No genital mutilation of Dawoodi Bohra girls: Centre

No genital mutilation of Dawoodi Bohra girls: Centre

The Centre on Tuesday opposed before the Supreme Court a practice in Dawoodi Bohra community of forcing minor girls to undergo female genital mutilation, saying it violated bodily integrity, recognised by the apex court in the right to privacy judgement.

“The issue has been squarely covered by the right to privacy judgement, under which the bodily integrity has been held as a fundamental right,” Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted before a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

He said the practice has been banned in many countries, including the US, UK and other African countries.

The court, for its part, also questioned the “scientific justification”, if any, behind the procedure as senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi, appearing for some of the community members, contended that the practice was being undertaken under the supervision of medical practitioners.

“Do you wish us to pass an order asking doctors to perform this procedure in a hospital? How can it be done? What is the scientific justification to direct doctors to perform this procedure,” the bench asked.

The court also observed doctors performing this kind of procedure would also be violative of medical ethics.

Singhvi said the Dawoodi Bohras have been the most progressive and educated among the Muslim communities and the practice is not so grave as has been made out by those opposing it.

“What is your standard operating procedure (SOP). I am thinking about the trauma of a child who would be crying and objecting to it. Somebody has to hold the child down as there is no anaesthesia, no hospital," Justice Chandrachud asked.

Singhvi contended such a thing happened when a child is vaccinated and moreover, extreme care and caution are taken as the procedure is conducted under the supervision of the mother.

A PIL was filed by Sunita Tiwari, represented by senior advocate Indira Jaising, contending that the female genital mutilation would, among others, tantamount to an offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012.

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