Geneva, 22 September: For the first time, Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) in India was discussed at a side event at the 36th Regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva yesterday. This discussion was held on the day of India’s Universal Periodic Review at the HRC.
At the event, representatives of WeSpeakOut and Change.org participated in an hour-long discussion on the prevalent practice of FGM in India organized by non-profit organisation, Global Alliance against FGM, and called upon the Government of India to ensure adequate steps are taken to proactively prevent FGM.
Global Alliance against FGM and WeSpeakOut also submitted a statement on FGM in India during India’s Universal Periodic Review.
India is a signatory to the United Nations General Assembly’s Resolution to Ban FGM worldwide which was adopted unanimously in December 2012, and has also committed to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goal of ending FGM worldwide by 2030.
Speaking at the side event, Masooma Ranalvi, Founder, WeSpeakOut, said, “While the issue of FGM did not feature during India’s Universal Periodic Review proceedings today, it is a fact that women and children are being subject to this human rights violation even now. Our objective in coming to the UNHRC was to highlight that FGM indeed exists in India and needs to be addressed.”
WeSpeakOut, a collective of FGM survivors from the Bohra community in India, has highlighted that enough evidence is available to prove FGM’s existence within the Bohra community which has a population of nearly 2 million. Recently, the prevalence of the practice in other Indian communities has emerged with survivors from Kerala speaking out about their personal experience of FGM.
The practice of FGM among Bohras, also known as Khafz or Khatna, is classified by the WHO as Type1, and is illegal under Indian laws. It involves the partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
Holger Postulart from Global Alliance against FGM said, “FGM is traditionally associated with sub-Saharan Africa. But strong evidence has emerged of FGM being prevalent in non African countries like Iraq, Iran, Indonesia and India. Global attention needs to focus on these countries as well.”
Durga Nandini, Communications Director, Change.org said, “Survivors of FGM from several countries have started campaigns on Change.org in the past, and their governments have responded positively to these campaigns. We hope that in India too, the government will engage with the survivors and acknowledge the appeal of over 100,000 people who have supported WeSpeakOut in their campaign.”
In 2012, WeSpeakOut started a petition on Change.org to create public awareness and urge the Indian government to take steps to end FGM. Find the petition here