SC questions female genital mutilation

‘Can’t violate woman’s bodily privacy’

No one can violate the integrity and the bodily privacy of a woman in the name of religion, the Supreme Court observed on Monday.

The observation, from a Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, came after the Centre condemned the practice of female genital mutilation performed by some communities on children as a religious practice.

Chief Justice Misra said such practices on children was an offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

“Why should anyone have the authority to touch the female genital… no one can use religious practices to touch the female body,” Justice Chandrachud observed orally.

Directions sought

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal urged the court to issue directions against the practice. The international community had condemned it.

Mr. Venugopal submitted that female genital mutilation is punished with seven years’ imprisonment.

Bohra community plea

However, the court also decided to hear an application for impleading filed by the Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association for Religious Freedom.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for the group, said “khafz/female circumcision as practised by the Dawoodi Bohra community is not female genital mutilation.” It was an essential part of their religion and protected under the Constitution.

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