Human Rights Day: Dawoodi Bohra women launch petition to ban female genital mutilation


    Mumbai: A group of women belonging to the Dawoodi Bohra community, who underwent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), have launched a petition seeking people’s support to abolish the practice.
    The online petition, aimed at rooting out this ancient practice was launched by an advocacy group known as ‘Speak Out on FGM’ on on Thursday ahead of the International Human Rights Day, being observed on Saturday.
    It would be submitted to the wing of United Nations that deals with the welfare of women and child, said a senior associate with the group.
    This group had earlier launched a similar petition in the month of December last year which has received over 80,000 responses so far and was submitted to Union Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi.
    “Our main objective to make at least everyone aware about this age-old practice being observed in our country since last 1,400 years which in not only shameful but is unconstitutional and utterly violates human rights,” said Masooma Ranalvi, a 50-year-old working woman from Delhi.
    “I have no hesitation in admitting that I was subjected to FGM at a very young age, but I have ensured that my daughter, who is now 22, does not undergo this brutality,” said Ranalvi, adding even today over 80 percent of the Bohra girls are subjected to this “hurtful” tradition.
    File photo. Reuters File photo. Reuters
    A senior associate of the group from Pune Shabnam Poonawala said, “Though this is practiced in US and Canada too, but their respective governments have brought laws to curb this evil. But unfortunately, no one speaks about this here, forget bringing a law for it.”
    “We want the government to acknowledge it and stand behind us. Promulgate a law to flush out this regressive ritual from the society,” said Poonawala, also president of the University Women’s Association (UWA), a non-profit organisation (NGO) working towards empowering women.
    In December 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution on banning FGM. The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies FGM as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
    The WHO defines FGM — sometimes called female circumcision — as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to their genital organs for non-medical reasons.
    Recounting her ordeal that she underwent at a tender age, a survivor from Mumbai said, “I was very young, around seven years of age. I was subjected to FGM in Mumbai in an unhygienic condition and in a clandestine manner. The shock, the physical and psychological trauma of that day is still fresh in my mind.”
    “Its good that thousands of survivors are joining this campaign not only from India, but also from Canada, Australia, South Africa, Britain etc,” she added.
    Survivors maintained the aim behind FGM was to curb the natural sex drive in women. They claimed FGM has nothing to do with religion and is more of a cultural practice.
    According to WHO, between 100 million and 140 million females across the world are thought to be living with the consequences of FGM.

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