Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the practice of removing part or all of the external female genital organs for non-medicinal purposes. The reasons given for this are many; such as it lessens sexual arousal and prevents affairs, keeps women’s minds off sex and on pious matters, increases male sexual pleasure or that an un-mutilated vagina is dirty.
This mutilation is widely performed in Africa and the Middle East where it is promoted as being part of a religious lifestyle. Most of the time, young girls are taken by parents and relatives to a midwife who proceeds to cut their genitals, usually with a razor or a scissor, without taking any sort of medical precautions or even giving anesthetic.
The Dawoodi Bohra is a Shia sect that is led by the Syeda. They originate from Yemen and are now mostly settled in Maharashtra and Gujarat. They refer to FGM as ‘khatna’ and women in the community regard it as crucial to gain acceptance in the community. The practice came to light with this petition by a woman named Tasleem.
According to our legal system, Article 25 allows citizens to preach, practice and profess religious beliefs but in rulings in 2003 and 2015, the court ruled that Article 25 protects religious faith, not practices that go against public order, health and morality. Clearly, FGM can be said to be one such practice and it needs to be banned immediately.