Paper Presentation at Conference

  We presented a joint paper on ‘Violence Against Women and Marital Rape Exception in India’ at The Colloquium – A Conference on Civil and Social Rights via Microsoft Teams, Kirit P. Mehta School of Law of SVKM’s NMIMS (Deemed to be University) on 06 March 2021.

Sudan to ban FGM

Late last month, the Sudanese government approved an amendment to criminalise the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Under the proposed amendment, anyone found to be performing FGM could face up to three years in prison and a fine. Sometimes referred to as female circumcision, the controversial practice involves the deliberate removal of female genitalia without medical reason. Traditionally viewed as a way of curbing female sexual desire and preserving virginity, reasons for carrying out FGM include social acceptence, religion, and misconceptions about hygiene. In some cultures, it is considered a rite of passage into adulthood and a prerequisite for marriage. There are no hygienic or health benefits to FGM. The procedure is often conducted without the use of anesthetics, and can cause severe fatal bleeding, painful infections, and problems urinating, as well as long term mental, sexual and reproductive complications later in life. As it is often performed without consent, FGM is considered a violation of the human rights of women, as well as a violation of the rights of children, given that the majority of females are cut before the age of 15. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM worldwide. In Sudan, the practice is widespread. Almost 9 out of 10 Sudanese females have experienced the procedure, meaning that it has one of the highest FGM prevalence rates in the world.  The move to penalise FGM follows years of advocacy to stop the practice. As part of the fifth Sustainable Development Goal, the UN has set a target to eliminate FGM by 2030. While the proposed amendment is celebrated as a victory of womens’ rights in Sudan, a final law that criminalizes FGM is yet to be formally approved, and the country may still face challenges in enforcing the legislation. “People who still believe in the practice might not report cases or act to stop FGM when they know it is happening” says Faiza Mohamed, the Africa regional director of Equality Now to Reuters. Likewise, UNICEF maintains that it needs to work very hard with communities to help enforce the new law.  Moreover, the practice of FGM has survived in other countries that have banned it. Egypt, for example, banned FGM in 2008 and further amended the law in 2016 to include penalising individuals committing the crime with up to 15 years in prison. Yet prosecutions are found to be rare, and the country is found to still have a high rate of FGM. Similarly, there have been few prosecutions in The Gambia since it introduced a law banning the practice in 2015. Lisa Camara, a spokesperson for the Gambian rights group Safe Hands, told DW that; “When The Gambia introduced a law banning FGM in 2015, it enabled activists to go into communities and talk about it, but it did not stop the practice”. Rather, “The law has driven the cut underground”. While legislation alone may not stop the practice which has longstanding cultural roots, penalising FGM

WORLD HAPPINESS DAY: Finland ranked happiest country in the world

Following the publication of the World Happiness Report, Finland has retained its place as the happiest country in the world for the third year in a row. The results are based on an annual survey which ranks world happiness based on measurements such as GDP, social support, health, generosity, personal freedom and levels of corruption. Out of the 153 countries featured in the report, the Nordic countries are all ranked within the top seven spots. Commonly, these countries are characterised by high levels of trust, robust social services, and strong state institutions. This year, the report also ranked cities for the first time. Based on city residents’ self-reports, Finland’s capital of Helsinki ranked as the happiest city, in line with the national results. “Arguably, this bottom-up approach gives a direct voice to the population as opposed to the more top-down approach of deciding ex-ante what ought to matter for the well-being of city residents,” say the authors behind the report. Read the full report here. Photo by: Carlos “Grury” Santos, Unsplash