Sign the #EndFGM petition on change.org

A new change.org petition calling for an end to Female Genital Cutting in the Bohra community was started in September by Ranjana Sehgal and Umi Saran.

The petition is addressed to Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the spiritual leader of the Bohra community, and was started in response to the Syedna’s visit to Indore to give sermons during the first ten holy days of Muharram.

As the petition mentions, “Although the matter is already in the Apex Court if the directive to end FGM comes from the spiritual head of the Bohra community, it will be easier to put an end to this violent practice. The Government of India’s WCD Ministry has said that FGM is in clear contravention of our laws, the Indian Penal Code and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO).”

Over 16,000 supporters have already signed, and the campaign’s next goal is reaching 25,000 signatures.  If you would like to support by signing, click here.

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Indian Supreme Court Offers Hope for Petition Against FGC, While Government Denies its Prevalence

On July 10, judges of the Supreme Court of India observed that the “bodily integrity of a woman” cannot be violated while hearing a petition about Female Genital Cutting. The Court made this observation while hearing the arguments of a petition filed by the Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association for Religious Freedom, which claims that FGC, as practiced by the Bohra community, is not “FGM” but “circumcision”, and is an essential religious practice that they have the constitutional right to follow.

In response to these arguments, made by DBWRF’s lawyer, Abhishek Singhvi, Justice Chandrachud said, “Why should the bodily integrity of a woman be subject to some external authority? One’s genitals is (sic) an extremely private affair.” The judges also observed that the practice cannot be imposed on those who do not want it.

This is not the final verdict of the Court, and the hearings in the case on FGC in India will continue.

Meanwhile….

On June 27, India’s Ministry for Women and Child Development denied the prevalence of Female Genital Cutting in the country – it’s second U-turn on the issue in the past 13 months. This denial came after a perception poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked India as the most dangerous country in the world for women, based on a variety of parameters that included the practice of FGC. The Indian government responded to this poll by issuing a press release refuting and dismissing its methodology. In the press release, the Government also stated that “Female Genital Mutilation” is “not practiced in India”.

This is clearly at odds with the stand that the Central Government took in the Supreme Court just two months ago when it stated that FGC is “already an offence” under Indian law and asked the Court for guidelines on how to tackle the challenge of FGC.

This is not the first time that the government has made contradictory statements about FGC. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had first publicly acknowledged the practice of FGC in India, and the need to ban it, in May 2017. In December 2017, however, the Government dismissed the testimonies of several women who have spoken out about their FGC experiences by claiming, in the Supreme Court, that there is no “official data” to support the existence of FGC in India.

Such flip-flops leave FGC survivors in the lurch, unsure of whether their government is likely to support the end of a practice that continues to harm so many women and girls in India.

Read more:

Sahiyo comment – An appeal to Maneka Gandhi: Stop the flip-flops on Female Genital Cutting

The problem with the Indian Government denying the existence of Female Genital Mutilation in India: Priya Goswami

Sign Sahiyo’s petition asking the United Nations for more investment towards research and advocacy on Female Genital Cutting in Asia.

Sahiyo’s petition to the United Nations needs your help

In December 2016, Sahiyo started a petition with Change.org to encourage the United Nations to invest in research on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Asian countries. The petition proposes to end FGM/C worldwide by 2030, and Sahiyo needs the support of 7,500 petition signers to accomplish our goal.

The United Nations reports that at least 200 million women have undergone FGM/C, but their data is mostly restricted to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. FGM/C is reported in many Asian, European, and Middle Eastern nations; however, there is a considerable lack of data from these countries, which means the global scope of the problem of FGM/C remains unknown.

In the past year, cases of FGM/C in Sri Lanka, India, and other Asian countries have come into the light of the media and attracted the attention of government officials. The Indian Government’s Ministry of Women and Child Development told the Indian Supreme Court that there was no official data to support the prevalence of FGM/C in India. This ruling was a massive disappointment to activists and researchers who are working to bring more research and awareness to the prevalence of FGM/C in India and Asia.

Asian countries have been excluded from the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme to Accelerate the Abandonment of FGM/C. With more support for research initiatives, Asian countries can conduct research, bring further awareness to the issues within their countries as well as in the global context, and propose legislative change with qualitative backing.

We need about 2,000 more signers to reach our petition goal. Click this link to help us advance our mission to eradicate FGM/C in Asia and worldwide! Help us spread the word by sharing our petition within your networks.