Image source- The Japan Times

This article is written by Shyantika Khan and Aanusha Bagchi, students from Amity University, Kolkata. In this article, the authors explain Female Genital Mutilation which violates their Human Rights and incorporate the ideas regarding the wrongs of genital mutilation that females in our general public are presented to and the shame they face additionally in everyday life.


“Liberty is all about right to decide: about life, happiness or your body”           -Anonymous

Female Genital Mutilation is not only an inhuman practice but also violative of certain fundamental and legal rights of women. Yet it is another dignity lowering activity that grabs women in its clutches. The maltreatment leaves ladies mentally and explicitly harmed. A girl doesn’t live to fulfil society’s expectation neither for her husband. Not just human rights are damaged by this brutal practice yet in addition principal and lawful privileges of a woman. 

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Female circumcision, or genital cutting, includes all strategies that include fractional or absolute evacuation of the outer female genital for non-clinical reasons which is done to young girls and even at times to baby girls as well. Reports says that around 75   It is mainly practised in the Bohra Community. Sex disparity and prejudicial social standards are factors in why this destructive practice happens. World Health Organisation deciding on the evil consequences of FGM strives to ban it. Female genital mutilation (FGM) health impacts which frequently happen following the strategy and may cause serious draining, disease or blood harming, and can even bring about death. It causes mental injury and the loss of sexual sensation. Sitting or in any event, strolling can wound and even re-open the scar tissues. Blisters, abscesses and incontinence may even take place. Female Genital Mutilation must not thus be continued stating it to be a religious practice under article 25 of Indian Constitution. Female Genital Mutilation. Article 14 of Indian Constitution is harmed because a child irrespective of gender has fundamental right to equality but practicing FGM on a girl’s body is strictly violating Art.14.
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Supreme Court: Stop Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation violates constitutional rights and promotes gender inequality. Courts interpret laws and apply IPC and POCSO Act to deal with it. Supreme Court of India taking up several cases of Female Genital Mutilation focused on main points:

  • FGM is violative of Article 21 of Indian Constitution which is a fundamental right to life and personal liberty enshrined in the Constitution of India. It also involves the violation of right to privacy.
  • The bodily “integrity” of a girl child is lost due to this practice.
  • FGM abuses article 15 of Indian Constitution which is also a fundamental right which prohibits discrimination based on caste, sex, religion or place of birth.
  • The bench pronounced that it is a crime punishable under POCSO Act.
  • Violation of women and child rights in certain cases of “Khatna” or as we know as FGM is depicted by Supreme Court.
  • Touching of female genitals except for medical purpose is perpetuating a crime which could be thus punished by IPC and requires no any penetration.

Human Rights Violation Through Female Genital Mutilation

Human rights are the basic, inalienable birth rights that belong to every human in the world and are considered the most essential for their growth and well- being. They apply to every human regardless of race, colour, sex, place of residence, caste or religion. These basic rights are set on the premise of shared values like dignity, equality, fairness and respect. Human rights apply to all and not only people who are suffering from maltreatment. They are practiced in our day to day activities like our right to express, right to education, right to family, right to water and food and all other basic rights that are important for our existence. 

Through this article, the authors are trying to understand how the age-old concept of female genital mutilation is violating human rights. Female genital mutilation is the process of removing females’ external genital organs. It is also called female circumcision. It is a procedure followed for cultural and non- medical reasons which involves partial or complete removal of female genital parts or damaging them in ways incomprehensible. 

There are no proper sources or origin which can be traced to show the first emergence of the practice but it is somewhat believed to have been in originated in Egypt in around 2000 B.C. It is also assumed to have been originated in Ancient Greece, Rome or Arab countries. Therefore, with these assumptions we realise that we cannot confide it as an act either practiced by the eastern or the western countries. In 1970’s the practice got some gravity and people started accepting it as violation of human rights, until then it was not much of a universal concern. Presently it is believed to be still practiced in Africa, parts of India, Middle East. About 100- 140 million infants, girls and women undergo the operation every year. The practice takes place in remote village areas by untrained mid-wives with instruments like knives, razors or even broken glass. The matter of concern is not where the practice originated or what the statistics state, the existence itself is a persistent and silent enduring human rights violation. 

The rationales behind this gruesome and cruel practice can vary depending on the cultural, ethnic or religious background. The first justification states that communities practicing it can see it as a pre-requisite of marriage or transition into adulthood or for child bearing. In third world countries marriage is not a choice but a requisite for survival and economic security. Female genital mutilation is a pre-condition to marital status. Psychosexual reason is another justification for the practice. Uncircumcised girls are considered to be loose, immoral and supposedly bring shame to the family. They apparently run wild and are considered unable to control their sexual desire. There are religious justifications attached with it too, like it is necessary to keep the girl spiritually clean and pure. It is also believed that in order to curb masturbation, cure hysteria and some psychiatric condition the practice is continued. Lastly, we have aesthetic and hygienic justifications that state the need to remove the female genitals as they are dirty and removing them would protect the woman from illness and promote an aesthetic appeal. 

One of the most important human right is the right to life and the right to live with respect and dignity. Now if we analyse the justifications, we can somewhat point out that the practice does not provide any psychological, physical or biological benefit but can cause health problems like recurrent bladder or urinary tract infections, cysts, infertility, increased risk of child birth, new born deaths and other later surgeries. Thus, the first violation that we can see is the violation of the right to live and survival as the practice though believed to bore benefits actually ends up causing irreparable damage. We can also see the practitioners using sharp objects like knives, broken glass and razor blades. These practitioners who have no idea about human anatomy or medicine keep on continuing without realising that the mutilation can cause problems in the female’s sexual, reproductive and general health. Here it violates the human rights of health and well- being. The mutilation can be seen as an indication of female inferiority and the inequality prevalent in our societies.

One of the justifications by the practitioners is the protection of the female’s chastity. Firstly, who decides that the purity of a female is determined by the removal of her genitals? Secondly how is it considered to be righteous when the woman undergoing the surgery never consented to it? Thirdly who decided that the dignity of a woman is to be placed on her external genitalia? The practice violates the woman’s right against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. If we minutely analyse the justification that the practice is done as a pre-condition to marriage or necessary for transitioning into adulthood, we can rightfully point out that is a gender-based discrimination of the human rights of equality. The practice equally violates the right of women and children. Whatever justifications are put forward, any human would understand that it is a process of satisfying the male’s sexual desire and shows the clear dominance of men in the society. This practice clearly violates the human rights of life, liberty and other freedoms. It violates the right to physical and sexual integrity. Therefore, such practice should be prohibited on the grounds of violation of human and women rights. Human rights of culture don’t justify causing physical, emotional or harm to one another. The practice violates the right to human dignity and the right to protect oneself from cruel treatment. This is a poor example of patriarchal domination. It is not only detrimental to the overall well-being but life threatening. So with this we can rightfully analyse and come to the conclusion that the practice includes various aspects of human rights violations like right to life, right to health and well- being, right to be free from discrimination, rights of the child and right against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to sexual and physical integrity and therefore should be prohibited. Age old traditions have come of the right age for us to let them go. Change is the vehicle helping us travel to the safe and protected future and thus should not only be imbibed but practiced for the safeguarding of humans and their birth rights. 

Case Analysis

In the case of Sunita Tiwari vs Union of India, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by the human rights advocate Sunita Tiwari for a ban of this practice. The practice of Female Genital Mutilation is the removal of the genitals of a female and in India it is widely practiced by the Dawoodi Bohra community, a sect of Shia Muslims. The practice is for regulating female sexuality and controlling sexual desires. She argued that the practice is derogatory to women and violate their human rights of women and children. It is against the right to life, personal liberty, equality and right to privacy. She also brought forth that it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even the World Health Organisation considers it as a grave violation of human rights. It is a serious concern for health issues and can cause physical and mental impairments beyond recovery. Even though we don’t have explicit laws for it, The United Nations general assembly in 2012 passed a resolution for elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. Several countries like USA, Australia have banned it but India does not have specific laws. The arguments against the PIL states that majority of the said community are opposed to it and consider it a religious practice and hence argue for it to be protected under Article 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution. The lawyer representing the community have placed arguments like the practice is done in a safe and non- mutilating way. They have argued that circumcision is practiced and not mutilation and have therefore also challenged the relevance of World Health Organisation reports. The case was referred to the Constitutional bench of the apex court to decide whether female circumcision is an essential religious practice or not. The judgment on this case is yet to be made. Clearly analysing it from the face of the case, it is a gross violation of human rights and therefore for all the right reasons, the apex court can conclude a judicially effective judgment on the premise of basic human rights, dignity and equality.  


Female Genital Mutilation is a serious concerning issue that is happening all over the World and an appearance of sex disparity, and the strengthening of girls is of most extreme significance to eliminate it. In India, a specific community faces this problem which infringes women’s human rights and right to life at large. Though no strict laws are made in India to curb this menace but by international declarations and United Nations views on this matter is still on the way to decrease this menace. Educating girls enough to let them take decision about their health and bodily matter may reduce this issue to certain extent. But the most effective way to reduce female genital mutilation is to spread sex education and bring amendments to social traditions with help of older generations.

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