Senegal found out that the women who undergo this procedure are likely to suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological syndromes.
  • Women who undergo this procedure are likely to experience painful intercourse, reduce sexual desires and also lead to sexual phobia[16].
  • An estimate by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA reveals that the practice increases the possibility of HIV transference and due to injury to the lady’s private organs, the mating can result in scratching of tissue and expand the possibility of HIV transference.

International interpretation on FGM-

A joint declaration issued by “WHO, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) in 1997” against the practice of FGM. After this, many measures (like change in public policies, research, etc.) has been taken in order to negate FGM[17].

  • WHO on FGM-

   In 2008, to eliminate FGM, WHA61.16 resolution was passed by the World Health Assembly which indicated in the sectors of fitness, literacy, money matters, justice, and women issues. Aim of “World Health Organization” was to eradicate FGM by:

  • Reinforcing the health centre response: providing medical care, guidelines, and tools training by health professionals. Also helping girls and women living with FGM by giving them proper counselling[18].
  • Building evidence: educating about the ill-effects, causes and consequences of the procedure. Also communicating them about how to deal with those who have experienced the process and how to eliminate it.
  • Increasing advocacy: to negate FGM within a generation, advocacy tools and publications on the international, national, regional and local level is to be developed[19].

In 2008, a statement was issued on eviction of “FGM” in order to hold up the raised arguments for its evacuation, known as: “eliminating female genital mutilation: an interagency statement” by “WHO” with nine other United Nation partners. Collected pieces of evidence on the practice of FGM over previous decades were shown in this statement[20].

In 2010, “Global strategy to stop health care providers from performing female genital mutilation” was published in alliance with other branches of UN and international institution by WHO. 

UNICEF and FGM

In 2007, to accelerate the abandonment of the practice of female genital mutilation or cutting, a joint programme was initiated by UNIFPA and UNICEF. Since 2008, it has been working in compliance with UNFPA on “Joint Programme on Eliminating Genital Mutilation: Accelerating Change’ to conserve Human Right and galvanize global momentum to negate FGM by 2030”. UNICEF showed a report on FGM[21] in thirty countries containing faith, viewpoint, tendencies, programmatic and plans responses to exercised universally in 2016. In May 2016, first evidence-based instructions were developed on the administration of the health-related problems caused by FGM was launched through a joint programme on FGM. In “March 14, 2019, Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director CSW Side Event: Advancing Efforts to End FGM/C”[22]. A continuous joint effort by UNICEF and UNIFPA was going on in 2018 also. New interventions and actions were added to the joint programme. These new interventions and joint actions were directly linked to “sustainable development goal 5.3” aiming to cease all the harmful practices. Targets are set on a global level to deal with the practice which includes providing of services related to FGM to more than 8 million girls and women’s, educating almost 10,000 communities to abandon such practice, setting national budget line and monitoring mechanism in over 16 countries, strengthening national efforts by mobilizing regional[23] and sub-regional political organizations and availing online global knowledge hub. Help from the public and private sector for collecting fund targeting up to $ 77 million to get appropriate resources has been set by UNFPA and UNICEF[24]. This is done to meet the objective set in the joint programme for the period 2018 to 2021. The European Unions, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway are some generous donors who are currently supporting the joint programme in FGM and helping in expanding it[25].

In 2019, an assessment is made indicating the risk of 4.1 million girls being cut. Almost there are about 25 such countries which practices FGM routinely and according to this data, it is evaluated that almost 68 million females are in the count of being cut between the period of the year 2015 and 2030 if any immediate action is not taken. Currently, more than 200 million girls have been through this procedure[26].

Codes around world against FGM practice

Around 59 countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, etc., has made laws to deal with FGM as estimated by UNFPA[27]. Following are some countries dealing with FGM by framing law-

  • Kenya –

Kenya made FGM illicit and fine of 200,000 shillings or three years imprisonment. It is the faith of about 92.5 per cent population of Kenya that this practice should be unused. “Prohibition of FGM Act, 2011” and “Childrens Act, 2001” brought up in Kenya providing harsh penalties against this practice.

  • Mauritania-

FGM is illicit but for the girls under age 18 are subjected to laws. Also do not have any punishment for performing the procedure. No major protection found in spite of law.

  • Liberia –

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on In January 2018 her last day issued an order for banning FGM in country Although the ban was only for the girls, up to age of 18 years.

  • Benin –

FGM practice illicit since 2003. Imposing punishment for 6 months extending up to 3 years of imprisonment with fine up to 2 million francs. The rate had declined.

  • Sierra Leone

Ratified the “African charter on Human and People’s Right in Maputo Protocol in 2015” byplacing a helpful obligation on state to forbid FGM practice by enforcing lawful responsibility, under article 5.

International framework to the remedial structure to FGM victims

Recognizing the various kinds of social, cultural also economics within human rights instruments of religion, social and international.

“Article 13, International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966” talks about everyone’s right for enjoying an utmost level of reachable standard of all over health, which including all form of the provisions like still birth rate, infant mortality, healthy development of the child, improved hygiene standards of environment and industries, availability of cure for different types of the diseases and a sustainable condition to meet all the aspects of the medical assistance[28]

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“Article 5, Universal Declaration of Human Rights” provides all the freedom to the torture, cruelty and other such violence[29].Inhuman or degrading treatment to any human and specifically to the any medical or analytical study with the “article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”.

“Article 1 of United Nation General Assembly” emphasis about the prohibition of the gender discrimination for the motive of the setting aside kind of identification, pleasure and practice by the females. To bring down the rates of discrimination against the women the various major interventions like “African charter of human rights and European convention of Human Rights” etc.

“Right to life” is been protected under the various conventions on Civil and Political Rights of the United States, “article 3 of Universal Declaration on The Human Right”. “Article 6 of United Nations Conventions on The Rights of the Child”, “Article 2 of European Convention on the Human rights”, “Article 4 of American conventions on Human Rights”, “Article 4 of African Charter on Human and People’s Rights”. All of them mentioned above secures to physical integrity, protection against torture, encompasses and inherent dignity also includes in the freedom[30].

“Article 25 of Universal Declaration for Human Rights” and further “Article 12 of International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” States rights to utmost standards of health is enshrined a number of international and regional instruments[31].

CEDAW Committee in the year 1990, “General Recommendation No.14 on Female Circumcision”, shapes to have relevant and efficacious measures for eradicating the practice against the women and comment 13 and comment 18 on injurious practice, indicating the responsibility of the nation to understand the authorization to ascertain, securing and attain the rights of its native. “The United Nations Convention on Right of Person Disability, 2006”[32]gives about knowledge to“including those having long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.

Indian scenario

Dealing with the various kinds of the brutality counter women are bestowed with the “Indian Penal Code, 1860(IPC). Sections 319 to 326 IPC”, address to various kind of the hurts[33] and different offences of grievous hurt, especially to 324 and 326 which takes about the “ voluntary causing hurt” and voluntary causing the grievous hurt”. According to the former CBI officer “R.K. Raghavan” explained that “FGM is not the explicit offence under the IPC, on a complaint, so the police register a case under section 326 of IPC”.[34]

“The Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012” addresses in, “section 3 that inhibitory molest by any person on any child, lodging of any article into the vagina of the girl.[35] And the explanation of “section 375, IPC” Intentionally states that expression term vagina includes “labia majora”.

Under the “section 2(y) (1) of The Goa Children’s Act, 2003” defines “sexual assault” as “different types of intercourse; vaginal or oral or anal, use of objects with children”, and “deliberately causing injury to the sexual organ of children”[36]

“The Integrated Child Protection Scheme launched in 2009” by the “Minister of Women and Child Development” focus to efficient protective network for vulnerable children also to meet numerous needs of toddlers in hard circumstances, by an alliance with diverse sectors, along with health, literacy, judiciary, security and labour, with others.[37]

“The National Police for Children,2013(NPC)” declares the “the State is committed to taking affirmative measures-legislative, policy or otherwise-to promote and safeguard the right of all children to live and grow with equality, dignity, security and freedom, especially those marginal or disadvantage; The NCP recognizes and prioritizes the right to health, survival, development and protection as inalienable rights of the children. With regard to protection, the NPC recognizes that a safe, secure and protective environment is a precondition for the realization of all other rights of children”. Committing to creating “a caring, protective and safe environment for all children, to reduce their vulnerability in all situations and to keep them safe at all places, especially public space” for protecting children against ferocity, exploitation and prejudice, or any actions which harmful to rights.

The practice cannot be justified the basis of religious belief

“Articles 25 and 26 of Indian Constitution” actually provides secures right and liberty to control religious matter which is also subjected to public order, ethics and well-being.

Article 14 “Equality before the laws”.

Article 15 “Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religious, race, caste, sex or place of birth.”

Article 21 “Protection of life and personal liberty.”

FGM practice is being tried to grab of religion and object to protect the women victims and violation of their right to physical autonomy, to protect their own bodies against the violence and mental trauma[38].

“Morality” in article 25 and 26 portrayed as to “constitutional morality” under

Manoj Narula v. Union of India[39] that “The constitution of India is the living instrument, made for the progress of the society…; it is not the natural sentiment, it has to be cultivated.”

Actually refers to “to bow down to the norms of the constitution and not to act in violation and arbitrary manner. The traditions and the conventions have to grow to sustain the value of such morality”.

In A S Narayana Deekshitulu v. State of Andhra Pradesh[40], that “FGM practice regardless of being a religious exercise of Bohra community need to bow down to the constitutional norms of equality and no discrimination. Such practice would not be secured under article 26 as because this violating and against article 14 and 15 to extend its action against gender justice and to against the constitutional morality”.

SUPREME COURT on FGM on July 31, 2020, the bench of “Chief Justice Deepak Mishra”, “Justice A M Khanwilkar” and “Justice D Y Chandchud” in the Sunita Tiwari v. Union of India[41] supports that FGM exercise is a crime punishable under the Indian Penal Code and POSCO Act.it was said “the women have other obligation and can’t be expected to submit to whims of the male; declared it to be illegal and inhuman[42]. Now would be punishable with the imprisonment of seven years.

Conclusion

Through this paper, I tried to analyze various inhuman aspects of FGM against females around us. Looking at the psychological and physical harms through which female goes through and as per various countries has criminalized it but the bitter truth of the age is that we still have a good amount of data of suffering female around the world and in Indian society still has a taboo associated with it backed by religious dicta and the age-old traditions.

It is important to spread awareness about this practice so as to sensitize people regarding the miserable state and the fate of this girl and women. Eventually, the 6 February whole world observed as International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM. The government involvement is also important and public awareness is not enough, which could only be done when women like Sunita Tiwari would come forward and raise their voice. With this paper and various blogs and research incentive around the world, I hope that authorities around are taking steps to curb this but still we need more hand to join and make the system more strong enough.


[1]Garima Trivedi, Jahnvi Mongia Female Genital Mutilation: a dark practice of violating women’s right, general of human rights law and practice. 2019, 2(1:9-18p) 

[2]ibid

[3]ibid

[4]ibid

[5]ibid

[6]Female genital mutilation :guide to eliminating the FGM practice in India

http:/www.lawyerscollective.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Female-Genital-Mutilation-A-guide-to-eliminating-the-FGM-practice-in –India.pdf

[7] Mihir Garg and Rashi Jain, Female Genital Mutilation : (A Social Legal Prospective on Indian Context) International Jouranal of Law and Legal Jurisprudence studies, volume 2 issue 3

[8] Sardar Syedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb v. The State of Bombay, AIR 1962 SC 853

[9]Female genital mutilation :guide to eliminating the FGM practice in India

http:/www.lawyerscollective.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Female-Genital-Mutilation-A-guide-to-eliminating-the-FGM-practice-in –India.pdf

[10] 1996 AIR 1765

[11] 1997(4) SCC 606

[12] Female Genital Mutilation, http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation , published- 31-01-2018, excessed- 24-01-2020

[13]Female Genital Mutilation, http://www.unicef.org/protection/female-genital-mutilation/2017

[14]Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) frequently asked questions, http://www.unfpa.org/resourses/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-frequently-asked-questions , published- July 2019, excessed- 24-01-2020 

[15] Elliot Klein,Elizabeth helzer, FGM:health consequences and complication/https:www.hindwio.com/journals/org/2018/2365715

[16] El-Defrawi, M., Lotfy, G., Dandash, k., Refaat, A., and Eyada, M. (2001). Female Genital Mutilation and its Psychosexual Impact. Journal of Sex and Martial Therapy, 27(5), pp.465-473.

[17]Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) frequently asked questions, http://www.unfpa.org/resourses/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-frequently-asked-questions , published- July 2019, excessed- 24-01-2020 

[18]Female Genital Mutilation, http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation , published- 31-01-2018, excessed- 24-01-2020

[19]  Female Genital Mutilation, http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation , published- 31-01-2018, excessed- 24-01-2020

[20]https://www.unfper.org/unfpa-unicef-joint-programme-eliminate-femail-genital-mutilation/7august2019

[21]Female Genital Mutilation, http://www.unicef.org/protection/female-genital-mutilation/2017

[22] Female Genital Mutilation is an internationally recognized human right volition, https://www.unicef.org/protection/female-genital-mutilation , published- 14-03-2019, excessed- 25-01-2020

[23]Female Genital Mutilation is an internationally recognized human right volition, https://www.unicef.org/protection/female-genital-mutilation , published- 14-03-2019, excessed- 25-01-2020

[24] The law and FGM/https://www.28toomany.org/statict/media/uploads/laws%20reports/the law-and-fgmv1 ,September 2018..

[25]https://www.unfper.org/unfpa-unicef-joint-programme-eliminate-femail-genital-mutilation/7august2019

[26] G A O Magoha and O B Magoha/current Global Status of Female Genital Mutilation/East African Medical Journal vol 72, 5May 2019

[27] FGM and the law around the world/https:www.equalitynow.org/the law and fgm/19 June 2019

[28]Garima Trivedi, Jahnvi Mongia Female Genital Mutilation: a dark practice of violating women’s right, general of human rights law and practice. 2019, 2(1:9-18p) 

[29]ibid

[30]Female genital mutilation :guide to eliminating the FGM practice in India

http:/www.lawyerscollective.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Female-Genital-Mutilation-A-guide-to-eliminating-the-FGM-practice-in –India.pdf

[31]Garima Trivedi, Jahnvi Mongia Female Genital Mutilation: a dark practice of violating women’s right, general of human rights law and practice. 2019, 2(1:9-18p) 

[32]Female genital mutilation :guide to eliminating the FGM practice in India

http:/www.lawyerscollective.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Female-Genital-Mutilation-A-guide-to-eliminating-the-FGM-practice-in –India.pdf

[33]Female genital mutilation :guide to eliminating the FGM practice in India

http:/www.lawyerscollective.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Female-Genital-Mutilation-A-guide-to-eliminating-the-FGM-practice-in –India.pdf

[34] RASHEEDA Bhagat ‘Ban this Barbarous practice’, Hindu business Line ,july 29,2014,

http://www.stopfgmideast,org/india-ban-this-barbarous-practice/

[35] section 3(B) of POSCO ACT : “Penetrative sexual assault,- A person is said to commit “penetrative sexual assaultif-(b) inserts, to any extent, to any object or a part of the body, not being the penis,into the vaginathe urethra or anus of the child or makes the child to do so with him or any other person”

[36] Female genital mutilation :guide to eliminating the FGM practice in India

http:/www.lawyerscollective.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Female-Genital-Mutilation-A-guide-to-eliminating-the-FGM-practice-in –India.pdf

[37]ibid

[38] Female genital mutilation :guide to eliminating the FGM practice in India

http:/www.lawyerscollective.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Female-Genital-Mutilation-A-guide-to-eliminating-the-FGM-practice-in –India.pdf

[39] 2014 9 SCC 1

[40] 1996 (9) SCC 548

[41]M.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/genital-mutilation-case-goes-to-5-judges-SC-bench/anp-articles show/25 September 2018

[42] FGM Violates Constitutional Rights Supreme Court/https://www-ndtv-com.edn.amproject,org

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