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News Hour:

The head of India’s National Commission for Women (NCW) on Monday backed a campaign to outlaw “barbaric” female genital mutilation (FGM), the first official support for the banning of the age-old ritual in the country.

FGM, which can cause serious physical and psychological problems, is more commonly linked to African countries which have led international efforts to end the practice.

Little is known about FGM in India where it is carried out in great secrecy by the close-knit Dawoodi Bohra community – a Shi’ite Muslim sect numbering over one million. Campaigners estimate three-quarters of Bohra girls are cut, reports Reuters.

On Monday, which marks International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, Lalitha Kumaramangalam, chair of the commission, was handed three petitions signed by more than 85,000 people calling for a law banning FGM.

“This is a barbaric act and many countries are banning it. Just because something is a social norm does not make it right. These are manifestations of different patriarchal norms,” said Kumaramangalam.

“NCW will support all measures to end FGM, including steps to advocate for a law and to do advocacy among the community.”

The commission advises the government on policy regarding women’s rights and aims to provide a voice for issues ranging from sexual exploitation to employment.


The health and women’s ministries were not immediately available to comment on whether a law was under consideration.

Masooma Ranalvi, founder of Speak Out FGM – a group of women from the Bohra community who started two of the petitions – said the commission’s support was important as it was the first official backing for the criminalizing of FGM in India.

“This is a starting point for us. She (Kumaramangalam) is the first official from the government who has spoken in our favor,” said Ranalvi.

“With the NCW chair on our side we hope we can strengthen our armor for the legal and political battles ahead,” added Ranalvi, who was cut at the age of seven.

Worldwide, up to 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM, which is carried out in a swathe of Africa and pockets of the Middle East and Asia.

Md. Rafiuzzaman Sifat, a CSE graduate turned into journalist, works at News Hour as a staff reporter. He has many years of experience in featured writing in different Bangladeshi newspapers. He is an active blogger, story writer and social network activist. He published a book named 'Se Amar Gopon' inEkushe boi mela Dhaka 2016. Sifat got a BSc. from Ahsanullah University of Science & Technology, Bangladesh. He also works as an Engineer at Bangla Trac Communications Ltd. As an avid traveler and a gourmet food aficionado, he is active in publishing restaurant reviews and cutting-edge articles about culinary culture.
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