[Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.]
Mumbai: An overwhelming 46,530 supporters have so far signed an online petition launched by Dawoodi Bohra women calling the United Nations to recognise India as a country where Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is practiced.
With the UN recognition the Bohra women will be able to make official appeals to the Indian government for a ban on the "horrible" and "violent" practice.
"Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is an act of violence, physical, emotional, psychological, please help us in eradicating this practice from India", Bohra women activists said in the online petition started on change.org.
"For years, Bohra women have been too scared to speak out about Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).
"But now under the banner of 'Speak Out On FGM', Bohra women are uniting and speaking out against FGM/C so that our daughters and sisters do not suffer this horrible procedure", the petition said.
"We have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) as children. The trauma of that day still remains with us. FGM/C is a procedure that intentionally alters or causes injury to the genital organs of girls and women for non-medical reasons", the Bohra women said in the petition.
"Like us, thousands of our Bohra sisters in India and overseas have also been subjected to FGM/C. It is called Khatna/Khafz in our community.
"For hundreds of years this practice is being continued under a shroud of secrecy and silence and no one outside of the Bohra community even knew of its existence. Even today young bohra girls aged 7 or even younger sometimes are taken secretly and subject to FGM/C", they added.
"Because of the secrecy, FGM/C is ignored by Indian authorities. The government has no data about FGM and does not recognize it as an urgent issue", they said.
The United Nations has declared FGM/C as a human rights violation and provides support to anti-FGM campaigners around the world. Because of this support many African countries have banned FGM.
The petition will be submitted to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.