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Female genital mutilation : An offence to the female body and her integrity says Supreme Court

Hearing a PIL seeking a ban on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practiced within the Dawoodi Bohra Community in India, the Supreme Court remarked that the bodily integrity of a woman could not be infringed without her consent.

The petitioner contended before the Apex Court that the practise amounts to an offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012 and the Indian Penal Code.

The Supreme Court agreed that the practice falls within the offence defined under Section 3(b) of POCSO Act,. The Court said, “Female Genital Mutilation is a practice which we do not support, circumcision is different.”

The Supreme Court has rightly applied its judicial mind while affirming that the this is a crime against the integrity of a women and also outrage  her modesty. This is not only the offence under the penal laws but also a violation of the rights provided by the law of the land under Article 14 and 21. The bodily integrity of a woman should not be subject to some external authority. This is an offence against the public order and morality. Let’s connect with an instance of the practice of Sati. The ‘sati’ was also an ancient practice. But any such practice has to fulfil the conditions of “public order and morality”. If one does not want it, can it be compulsorily imposed, the Court said. 

Additional reporting by Arpan Arora. 

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