In December 2015, Speak Out on FGM – a collective of Bohra khatna survivors – launched a signature petition on Change.org, appealing to various ministers in the Indian government to end Female Genital Cutting (khatna) in India. It was the first time that 17 Bohra women had publicly come out, as signatories, to speak against the practice, and the petition helped break the silence on Khatna both in the community and the media. Today, the petition has amassed more than 83,000 supporters.
A year since this pioneering petition, on December 10, 2016, Speak Out on FGM launched a new petition on Change.org, this time addressed to the United Nations. The petition was launched on Human Rights Day – the last day of the global 16 Days of Activism campaign to end gender-based violence, and it has already received 544 supporters.
The new petition reflects the growing, open support for the cause of ending khatna: this time, 32 Bohra women listed their names as signatories to the petition.
This petition is an appeal by survivors of khatna, calling upon the United Nations to strengthen its recognition of India as one of the countries where FGC is practiced.
While UN agencies do acknowledge that FGC is prevalent in “certain ethnic groups in Asian countries…in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka”, Indonesia is the only one of these countries that is included in the UN’s official FGC-prevalence statistic of 200 million girls cut in 30 countries. Girls cut in India are thus excluded from these statistics of global prevalence (learn more here).
More global recognition of FGC would help spread awareness on the issue of khatna in India. More significantly, it would help Bohra women and men make official appeal to the Indian government to take policy-level steps to end FGC.
Currently, there is no law against FGC in India, and the matter is still barely recognised as prevalent in the Indian Bohra community. Since the religious and administrative headquarters of the Bohras are located in Mumbai, and since India houses approximately half the international Bohra population of 1.5 to 2 million, ending khatna in India can go a long way in ending the practice among all Bohras.
Through this petition, Speak Out on FGM hopes to speed up the process of instituting government and international mechanisms to highlight and promote measures to eradicate FGC.
To sign the petition, click here.