Is Culture Really the Culprit Understanding Female Genital Mutilation Legally

Prakriti Ramakrish and S.Vishnu Priyan
School of Excellence in Law, Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, India.

Volume II – Issue III, 2020

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere said Martin Luther King. The recent sabarimala case has reminded us of a yet another grievous non-criminalised offence that has been in practice in the society for ages – Female Genital Mutilation. Female Genital Mutilation comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non- medical reasons.  While the exact number of girls and women being subjected to FGM  still remains unclear it has been estimated that at least 200 million girls and women in 30 countries, including India, have been subjected to the practice out of which 44 million are girls below the age of 15, who are considered as juveniles.  In India this practice is prevalent among the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim Community who preserve it as a matter of customary tradition. In spite of the Supreme Court’s insistence on criminalising FGM it still hasn’t found its way into the Indian statute books. The law and criminal justice system generally don’t recognise sexual violence occurring within the family as a separate crime, hence cases are rarely filed and a juvenile has no option but to suffer in silence. By following the Gandhian principle that “every practice inconsistent with the morals of the age is fit to be abolished”, we as legal luminaries of today and tomorrow ought to have the judicial activism to be instrumental in criminalising the atrocities of this barbaric practice.


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