The agony of Female Genital Mutilation by Yamika Khanna

The close overlap between the religious rights and child rights has resulted in the overlook of child rights by the societal fabric due to their traditional mindset and non flexible approach in accomodating a change. One such example of child rights being treated as a secondary responsibility which tends to lose it’s significance in front of the religious traditions is the practice of Female Genital Mutilation in Bohra Muslim Community.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reason. It is mainly carried out on girls between the ages of 1 and 15 years.
The practice existing within the Bohra community involves at the very least, the cutting of the prepuce or the clitoral hood, which clearly falls under Type 1(a) of the definition of FGM/C as set out by the WHO. It is usually performed by Mullanis – women who have a semi-religious standing, by traditional cutters, or by any woman with some experience.
The fundamental issue with the procedural implementation of this practice lies in the non-medical method adopted, by granting Mullanis the authority to indulge in such a sensitive medical act. The Mullanis aren’t trained professionals, hence they are not equipped with the knowledge to medically operate on the human body and this leads to severe adverse implications such as improper care during the process of mutilation, non-maintenance of hygiene and spread of serious infection due to medical negligence.
The barbaric practice of female genital mutilation leads to several severe adverse physical, sexual as well as mental effects such as severe pain, excessive bleeding, mental block and trauma, urinal issues, pregnancy and childbirth complications, menstrual problems, keloids, sexually transmitted diseases amongst others. Therefore, this process is extremely dangerous for the health of a young girl child in short as well as long term.
Moreover, this practice is fundamentally in contradiction with the basic principles of child and women rights recognised both internationally as well as domestically. The major legal provisions that the practice violates are Article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, Section 320 in The Indian Penal Code, Section 3 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), The Goa Children’s Act, 2003 (GC Act) under Section 2(y)(i), The National Policy for Children, 2013 , UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the elimination of female genital mutilation amongst several other provisions.
The sphere of Female Genital Mutilation as a practice of child abuse has been overlooked for a long time and needs to be addressed in the present to protect more girl children from being victims of such an abuse that leaves a long term mark on their physical, mental as well as emotional health and wellness.

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