03 May, 2020
7 Min Read
Sudan moves to criminalise Female Genital Mutilation
Part of: GS-II- International issues (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
Female genital mutilation is a deeply-rooted practice in Sudan and other countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, where it is traditionally seen as a way of curbing female sexual desire in order to reinforce conservative behaviour.
Sudanese officials said they are working to criminalise the widespread practice of female genital mutilation after the transitional government approved a landmark draft law. Under the proposed amendment to the criminal code, anyone found guilty of performing the procedure would be sentenced up to three years in prison.
What UN report says?
A 2014 report by the U.N. children’s agency estimated that 87% of Sudanese women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 have been subjected to the procedure. The U.N. children’s agency also welcomed the efforts to outlaw the practice. This practice is not only a violation of every girl child’s rights; it is harmful and has serious consequences for a girl’s physical and mental health.
What it is?
Most undergo an extreme form known as infibulation, which involves the removal and repositioning of the labia to narrow the vaginal opening.
In context of India
FGM is practised by the Dawoodi Bohra, a sect of Shia Islam with one million members in India. In the community, FGM is performed on six- or seven-year-old girls in a form known as khatna or khafz involving the total or partial removal of the clitoral hood.
The spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, has stated that male and female circumcision (respectively khatna and khafz) are required as "acts of religious purity". The term khafd is also used to describe the practice. Other Bohra sects including the Sulemani Bohras and the Alavi Bohras As well as some Sunni communities in Kerala, are reported as practising FGM
Matter in Supreme Court
In May 2017 a public interest litigation (PIL) case was raised in India's Supreme Court. The case was filed by Sunita Tiwari, a lawyer based in Delhi, seeking a ban on FGM in India. The Supreme Court received the petition and sought responses from four states and four ministries of the central government. An advocate for the petition claimed the practice violated children's rights under Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution of India. Female genital mutilation is performed "illegally upon girls (between five years and before she attains puberty)" and is against the "UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which is India is a signatory", the plea said, adding the practice caused "permanent disfiguration to the body of a girl child".
While an advocate opposing the petition argued that khafz is an essential part of the community's religion, and their right to practise the religion is protected under Articles 25 and 26. On August 28, 2018, the then CJI Dipak Mishra referred this matter to a five-judge bench. However, a bench has not yet been constituted to hear the matter in the apex court.
CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention and opened it for signature on 20 November 1989 (resolution 44/25)
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’ is an international statement of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children
The convention mentions the following rights of children
Guiding principles: General requirements for all rights
Survival and Development rights: The basic rights to life and achieving one’s full potential
Protection Rights: Keeping safe from harm
Participation rights: Having an active voice
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